Zach why leave the sun of San Diego and the U.S.O.C. behind for the U.S. Ski Team?
Every decision has its reasons. The work side of things was the main reason. I knew Andy Walsh, Per Lundstrom and Sue Robson (USST Sport Science Staff), and knew they were very innovative in how they approached sport – how sport science was integrated within the teams. With the USOC it was more consulting with various NGB’s (national governing bodies). I feel there is less of a barrier between sport science and coaching, and sport science and athletes, when employed by, and specifically working for, one Olympic sport. I felt this would be a great opportunity to work more hands on with coaches and their athletes. USST Sport Science is really innovative in trying to look for the new, state of the art way to train its athletes.
An explosive squat. Lifts employing multi-joints are a feature of the USST strength program. (Koos photo).
Is there anything you have drawn on specifically from these other sports?
No. I like to take each sport for what it is. It’s thinking about how other sports train, and why they’ve trained in such-and-such a way. The technique of each sport is totally different. But the physiological training involved is very similar in many areas.
With strength training you have to ask, â€˜What do you want to get done?’ Do you want to develop strength? Do you want to put on mass? Build power? These things are pretty cut and dry when you start going from sport to sport. The cardio program is catered pretty specifically to each sport. Building strength and power is different in that it’s not as sport specific. It just can’t be that specific. Technique and specificity will always be lost when you walk into the weight room.
When it comes to the weight room with nordic combined athletes, what are you going after?
The nordic combined guys are challenged by the fact they cannot gain much mass. They have to be pretty careful of that. However, they also need a great deal of power. So we try to maximize every bit of muscle mass that they have. Although they work on strength, they work on max strength. They also have a huge focus on explosive movements- plyometrics are a huge part of their program to help them be faster within their movements, if not necessarily stronger.
With the cross-country team what are you key training themes?
What I strive for is not so much what we’re doing, but rather how we’re doing it. At this point, I just want to see consistency. Developing a program that doesn’t negatively affect cardio sport training, where they are able to over a long period of time (i.e. several years) gain strength not only for performance, but also for injury prevention. Consistency plays a huge part of that. Being consistent through the year, building up strength and power in the preparation season, then maintaining this throughout the competitive season, so the athlete does not lose anything by the later World Cup events, the World Championships, Olympics. I want our skiers just as strong and just as powerful in February as they were in October.
Torin Koos is a member of the National A Team for the United States. A World Cup, World Championship and Olympic competitor, Koos brings this experience to the FasterSkier sportscasting arena for the 2006/2007 season.
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