Five technique pointers
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Five technique pointers
Now that most of the ski country has snow and skiing, I thought it would be timely to write about technique ideas. After all, the first snow means transition time from rollerskiing to snow, and the inherent bad habits can be carried over–or corrected–from summer training. It’s easy to create bad habits early on snow when you get fatigued– because the snow is slow, and the tendency is to ski a lot, getting you tired.
The first pointer is to correctly tighten pole straps. This is not a silly idea, because it is rather helpful in setting up proper wrist position and allowing pendulum-like arm swing. So the pole straps should be tightened enough so that the poles stay up in the air when you extend the arm (like at the end of the arm swing.) So many times the mistake is for skiers to grab at the pole leading to “wrist-flicking.”
Second, the wrists in poling need to be kept at a slightly flexed position . So when you are standing with your arms at your sides wrist flexion means to bring your fingers “in” or toward your body. Skiing with flexed wrists, as weird-sounding as it seems inconsequential, is key to proper body position. It helps to keep our arms close in to the body and preserve the relaxed arm swing. Skiers with extended wrists are often the ones trying to grab their pole handles (which are too loose), and this mistake sets them up for a bent arm swing.
Third, is to ski with a pendulum arm swing. (This is the opposite of the bent arm swing.) The arm swing is the return motion of the poling phase, the recovery phase, and it is important for setting up good rhythm of the stride. Proper arm swing is what helps us propel down the track (arm momentum helps us run up hills easier), as well as create relaxation in the ski stride cycle. So the arm swings at the shoulder, like a pendulum.
Four, is to adopt a upper body position with a rounded lower back. This position sinks the hips almost like squatting–but it’s really a pelvic tilt forward. This position allows the body to use the strong gluteal/hamstring muscle combination, rather than the quadriceps muscles. In order to NOT be squatting and to use a high-hips position we have to have flexed ankles, where we lean our entire body forward (with the soles of our feet on the ground) only through a bend in the ankles.
Five, practice small ski movements through the use of specific isolation drills on easy terrain; Ie. ski classic and skate without poles and focus on the leg movements. Try to ski with hard pushes and gain lots of relaxed glide time. Or you can double- or single-pole on easy terrain, and again practice the relaxed arm swing.
I hope these pointers can help you better understand proper technique and gain the most from early season skiing.