According to skate technique expert Torgeir Bjørn, Petter Northug is best during the last ten minutes of a race. Bjørn, who is the technique coach with the Norwegian national biathlon team, explains that this is the part of the race where technique matters the most.
Petter Northug agrees with Bjørn, and says that basic core strength is a determining factor in being able to finish ski races on top.
“Up until 2008 I wasn’t particularly diligent with that kind of training, and my upper body sort of collapsed. I was hanging too far forward. While I was able to maintain the speed, it cost me a lot more,” Northug explained.
By focusing heavily on building core strength, Northug argues that you can maintain solid technique all the way through long races, even at times when you’re not peaking.
Important at average fitness
“It’s important to have a strong core, inner abs, back and lower abs. This kind of strength helps maintain posture even when you are fatigued, which is particularly important in races that you’re not peaking for. When you’re peaking, nothing is a problem, but nobody is peaking throughout the season,” Northug said.
“Core strength training is crucial to build stability and maintain solid technique toward the end of almost all race distances. This is in addition to all the strength you build over the hours of skiing and roller skiing,” he said.
– Torgeir Bjørn says it looks like you don’t care about the opening phases of a race?
“It might look like I don’t care about the start, but I think that might be because there’s usually more energy flowing toward the end of a race. I feel like I ski technically fairly well throughout the race. However, I see that it might look like it flows better toward the end. But I don’t change my technique focus during races.”
– Your surges have earned you several Olympic and World Championship gold medals. How much do you practice these surges?
– Ski like H”#!¤ even when you got lactic acid coming out your ears.
“I spend a lot of time practicing accelleration when your body is tired, while at the same time maintaining good technique. I do a lot of little surges during my distance workouts. You have to practice how to ski like h”#!”, with proper technique, even when you got lactic acid coming out your ears,” Northug said.
The star skier also says you need to be aware of technique now, in the transition period from dryland/ roller skiing to on snow training.
“I use video a lot to make sure I don’t carry little roller ski-specific issues onto the snow,” Northug said.
From Langrenn.com, October 28, 2010 By Ola Jordheim Halvorsen, translation by Inge Scheve
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.