Wednesday Workout: Dance Cross-Training with Diggins

FasterSkierMay 17, 2017
U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins has some serious vertical leap. (Photo: Annie Pokorny)

Anyone who follows Jessie Diggins extensively on social media knows the woman has some moves. She’s been the ringleader for multiple U.S. Ski Team choreographed dance videos, and two weeks ago, posted a video of herself doing a little “fancy footwork” House dance in Boston.

Her background in dance began at the Woodbury Dance Center just outside Saint Paul, Minn.

“I think I started the year it opened, actually!” Diggins, 25, wrote in an email about the 20-year-old dance studio. “And I took lessons once a week for 10 years. I loved it, and although I was never amazing at dance (I mean, I was never going to become a ballerina) what I really enjoyed was learning new moves, working on a routine and memorizing it, and then dancing with all the other kids as one unit. It was always so cool to see a routine come together with the music and have everyone moving in sync.”

So how much does she dance now, and is there any crossover to ski training?

“I sometimes use dance as cross training because it’s an awesome way to learn coordination and body awareness, and like skiing it uses your arms, legs and core,” she wrote. “It’s a great warmup for strength since your entire body is warmed up and going by the time you’re done!”

The lesson she took in Boston earlier this month was a drop-in, where “a separate mini-routine is taught each week,” she explained. Diggins added that’s a great format for anyone who wants to jump into a lesson or can’t commit to a weekly class.

“We spent the first 45 mins or so learning House dance style, then the last 45 mins of class the teacher taught us the routine and we learned it together,” she wrote. “I’ve found that every dance class I’ve taken has an awesome atmosphere with people high-fiving each other after learning a complicated step and cheering each other on.”

For those who want to get into dance, she recommended drop-in lessons or even Zumba.

“Or, as I enjoy doing, look up dance tutorials online and learn at your own pace and pick the song and dance you want to learn!” she wrote.

If House dance, which is defined by Wikipedia as a “social dance” that is “often improvised and emphasizes fast and complex foot-oriented steps combined with fluid movements in the torso, as well as floor work,” isn’t your style, an FS reader, former Middlebury skier and coach suggested the idea of listening to waltz-style music before going for your next ski.

“Always in the back of your mind have the feeling of dancing on skis,” Rick Eliot wrote in an email. “Often athletes have benefitted from ballet lessons, learning graceful ballroom dancing and from other rhythmical activities. Mikaela Shiffrin makes slalom racing look like an art form.”

He suggested focusing on rhythmic movements while ski training (whether it be on snow or rollerskis) with something like a Strauss Waltz (Emperor Waltz, Skater’s Waltz, etc.) in skiing tempo “running through your mind as you swing down the trail.”

“Adapting the idea of ‘skiing to music’ into a ski team practice day workout is an intriguing thought,” Eliot added. “It might work but probably would require some trial and error first. Just playing the Skater’s Waltz over an outdoor PA system is probably not going to do it on the first try. My guess is that it would take some searching to find music with just the right tempo for skiing. But ice skaters skate to music so why not skiers? After some on-ski experimenting a coach might want to talk to a local band leader about recording a couple of selections played at skiing tempo.”

Just an idea and another way to shake up training.


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