RAMSAU, Austria – “I’ve already gotten proof that it works, some real ‘ah-ha’ experiences that tell me there good things are happening,” said the 23-year-old Swedish cross-country star.
Ask her competitors who is the best skate skier on the circuit, and many of them will tell you it’s Charlotte Kalla. Few can beat her in the steep uphill sections when she gets low and cranks out her best V2 technique.
The Norwegian queen of cross-country skiing, Marit Bjoergen, has studied Kalla’s technique, and is trying to pick up details from the Swede that could give her an edge, especially at higher speeds.
But what Kalla already does as one of the best in the world, she can still improve upon. Kalla has polished her technique for the upcoming season.
“Do you really expect me to reveal all my secrets?” Kalla said with a laugh when Sportbladet asked her about her new technique during a recent training camp in Ramsau, Austria.
“Dare to go low”
Kalla got off the couch to try to explain the difference between the new and the old technique to the reporter. She stands with her feet hip-width apart and bends her knees.
“It’s all about daring to go low to increase the ankle/knee flexion. When I increase that ankle flexion, I get so much more stable, improve balance and I can ride the ski all the way. In comparison, when I am standing taller, I have less stability,” Kalla said and continued:
“Then, I have tinkered a little with how to find the right pressure depending on where on my foot I keep my weight. I’ve tried a few different things, and I decided that keeping the weight on the front of the foot is the most efficient.”
Keeping her weight on the forward part of the foot generates the most power in the kick, Kalla said. “It also improves my balance. I can ride the ski better without getting unstable,” added the 23-year-old, who earned an Olympic gold medal in the 10 k skate last winter.
How much does it matter?
“I get more out of every stride. It has worked very well on roller skis. And it has given me some real exciting experiences, like ‘oh s***, something is happening here!’ Then, I’ve tried it in time trials and interval workouts with other skiers. I try to ski bigger and glide a little more each stride,” said Kalla.
The next week, the Swedish national team is doing a training camp in Kiruna (northern Sweden). That will allow Kalla to polish her new technique on snow at higher speeds than what she’s been able to do at the glacier in Ramsau.
Natural at skating
Kalla can barely contain her excitement to try her new skills on the World Cup circuit, which gets underway in Gällivare later this month.
That she was a natural at skating is something she has known since she was a little girl.
“It’s actually a little strange that I knew that, even early on. My whole junior career, skating just felt more natural than anything else. I never had a coach who taught us how to skate in my home club, so we rarely did that at practice. It was just a harmonic feel from the start,” Kalla said.
From Aftonbladet.se/Sportbladet, October 31, 2010. Translation by Inge Scheve