Snowbasin Nordic Challenge 2010:
Rebuilding a Guatemalan Hospital

More than 2,000 miles separate doctors from Ogden, Utah and Guatemala in Central America. .With support from Snowbasin Sun Valley Resort and The Utah Nordic Alliance, a group of doctors are launching the Snowbasin Nordic Challenge on February 15, 2010.

Nine-Day Sun Valley Fest:
All Things Nordic

The new Sun Valley Nordic Festival, January 30 – February 7, 2010, will feature nine days of activities, races, clinics and fun events, along with a $49 nine-day valley-wide Nordic ski trail pass and discounts on demos/rentals, lodging and dining.

The idea was to create a weeklong event that capitalized on the Boulder Mountain Tour ski race and build in new activities that might encourage racers to come a few days earlier, but to also have activities that non-race skiers and families could enjoy. Read more.

Freeman Overcomes Diabetes:
Aims for Gold

Kris Freeman, a member of the United States cross country ski team, has a story unmatched in Olympic competition history. Freeman, 28, is the first athlete with Type 1 diabetes to compete in an Olympic endurance event.

Diagnosed in 2000, doctors initially told Freeman he would have to give up his dream to win an Olympic medal in cross country skiing. Freeman recalls, “I was very concerned that I was going to have to stop racing. Not trying to race never occurred to me. I was going to try and if I failed, I failed, but I was certainly going to go as hard as I could to continue on the career path I was on.” Read more.

Ski Legend Nikolai Anikin Remembered

Nikolai Anikin, a three-time Olympic medalist for the Soviet Union and then a coach in the U.S. for 20 years, died of cancer November 14, 2009, in Duluth, Minnesota. One of his prize pupils was John Bauer, who won all four races at the U.S. Nationals in 1996 and skied in the 2002 Olympics. Bauer wrote an article for Cross Country Skier two years ago, which you can read here.

Snowshoe Update

By Lou Dzierzak

Once thought of as quaint decorations hanging crisscrossed over a winter cabin’s stone fireplace, today’s snowshoes reflect state-of-the-art designs, construction methods and materials.

According to the Outdoor Foundation’s “Outdoor Recreation Participation 2009 Topline Report,” 2.9 million people went snowshoeing in 2008. That represents a 21.8 percent increase from 2007. Read the story here.

Montana Development Aims at Sustainability

A new development near Red Lodge, in south-central Montana, will include a limited number of widely spaced homes, access to ski trails and will showcase sustainable living. Aspen Ridge Ranch offers just 10 lots on 250 acres, with common ownership of the rest of the property. Read the rest of the story here.

The New Whistler Olympic Park

Click on the photo for a larger version.

What has almost 500 inches of snow annually, 35 kilometers of recreational trails and brand-new everything? If you answered the new Olympic Nordic venue in Whistler, BC, you win. Recreational trails? "It's much more about the legacy after the Games," says the venue's designer, John Aalberg. Read all about it in our new digital magazine. Also, see many more photos in our online photo gallery.

An Explanation of Balance

From the elite racer to the beginning five year-old, and everyone in between, balance can make the difference between skiing that is fun and skiing that is a chore. Along with core strength, technique training and mental visualization, improving balance is one of the essential skills for a cross country skier. Read more and see the illustrations.



Tamarack Lodge:
Where History and Nature Collide

Tamarack Lodge, nestled in the Inyo National Forest of the Mammoth Lakes area of California’s Eastern Sierras, offers up a charming combination of history and natural beauty resulting in a delightful setting for cross country skiing. Read on . . .


New Equipment for 2009-2010

Every season, equipment manufacturers roll out their latest and greatest new gear.Cross Country Skier annually brings you a preview of the newest line-up of skis, boots, poles, waxes and accessories. We have the scoop on new developments in design and technology – in bases, flexes, cores, foot lasts, binding interfaces, materials and cosmetics. So if you are a techo-weenie gear geek, this is the article for you.

Dryland Drills

No snow where you are? Check out these dryland drills to keep you in shape (both physicaly and mentally) for the upcoming season. (Note -- the link will take you to our digital magazine.)



Pre-Season Strength Workout

October 10, 2009 - It's not too late to get started on strength training for the 2009 season - but you better start soon. Take a look at one training plan, and many suggested exercises, to help you have your best season yet.

Subscribe to Cross Country Skier

Don't miss a single issue of Cross Country Skier this season. Four great issues for one low price. Read about racing, destinations, training, and a variety of columns for both the recreational and competitive skier.

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Kick-Double Pole is Your Friend

By Andrew Johnson, 2010 Noquemanon Champion
(Image by Zach Simons, Steinbock Racing)

andrew johnsonThe last weekend of January 2010, I was fortunate enough to ski in the Noquemanon Ski Marathon in Marquette, Michigan. If you have not yet had the opportunity to ski this race, and you have a propensity for long ski races, you should put this event on your calendar for next season. The terrain, excellent snow, technical and demanding trails, and the one-of-a-kind U.P. scenery all combine to create a memorable weekend.

This year's Noque featured some transformed, cold and very abrasive snow. The tracks were perfect and the skiing was fast, but once we started racing it was no secret that maintaining kick throughout the entire race was going to be nearly impossible. Even with Toko Base Green Klister binder, the talk in the front pack of the race was all about how long our kick would last.

Fortunately, most of the climbing on the Noque course happens in the first 25 kilometers of the race and the second half of the course is much flatter, with significant elevation loss. It's quite possible to double pole almost all of the second half of the race (if you have to!), making good classic kick a little less important.

Between the sections of climbing during the first half of the race, there is quite a bit of really nice rolling and gradual terrain. I noticed in our lead pack of 15-or-so skiers that the technique of choice was to double pole as much terrain as possible. I understand this, as I feel that it's relatively easy to get into a double-pole "groove" and find a good rhythm. Double poling as long as possible, switching to a stride for the steep sections, and going straight back to double pole is, to most people, the best way to get to the finish line as fast as possible.

However, once our lead pack settled into a relaxed and consistent pace, I noticed that I could kick-double pole many of the flatter sections much easier than I could double pole. Knowing that the second half of the race was going to provide plenty of opportunity for double poling, I figured it was best in the early going to kick-double pole as much as possible and save my double pole energies for later -- particularly since most of the other racers seemed to be double poling exclusively.

Using a relaxed, long, and fluid technique, the kick-double pole allowed me to ski at a lower intensity, save my arms and core for later in the race, and let my legs to do some light work and clear some lactate.

For longer races and marathons where there is likely to be more gradual terrain than most 10 or 15K races, the kick-double pole is an often under-utilized technique. It is difficult to master the kick double pole to the point where it can be an efficient and, more importantly, relaxed technique. I've known many very good skiers who have never developed a really solid kick-double pole in their careers. But it's worth working on and adding to your arsenal of effective techniques.

I have spent a lot of time in the past, during the summer and fall, doing upper-body specific strength workouts on rollerskis. A significant component of these workouts is doing 30 second kick-double pole repeats on both gradual and steeper hills. I concentrate on a long glide, a high position at the start of the downward compression, and fast, powerful motions in both the upper-body compression and kick initiation.

Kick-double pole is your friend. Learn it, and utilize it, to maximize your racing potential! Oh, and put the Noque on your race calendar for next season - you won't regret it!