Race/PerformanceCross Country Skier Magazine

Cross Country Skier is the Journal of Nordic Skiing. Published during the height of the ski season with November/December and January/February issues, each includes feature articles, destinations, helpful information and perspectives from a variety of columnists, training and technique tips, ski club, personality, and event features; and high performance and racing for the more competitive members of our audience.

Online Journal

Pilates and The Core Centered Skier

Lauri Ann Stricker

What does it take to be a powerful, smooth, energy-efficient skier? A skier with rhythm and flow, gliding seamlessly from one movement to the next?

Just about any skier can become an energy-efficient gliding machine. To be smooth and yet powerful, to feel that your skis are an extension of your body, requires core-centered movement. Core-centered skiing means tapping into what Joseph Pilates referred to as the “powerhouse.” The powerhouse refers to the muscles of the torso: hips, abdominals, chest, back and shoulders. Pilates targets these muscles and can help you become a stronger, smoother and more powerful skier.

Skiing requires proper alignment, lower-body fitness, core strength and a strong mind-body connection. Muscle imbalances in the legs, such as tight or weak hamstrings, coupled with overly powerful quadriceps, can leave the ankles, knees, hips and back vulnerable to injury.

As a cross country skier, you’ll appreciate the additional core strength gained from Pilates. Tapping into a strong core, you’ll improve your balance, agility and be more in control. By tightening your core, you’ll reduce impact on your back, hips and knees. As you improve your flexibility and core strength, your alignment will improve and so will your technique.

If your hips and core muscles are not strong, or if your muscles are inflexible, you will be challenged every step of the way. Moving from your center, balancing your muscles and improving your flexibility go a long way to improving your technique, your endurance and will help you avoid injury. Over the past 60 years, the Pilates method of body conditioning has trained athletes how to effectively strengthen and move from their core.

Pilates helps skiers to accomplish three things: prevent spo ... ... read entire story here...

Nordic Nation

Compiled and Edited by Allison Slavick

Tahoe Donner Association commemorated the official commencement of construction for a new Cross Country Ski Center on Friday, June 13, with a groundbreaking ceremony. Staff and supporters gathered to celebrate the new Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center designed to improve operational and energy efficiencies, while implementing necessary protections to natural resources.

Representatives from Tahoe Donner including Robb Etnyre, general manager, Tom Johns, president of the board, and Forrest Huisman, director of capital projects, attended the groundbreaking along with project supporters. Truckee dignitaries including Truckee Mayor Patrick Flora were present as well.

“At long last, with years of research, collaboration and planning we are excited to be able to move forward with construction of our new Cross Country Ski Center,” said Johns. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of those who attended the planning commission hearings, wrote letters of support and helped make this project become a reality.”

The new Tahoe Cross Country Ski Center is designed to meet the growing needs of the community and will include energy efficient and environmentally conscious design, an enhanced rental facility and new public locker room, protection of adjacent wetlands, improved food service, and an architectural vision that contributes to the mountain community.

“Today is a celebration of the valuable collaboration, community relationships, and project coordination that has taken place during the last three years of planning . The success of this project is a result of everyone’s continued vision and support,” said Huisman.  “Collectively, we are making history by dreaming big, developing our shared vision, and following through for the collective benefit of the Truckee ... ... read entire story here...

American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation Appoints New Director of Race Operations

Allan Serrano Family (1200x900)

The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) has appointed Allan Serrano as its new Director of Race Operations. Serrano will replace Shellie Milford—who served in various capacities for 13 years and then Director of Race Operations for the past 15 years—announced her retirement earlier this year. Serrano and his family will be relocating from New Paltz, NY. He assumes the ABSF position on September 15, 2014, and will work with Milford until her departure in March of 2015.

“Allan comes to the Birkie with a wealth of knowledge of Nordic ski racing. As we continue the tradition of excellence that the Birkie is known for, Allan’s skills will be put to good use immediately. We look forward to welcoming Allan and his family to our community,” said Sue Scheer, Board President, American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation.

Serrano brings to the American Birkebeiner his experience in leadership and management needed to be a successful Race Director. “I have a sense of the pride and ownership embodied in the greater community surrounding the Birkie. The brand is successful due to the diligent work of staff and volunteers over the years. I see the critical mission of this position is working with the Chiefs and volunteers to uphold the tradition and values, as well as developing changes to keep the experience current for all of the constituent groups,” Serrano said.

Previously, Serrano has served as an International Ski Federation (FIS) Technical Delegate which has created opportunities for him to work with race organizers and regional event staff. Serrano’s technical, communication, and organizational skil ... ... read entire story here...

Nordic Walking Today

By Lou Dzierzak

It’s said that More than 10 million Northern Europeans regularly participate in Nordic walking. But while the popularity of fitness walking with modified ski poles may be growing across the Atlantic, Nordic walking’s acceptance in the United States has been much slower.

Launched in the United States in the early ‘90s, Nordic walking ambassadors initially enjoyed media attention from the Today Show and other media outlets. But that blast of publicity had mixed results. Participants in Nordic walking demonstration videos often depicted participants as senior women. Certainly an important and valid audience segment for increased fitness activities, but the images alienated a broader, younger athlete who would also benefit from Nordic walking’s cardiovascular workout.

More than a decade later, outspoken and passionate evangelists continue to battle misperceptions about Nordic walking. Slowly and surely, their efforts are making a difference.

Greg Wozer, president of , Leki US  Inc., reports, “People see Nordic walking as something that’s perfect for my mom. Or that would be great for my dad. They say, ‘ I have to get them up and moving.’  At some point along the way, whether people are doing it with their mom or dad or taking the poles out and trying it under the darkness of night or early morning, athletes are changing their perceptions.”

Known one of the most recognized ski marathons in the world, the American Birkebeiner, is doing its part to validate Nordic Walking.  Held in September, the Birkie Trail Run and Trek includes a 13.1 km Nordic Walking division. More than 125 people participated in the 2011 event.

“I was skeptical when I first heard about Nordic walking. I used to m ... ... read entire story here...

Kettlebells for the Cross Country Skier

By Darlene Prois

Lance Armstrong uses kettlebells. So does Gray Cook, a nationally recognized physical therapist and functional movement expert. He, in turn, encourages his clients -- athletes from the NFL, NBA, NHL and WNBA -- to incorporate kettlebell workouts into their training.

Kettlebells, which look like cannonballs with handles, can help skiers become better athletes, too.

Within the past five years, kettlebell training has become a valued fitness tool for athletes in a wide variety of disciplines. They’re using the distinctively shaped weights to improve strength, mobility and balance. Those simple results are hugely significant: a functionally fit athlete with a strong, balanced core is far less prone to injury.

That’s important for anyone, but particularly for an aging athlete like the typical cross country skier. Nearly 35 percent of the skiers competing in the American Birkebeiner, for example, are between the ages of 45 and 55. For them, a properly designed kettlebell program can counteract the negative effects of years of repetitive training. That, in turn, can translate into a longer skiing career.

Kettlebells come in a wide variety of weights, from as little as two pounds to the 106-pound “Beast.” The lighter weights are typically used for corrective and rehabilitative exercises of the arms and shoulders; the heaviest are used for strength.

The core of any kettlebell workout is the swing. A kettlebell swing uses explosive movements to develop muscular power. The effect is similar to that ... ... read entire story here...

Dryland Drills

Training exercises and drills will help improve endurance, strength and technique. Whether you are a strictly recreational skier, or on the road for a race most weekends, better technique and endurance will make things a lot more fun.

The quest for better fitness and better technique never ends. For the dedicated – some might say the hard core – summer is the time to build the endurance base, strengthen the core, and work on basic technique.

Experts will tell you that successful skiers are formed in the off-season, so here are some drills to keep you focused through the low-snow months. Most of these drills require just the basics – you and your shoes. And no poles, unless specified.

While many of these drills are commonly used by coaches across the country, this compilation is derived from a comprehensive collection of drills distributed at local clinics by coaches Rob Bradlee and Jim Stock.

Classic Technique Dryland Drills

Basic Athletic Position (BAP)

Many of these drills start with the basic athletic position (BAP), a relaxed athletic stance. Your pelvis is in a neutral position (as in the start of a crunch), ankles and knees are bent, and your shoulders are relaxed and rounded.


Arm Swing Drill

Swing your arms easily, with your hands and fingers loose and relaxed. As you swing to the front, your hands should come as high as your face. Make sure to relax the shoulders and let your arm hang loose in the socket. Do not rotate your shoulders around the spine. Try swinging your arms faster and faster, but stay relaxed.


Arm and Leg Swing Drill

This drill is great for balance. Assume the BAP stance. Swing one leg about 15 times, then switch to ... ... read entire story here...

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