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 Nov 11, 2010: Volume 11, Number 28


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First Days on Snow


Garrott Kuzzy  November 10, 2010



Across North America, cross country skiers are preparing for their annual pilgrimage to the western Mecca: West Yellowstone, Montana.  As I pack for my eighth consecutive trip to West, I am as excited as ever for my first ski of the season.  Whether your first ski of the year is in West Yellowstone or your own back yard, try focusing on the quality of practice, over the quantity of training, to engrain efficiency at the start of the season.


Last year, I kicked my season off with the best start I have ever had.  Reviewing my training log, it was not the volume or intensity of my training, but rather the quality of my practice that helped me get faster.  I started every workout with a clear, simple goal and practiced that goal with 100 percent focus.


US Ski Team development coach Bryan Fish spends a lot of time studying the physiology of a variety of sports and applying that to skiing.  He recently recommended reading "The Talent Code" by Dan Coyle.  In the book, Coyle discusses case studies of successful development programs in sports and music from around the world.  Coyle highlights the importance of long-term, highly focused practice, estimating that it takes over 10,000 hours of practice to reach an elite level of a given skill.  At 700 hours of training per year, that's only about 14 years to become an elite skier.  Pretty easy, eh?


Here's my challenge to you as you hit snow for the first time this winter.  Try to focus less on "training," like the hours you hit, specific heart rate zones, or beating your friends to the top of the hill. Instead, focus on   practicing.  Practice balancing on one ski.  Practice taking the fastest line around a corner.  Practice getting the perfect kick on your classic skis.  Practice keeping your hips forward on your double-pole.  You know the things you need to work on.  Practice accomplishing one specific goal every workout.  You will find that the hours come easily and the heart rate stays in the correct zone when your practice is focused and efficient.  More importantly, you will feel your technique, coordination, and balance improve to make you a more efficient, faster skier.


Good luck and have fun with your practice as you hit the snow for the first time this winter!


Garrott Kuzzy, CXC Elite Team, 2010 Olympian

A Ski Marathoner Chasing Pheidippides, Part 5

The chase of Pheidippides from Marathonas to Athens started in Ketchum, Idaho, and we should get to Athens in good time for the marathon run. However, the east coast saw the worst storm in 70 years and the well planned travel itinerary resulted in serious delays, a long New York layover, serious rerouting including a visit to Rome, and lost luggage. Luckily, both I and my shoes and shorts made it to Athens prior to race start, although not by much. The story would be more fitting for a trip to a mid-winter European ski marathon or the Masters World Cup in an awkward location than heading to a summer type event in a warm country.

An armada of busses took the thousands of runners to the start at the track stadium in Marathonas. Like so many places in Greece, the Marathon Stadium is on truly historic ground. But, this is the field of the Hellenic victory over the Persians in the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., and the starting point of the messenger Pheidippides heroic run that placed the name and marathon concept in the sporting world and far beyond. Some even go as far as saying the victory was significant in establishing western civilization and preserving freedom and democracy. The bussing appeared to be well organized and go amazingly well. However, we noticed unprecedented crowds in running gear in front of the Hilton indicating a serious snafu in local infrastructure and were happy to have assumed lower profile connections.

Enthusiastic, energized and ecstatic would not start to describe the atmosphere among the reported 16,500 participants in this 25th hundred anniversary event; this was Birkie Fever at its very best, and then some. We stepped off the bus and into a mass of humanity and everything that goes with it. Most of what the athletic community has to offer was seen here, including endless permutations of running outfits with my personal favorites being the people in scotch-plaid bath robes. My only thoughts of cross-country skiing came as I saw someone carrying ski poles; they were real poles with baskets and mud stuck to the bottoms, and it would have been interesting to see this person navigate through the crowds. My wife and I fought our way through the masses; we kissed good luck and see you in Athens before manning ourselves into our assigned starting blocks. My bib read a hefty 10774, which meant I was back in the pack, but start assignments were based on prequalification, and this was where I belonged.

I had studied the course profile and knew we had two long sections of climbing. Not being a road runner, I had little feel for the physical topography before I rode the bus to the start and realized these up- and down hills were definitely beyond what we had anticipated. Last week I heard from my friend Lee Todd who just had been in Athens looking at the course for a future event and reported: "This is not your normal marathon course, there are long grinding uphills, then down and down..." He would know and I trust him. The time in the start block passed quickly as I ended up with a cheerful group from Hong Kong. In the same three square feet were also two guys from Norway. They appeared very organized with kilometer-pace arm bands, GPS watches and lots of stats, including information how the course was about seven minutes slower for the world's best male runners, a three hour runner would have to plan on an additional 15 minutes or more than over a "normal" course, and so on. We finally learned The New York Times described the hilly course as one of the most difficult in the world. OK, the message was clear and strong, but so was I.

Start groups went out a few minutes apart and it was soon time for my Group 6; thousands of runners in sardine-can formation pushing for the line. The effects of multiple travel days and sleepless nights, jet-lag, malnutrition and anxiety were far gone as I walked towards the line. I was charged and ready to run as at the start of the Birkie or even an Olympic relay. What happened after the gun went off will come in the next part; please stay tuned.

Jon Engen -
Master Skier, 3-time Winter Olympian & Enthusiastic Athlete


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SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WorldCup 2010/11


Contest now LIVE - Register Your Team Today

SkiTrax Magazine is pleased once again to present our popular international FIS Fantasy World Cup 2010/11 Contest for players around the world. The Viessmann XC FIS World Cup season kick off begins in Gallivare, Sweden on Nov. 20, with five stops before the Tour de Ski in January leading up to the Oslo 2011 Nordic World Championships at the end of February.

Once again we're presenting a unique 3-in-1 Fantasy Contest package with up to $10,000 overall in prizes including our Fantasy FIS World Cup and Tour de Ski 2010/11 contests followed by our Oslo 2011 Nordic Worlds FIS Fantasy contest for exciting season-long action - the only Nordic contests of their kind worldwide.

Here's how the FIS Fantasy World Cup Contest works
Register your team of four (4) men, and four (4) women including two (2) Outlaw Skiers - one (1) male and one (1) female not in the top 15 of the FIS World Cup overall rankings. All menus for skier selection are available at when you register your team.

Deadlines, Points, Prizes

The deadline to register your FIS Fantasy World Cup team, or to make any changes, is 10pm EST on November 19, the day before the Gallivare WCup. Earn bonus points along the way such as TdS Points or Olso Nordic Worlds Points - all contest rules and information are available when you register your team.

Points will be awarded following each World Cup based on each skier's performance and published regularly at so you can follow your team's progress all season long and see how you compare with other players and the actual FIS standings.

Who will win the 2010/11 Viessmann XC World Cup? Can last year's winners Petter Northug (NOR) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) be beaten? Register your team today and be eligible to win fabulous prizes and stay tuned for more contest news.


7th Annual North Routt Coureur des Bois


Just thought your readers might be interested in a really beautiful and challenging race north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  It is called the North Routt Coureur des Bois and includes single loop 45k and 90k courses.  The distance doesn't tell the whole story.  Virtually all of the skiing is in State Park or National Forest and includes a long section along the National Continental Divide Scenic Trail.  There is over 6,000 ft of climbing on the 90k so bring your quads.  Once a year this course is expertly groomed by our race crew for classic and skate and if you have talked to anyone who has done the event they will tell you it is one of the best organized anywhere and the goodies are outstanding. This year the 7th Annual North Routt Coureur des Bois will be on March 19th, 2011 and you can learn more by going to


November 23 - 27, 2010


The Yellowstone Ski Festival is a few weeks away and last minute plans are in full swing.  There is still time to book a room, sign up for Nordic clinics, and register for the races.  West Yellowstone is preparing to welcome thousands of skiers later this month.  Entertainment is scheduled, wax rooms are readied, and skis are arriving daily.  The timing is perfect.  This weekend looks to be the last of the "nice" weather with snow in the near future.


Enjoy your First Tracks in West Yellowstone.  Whether First Tracks truly means the corduroy and you, or it is the first time on skis this season, or the first time on skis period; you are invited to take them at the Yellowstone Ski Festival.  Think Snow and make plans now toattend the 2010 Yellowstone Ski Festival.  For more information, visit and follow westyellxcski on Twitter or Facebook friend Yellowstone Ski Fest for up to minute news.

8th Annual Steamboat Nordic Camp

Dec 11 - 12th, 2010 - Registration Open

Kick off your ski season with area's top coaches helping you improve your skills. A remarkable collection of coaching talent including former Nordic Olympian Sarah Konrad and top area coaches will assemble for the 2-day instructional camp to take place Friday evening at Ski Haus, and Saturday at The Lake Catamount Touring Center and Sunday at Steamboat Ski Touring Center

The Camp caters to all ability levels: true beginner to advanced and race oriented. Clinic groups are divided by ability and group size is small so that participants can get the most from their coach. Thanks to Ski Haus, 10/11 Nordic ski equipment will be available to demo at the "try before you buy" demo tents: Fischer, Salomon, Rossignol, Atomic, SWIX, Toko, Madshus representatives will be on hand with equipment and information to assist you. Last but not least, hearty lunches, happy hour, great prizes and fun camaraderie add to this "not to be missed" Nordic event. For more information and to register:
Early registration fees are $165 for two days and $100 for one day through Dec. 4th. Register online at or in person at Ski Haus. Sign up early, this camp will fill up.

About SkiPost

Cross-Country skiing's community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing see or email us at

Enjoy Winter,
Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost

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