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April 7, 2011: Volume 11, Number 49


Upper Body Strength Options            


I have an old shoulder injury that is aggravated by doing push-ups and I am looking for some other arm workouts that will help keep my arms strong for skate skiing throughout the summer?


Lucky for you there are literally TONS of great arm exercises that skiers can do to keep their upper bodies in shape!  Perhaps the most important arm muscle for a skier is the triceps.  DIPS are the exercise that best targets this ski specific muscle.  If you have a pre-existing injury (which it sounds like you do) or are just beginning strength work, I recommend weight-assisted dips.  Dips can be a body weight exercise (where you must lift your entire body weight) or you can offset some of your weight by keeping your feet on the ground.  No special equipment is needed.... you can even do a short set of dips at your desk using your office chair!  Simply scoot off your chair, keep your feet on the ground and lower your body with your arms until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle.  Keep your legs straight if you are feeling strong or bend your legs (knees at a 90 degree angle) if it feels tough.  With any strength plan, keep it easy to begin with and build strength from there.  Start with three sets of 10 every other day for one week. The following week try three sets of 15 and so on. 


My other favorite upper body strength workouts include double poling on roller skis, using a ski-specific roller board, bungees, and arms-only swimming.


Good luck and have fun!




Holly Brooks

Team APU

Salomon Complete

2010 Olympian, 2011 USSA SuperTour & National Champion


Back Pain Continued


In response to the physical therapist's remarks about evaluation of skiers with back pain, my perspective as an orthopaedic surgeon is predictably a little different.  While a diagnostic evaluation by a physical therapist is certainly likely to yield diagnoses of muscle imbalance, core weakness, and probably tight hip flexors (who among us recreational skiers doesn't have these going on?), many skiers may have other musculoskeletal problems spinal conditions that a spine specialist might diagnose more promptly. If a skier's back pain is not responding to generally available core strengthening, stretching, and technique coaching, I would suggest that the next "crucial" step might be a physician looking for more structural causes.

Race Format 



We have what we think is the greatest sprint format at least for BKL kids, who so often are divided by gender and age groupings. We do a time trial on the course for "seeding" and then group racers in groups of 8 from fastest to slowest overall. Within each group of 8, we create 2 heats. One heat has seeds 1, 4, 5, and 8 and the other heat has 2, 3, 6, 7. The top 2 from each heat go to the A final, the bottom 2 to the B final. So within each group of 8, there are 2 winners (1 of every 4 entrants) and the groups of 8 are mixed age and gender but every group and heat is close and competitive. The usual stars end up in a competitive group (and can't all win for a change) and the usual "losers" end up competing (and winning) within their group.


We also then take our seeding to form team relays, just by going through the order 1, 2, 3, 4 and back 5, 6, 7, 8.....You end up with 4 teams, mixed by age, gender, club, etc. and they are pretty equal in speed which leads to a fun finish. All great spirited racing for kids, fans, and I think it would work for adult racers too.


Rick Gordon

Putney Ski Club BKL


Dogs Continued


The answer to the dog hair question was simply a reflection of the attitude of the entire US ski community toward dogs on ski trails. Recently, in late March, the World Championship skijor and sled dog races were held on the world-class ski trails in Holmenkollen, where the Nordic Ski World Championships were held a few weeks earlier. 


I highly doubt the dog hair on these trails is going to ruin the Norwegian's domination of Nordic sports, including skijoring and sprint dogsledding.  Most Norwegian ski trails are dog friendly and many Norwegians ski with their dogs. Somehow, they have survived the dog hair onslaught. 


There are plenty of excuses Nordic skiers use to justify banning dogs from ski trails. The truth is, a well trained dog has little to no impact on a hard packed groomed trail.  If the trail is freshly groomed or soft, a skier will dig up the trail as much as a dog.  I have skied  many times with my dogs at a dog friendly ski area in New Hampshire, that includes twisting down hills, and sharp corners (another excuse the anti-dog crowd uses is that people will break a leg  hitting a dog on a downhill) and gets plenty of public use, many of them dog owners.  There have been no conflicts, or injuries, and certainly no complaints about dog hair. 


I've skied at the highest US levels of Nordic skiing, and this elitist attitude by Nordic skiers toward other users, including dog owners, does nothing for the sport. In areas like Anchorage, Alaska where many public trails are closed to other users in the winter, there is a lot of animosity among the many members the non-elitist ski community toward Nordic skiers.  I'm not sure whether none of you own dogs or whether you just don't consider your dogs a friend, companion and protector like many dog owners, particularly women who often are out on the trails alone. One of the primary reason I have my dogs is to be able to ski/run/hike with them.  It's amazing the excuses people come up with for keeping dogs off trails. What's next?


Many more people are starting to own athletic dogs and treat dogs like family.  It's time that the Nordic ski community re-thought their anti-dog policy and started welcoming these users into the fold.  Are we so set in our ways we can't learn from the Norwegian model? 







Measure Results Now for a Faster Season next Year 


By: Judy Geer-Concept2


As the winter racing season draws to a close, skiers around the world are asking themselves and their coaches the following question: How can I train better now so I'm faster next winter?


While there is no single training method or modality that will make the difference for everyone, there are tools that everyone can use to guide their workouts and make sure that their training is working. Now is a good time to take stock of your available tools and be sure you are using them to your greatest advantage.


Tools seem to fall into two general categories: those that help you gauge and control the intensity of your training and those that measure the effectiveness of your training. In the first category would be heart rate monitoring, lactate testing and physiological (VO2) testing, in increasing order of cost and complexity. The mainstay of the second category is good old-fashioned time trials. 


Time trials can be a very effective way to measure progress and identify training gaps. The key is to establish specific tests that relate as closely as possible to the work and motion of skiing and that can be repeated periodically under stable conditions. For example, a 3k run on a track is quite repeatable as long as you don't run into uncooperative weather conditions. It's not the most direct measure of skiing ability, but does give a good measure of general fitness. Rollerski time trials do a better job of simulating the technique and specific demands of skiing, yet the accuracy may be significantly affected by the rollerskis themselves. It's important to use the same rollerskis-even the same wheels-if you want repeatable results that can be compared from person to person and test to test. Timed strength tests can measure a skier's improvement in exercises related to skiing, and uphill runs and uphill double poling on rollerskis are some other time trials commonly used.


One of the newer time trial options is the Concept2 SkiErg, which has been gradually finding its way into more and more ski training locations around the world since its introduction in June 2009. It offers a close simulation of the poling motion of skiing, complete with the involvement of the core and the legs. A recent analysis of the biomechanical similarity can be found at The SkiErg is also one of very few ski training tools to offer accurate measurement of performance. The standard onboard Performance Monitor gives instant feedback on each pull as well as cumulative time, distance and pace data. It's self-calibrating to take local variables such as elevation into account, so tests results can always be compared from one day to another and from one SkiErg to another.



Whatever the tools you use to guide your training and measure your progress, the sooner you build them into your program the better. As you develop your training plans for the upcoming dryland season, be sure to include a schedule of periodic tests and time trials.


Judy Geer  Concept2 


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