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August 4, 2011: Volume 12, Number 18



Running the Inca Trail with Two Olympics


By: Ben Jonjak


This is an article BenJonjak  (cyclova store owner) did recently for livinginperu.com about his Inca Trail adventure with Roberto Carcelen  (Peru's first winter Olympian), and Martin Koukal (World Champion etc!!!) from the Czech Republic.   The entire post can be read here


Roberto Carcelen, called me up recently with the question I dread to hear from professional athletes.

"Hey, what's your fitness level?"


For the record, my fitness level is pretty decent. Last February I competed in America's largest cross-country ski race, the 50 kilometer American Birkebeiner, and finished in a respectable, if not blazing, time of 3:44. However, compared to Olympic athletes, I'm essentially just another couch potato.


"Err," I answered, "I've been doing an hour run about three or four times a week."

"Great!" replied Roberto. "How would you like to hike the Inca trail?"


The question gave me pause. I've lived in Lima, Peru for close to ten years and I've done just about every tourist activity except the famous Inca trail. However, the prospect of hiking all day long and camping at altitude is not the type of undertaking you should agree to without consideration. From all accounts, the Inca trail is pretty difficult, so I wanted to make sure it'd be worth the trouble.


"What I'm really interested in doing is seeing Choquequirao," I said.


"Perfect!" Roberto exclaimed. "That's exactly where we're going, Inca runners is going to connect the lost cities of Choquequirao and Machu Picchu. We're using this as a training camp for the cross-country world championships."


"We?" I asked. Now more than ever I felt I was getting in over my head with this enterprise, but at the same time it seemed like too cool an opportunity to pass up.


"You, me and Martin Koukal, the 2003 World Champion in the 50 Km skate, and bronze medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics."I sighed, once again it seemed like fate was playing sinister games with me by presenting me with offers I couldn't refuse.

"I'm in," I said. "Great!" Roberto replied, and just like that the machinery was put in motion.


inca trail


We arrived in Cusco in the midst of the rainiest July anyone could remember. At first Roberto was a little concerned that parts of the Inca trail might be blocked by snow or that the excessive rain might have made a river crossing on day 5 impassible, but Martin wasn't the slightest bit concerned. I soon found out that along with being a World Champion Cross-country skier, Martin is also an experienced mountaineer having scaled the 8,201 meter Cho Oyu in the Himalayas. If it hadn't been clear before it was clear then that I was traveling with some pretty heavy hitters.


The rain persisted in our first few days at Cuzco which we spent acclimating by visiting local ruins such as Sacsayhuman, Ollantaytambo, and Pisaq. Soon enough, however, we piled into the car and made our way to Cachora, delighting in the news announcements that continually mentioned the "Olympians running the Inca trail."

Roberto had done this trip many times before with Inca Runners, and after presenting us with our three porters and their donkeys, we were on our way.


The first day was a pretty grueling 17 mile hike that essentially took us to the gates of Choquequirao. Roberto confided that he normally split the first 17 miles into two days of hiking, but he figured Martin and I could deal with doing the whole thing in one go. I didn't have any doubts about Martin, but I felt my own chance at survival was disturbingly low. As it turned out, the first 11 miles of the hike wasn't all that challenging, but the last 6 were off the charts. I stumbled into camp in something like nine and a half hours only to find Roberto and Martin relaxing by the tents. They'd traversed the distance in about half the time it had taken me, an achievement that would repeat itself every day throughout our trek.


Visiting Choquequirao was an absolute joy.The cleared areas of ruins are almost ... Click here to read the rest of the article and see more images...

inca trail 2 





Ski Poles: Pounds you lift, swing and carry!


 By Gear West  Complete article at www.GearWest.com


Racers average between 30-45 pole plants per minute. Over the course of the 52 km American Birkebeiner the winner may have lifted his poles more than 5,000 times. A skier completing the race in 3 hours could have poled 7,000 times and a 4hour skier might have lifted her poles 10,000 times.


Skiing with heavy ski pole are not fun! If you and a friend ski a 3-hour Birkie and the friend uses Swix Triac's and you have Swix CT4's, you are lifting an additional 3 oz. per stroke. If each stroke moves your pole 5 feet. This equates to lifting an additional 6,500 ft lbs during the race! Like curling 1 gallon of milk in each hand 375 times. Will you still beat your friend?


The most important shaft properties are overall and swing weight, stiffness, and strength. Swing weight refers to the pendulum motion of a pole plant and that more weight near the pole tip requires more energy from the skier. The stiffer the pole the more of your energy goes into forward movement and the less into bending the pole. Strength refers to the durability of the pole.


The Right Pole, in the Right Length! 



Recommended Pole Length

We recommend skier's body height in cm, less 20 cm for skate, and less 30 cm for classic as our Gear West Norm for most Recreational Racers. In most cases, this will, for adults, result in classic poles that reach the center of the shoulder bone. For skate the pole will reach around your mouth. This is measured at Gear West, or at your home, with normal shoes on.


Do advanced skiers use taller poles than beginners?

For shorter races such as sprint; definitely yes. World Cup skiers can use 5-7.5 cm longer poles than recommended above. We have also seen a trend that World Cup skiers in general have increased their pole lengths the last decade. The reason is most likely the much stronger upper bodies for professional skiers these days, and shorter (sprint) tracks with fewer long sustained climbs. There are of course individual differences, but in general World Cup skiers use 2.5 cm longer poles than determined by the Gear West Norm above.  


Does technical ability change this?
Not really, but skiing with longer poles than recommended requires good technique.

Why do classical skiers use shorter poles than skaters?
In skating, bigger movements, greater speed, and always using two poles simultaneously allows you to use longer poles.

How is a ski pole length measured?

For most pole brands the length is measured form the tip (spike) of the pole to the top of the grip (not including any locking cap/wedge/building height. 


More of Gear West's Pole Wisdom, Value, Selection and Service at




National J2 Talent ID Camp


Supported by NCCSEF


The first full day of the USSA National J2 Talent Camp, sponsored by the National Nordic Foundation is in the books.  We have 42 charging young athletes here in Sun Valley and the enthusiasm is super high. Today we started off with a classic roll session with focus on Double Pole Technique. The local training environ is great for rollerskiing with miles and miles of separated bike paths surrounded by inspiring mountain scenery. Most skiers accomplished a 1:30 to 2:00 hour workout. The afternoon was the standard strength assessment used at all of the USSA Regional Elite Group Camps. For many of these skiers, this camp is one of their first steps up the National Pipeline, so a session like the strength assessment helps give them some clear objectives on what to do in their training to build their fitness. It's all about getting better, every day in some way.  Evening presentations included "Learning Strategies" and "Fundamentals of Skating". Tomorrow we challenge the group with an aerobic uphill time trial on the local Harper's Hill Climb. We could already see many of them getting psyched for a big effort. You know what we say; "If you are going to push your limits - PUSH HARD"


Thanks to all the sponsors, parents, skiers, coaches, equipment reps...everyone for all you do to help these kids improve.


Visit www.facebook.com/Nccsef during the camp to like (vote for) your athletes.


Athletes will post "vote for me" to the Facebook/NCCSEF wall (and if possible post a picture of the camp) then ask their friends and team back home to "like" them. Top 3 Liked vote getters by the end of Camp will be awarded USST BD jacket or race suit and Toko HF wax. You must Like NCCSEF to nominate yourself or to vote




j2 camp 2011 rollerski


NCCSEF will invest $3,000 in funding this year to help offset the camp costs, while USSA is donating coaching staff time, all of which help to ensure some of the top coaches in the country will be guiding these young athletes.  The NCCSEF exists to raise money to support key Pillar Projects in the Nordic skiing disciplines of Cross-Country and Nordic Combined. These Pillar Projects, such as the National J2 Talent ID camp, are specifically chosen to facilitate consistent long term athlete progression up the USSA Development Pipeline from local to international stardom.


The biggest developmental hurdle facing young American Nordic racers is gaining consistent access to quality coaching, training, and racing experiences.  Unlike their European counterparts, America's top athletes are spread throughout our vast country and live an ocean away from the center of Nordic racing in Europe.  Providing the next generations of U.S. Nordic athletes affordable and straightforward access to a progression of international quality experiences, such as this National J2 Talent ID camp, represents our nation's greatest development opportunity and funding need. 



Donate to NCCSEF here!





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Fischer's Eagles Lead Summer Grand Prix


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START Pine Tar/Waxing Clinic & Pasty Dinner

OutThere Nordic Sports


Rice Lake, WI

Friday, November 11, 2011 at 6:00pm


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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 www.SkiPost.com or email us at weanswer@skipost.com

Enjoy Winter,
Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost


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