Technique Training with the SkiErg
By Tim Reynolds:Green Team
Technique is critical for all skiers, from junior to master to elite. No matter how much you train, no matter how fit you get, every skier must also learn to move efficiently to go fast. For most of us, video analysis is the go-to tool for developing our technique. It's hard to change the way our bodies move without seeing what we look like, and knowing how it feels to look that way. Watching video of ourselves and of other skiers, be it training partners or World Cup race footage, is an important part of improving as a skier.
The biggest challenge with video analysis is lag time. For many, there is a disconnect between visualizing the way you want your body to move, and actually making those movements on skis. What may feel incredibly awkward underfoot may also be an important change to your technique. But it's hard to know until you can see it. With video analysis, you have to make a change and then wait for the video to verify if what you've altered has made a difference. That lag time between change and validation is a challenge.
That's why my use of the SkiErg in front of a mirror has proven critical to improving my technique. In front of the mirror, I can make changes to my body position and immediately see what those changes look like. They may feel awkward, but I can verify immediately if I'm making the change I want in my technique, which in turn speeds up muscle memory and ultimately helps make those movements trained and natural. Using the mirror helps ingrain good habits.
Double pole as a technique stands alone and must be perfected, but it's also the basis of many other movements in efficient skiing. That same movement initiates V2 and V2 alternate, and to some extent guides the body position in striding as well. For me, the side angle is the most helpful in making important technique changes. I place the SkiErg either parallel or at a slight angle to the mirror so that I can study my upper body position. I focus mainly on initiating my arms first and locking them, and then bending my spine to engage my core muscles and crunching down over the handles. Lately I've been focusing on pushing my rib cage back to really use my larger and stronger stomach muscles.
On skis, I have a tendency to hinge at the waist, and watching my double poling live has enabled me to make those subtle changes to maximize my core muscles. After you've made changes to your double pole, try moving your feet in the rhythm of V2 or V2 alternate while maintaining that new form in the double pole. And once you've made the changes you're looking for at an easy pace, try going fast while still checking the mirror intermittently. Sometimes a change at slow speed is hard to maintain when you're working harder.
If you can master the technique in front of the mirror, you'll certainly be one step closer to making it natural on snow. While admittedly not the most exciting training implement, the stationary nature of the SkiErg does allow for immediate feedback on technique. Fitness is built slowly and incrementally, but just slight adjustments in your technique can mean new found speed on snow. The SkiErg is an important tool to help you get there.
Tim Reynolds and Green Racing Project