Volume 17 Issue 29: Nov 19, 2015
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Do you have a Nordic training, technique, equipment, travel, or event question? Just email us at 
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Hi Andy - I have been roller skiing all summer and yesterday, tripped over my pole doing hill repeats (up, that is), and learned that I broke my thumb. I don't think it's terrible and am seeing a specialist on Monday, but I'm mostly concerned about keeping up with skate ski specific exercises to do thumb-less over the next 6 weeks... What would you suggest?
Thank you!

It is never bad to ski without poles so go ski or rollerski without poles and work on weight transfer and glide.

I also suggest you perhaps try Start' s Solid strap that wraps the hand completely in Carbon/nylon taking pressure off the thumb.
Andy at SkiPost

I am 60 year old birkie wave 5/6 skate skier (i.e., very much a citizen as opposed to a racer).   When I ride long fast downhills my leg muscles get very tight (probably out of fear) such that it is hard for me to smoothly step into a no pole skate as I hit the bottom of the slope in order to extend the momentum achieved by the downhill ride.  I have to sort of take some minor, inefficient steps to sort of release the 'fear grip' in my legs before being able to move into a smooth no pole skate.. This is especially true when there are turns on the hill or near the bottom that I must negotiate. I am afraid that I both waste energy in my legs by tightening so much on the downhill itself, AND lose efficiency and glide at the bottom not being able to just naturally immediately step into a nice skating motion. Any tips or training suggestions to relax more on the downhills (without losing balance) such that I can transition back to skating more easily and milk that glide momentum more than I am? 
Thank you!


I would suggest you just practice downhills. But start on a smaller hill that you do not fear and see if you can increase your speed and efficiency on it. Work on getting into a good flat ski, gliding position and try to make every skate stride push off work for you. Practice how long you can balance up on just one ski.  Do not take micro skate strides but work on a complete push off then glide on next ski. As you get better at the easy hill move to medium hill. And make sure your boots fit you well as they are foundation for stability.
Andy at SkiPost 

60+ Threshold

As a 60+ yo skier, trail runner, and cyclist, I'm interested in more information regarding benefits/costs of threshold training (L3; 85-90% max HR) and your comments about it having "less than optimal benefits" and "high cost".  I've always read that threshold training was the "best" training for endurance athletes, especially as we age.  L4 (90-95% max HR) was usually recommended for the 3-4 weeks before competition season, specifically due to it's high cost to the CV and also immune systems.  Other times it was explained as "older" skiers focused on marathons anyway (not always true), and most would rather avoid L4 training (also not true).  Can you recommend any specific literature for us to investigate or personal coaching experiences that have led you to question those older beliefs?  Does it have to do with the time required to do the longer L3 workouts, the recovery time needed, or the overall stress required to truly make a significant change in the system?
Thank you for your time.
Answer by Jim Galanes
Thank you for your question. This really gets to the "heart" of the matter.
First a brief preface.  It is not clear to me how people are defining "threshold" or Level 3 training.  The research I have read suggests this point typically occurs somewhere around 85%-88% of max heart rate.  I suspect many athletes are classifying training as L3 or threshold at levels significantly lower than this.   I am answering your question assuming that threshold refers to training at this higher level as I am very confident there is very little benefit and significant downside to training at levels around 80% of max heart rate.
We look at this threshold training question from a cost / benefit analysis.  Here's what we have learned using Firstbeat.  The workload of any giving training session is a function of time and intensity.  Threshold training tends to be of longer duration at a relatively high intensity level.  As a result, it will produce an EPOC training load of somewhere around 200.  Maximal training will likely produce a very similar workload because it is typically done for a shorter length of time.   So we are starting from the premise the cost of these two types of training are approximately the same.
What do we learn from exercise science?  I believe the science has verified the benefit of VO2 Max training (training above 90% of max heart rate).  It results in a positive shift in lactate threshold; an increase in mitochondrial and capillary density in the working muscles, and, most importantly, it improves performance.  Some may argue that there are only marginal gains for an already fit individual in aerobic capacity.  This may be the case but I believe the positive effects on other aerobic markers such as the ability of the muscles to produce higher levels of power and improved training and competitive performance are significant.  With my athletes I consistently see significant improvements in speed and power at threshold and I attribute that to maximal training.
What does science tell us about "threshold" training?  I have not found much research that documents significant positive effects.   This is not to say that there are not benefits, but only that I believe the positive effects are not consistent or clear.  I do believe it can improve economy, efficiency and fatigue resistance all of which become important in longer race efforts.  Also, I can see some value in threshold training early in the year as part of the base building phase to prepare for harder intervals.
It is our fundamental belief that the best effects from training come from reducing errors of implementation and doing those things in training that we know work and have the desired effect.  Given its inconsistent and unclear benefits, I do not believe threshold training should serve as a staple intensity training for skiers.  It costs too much for inconsistent and unclear benefits. 
One final note, it is important to carefully monitor the dose of maximal training and ensure effective and adequate recovery.  For most masters age athletes, in a period when we focus on Aerobic Capacity training, we might recommend a small dose, 5-6 minutes one time per week and slowly increasing the load over weeks or even a couple of months. For most, the recommendation would be on one session per week or perhaps two every ten days to ensure proper recovery.
Jim Galanes           

Lighter Swing Poles = Faster Skiing


Why should skiers care about their ski pole selection?

Ski Poles are often the most overlook piece of a Nordic skier's equipment. But ski poles are the only piece of your ski equipment that you actually hold, swing and lift the entire way. Racers average between 30-45 pole plants per minute. Over the course of a marathon like 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 4 hour skier might have lifted her poles 10,000 times.

But how much difference can a few oz. make?

Extra weight is not fun! If you and a friend ski a 3-hour Birkie and the friend uses their new Start Race 1.0 and you use your old 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 weight, 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.

What is the Recommended Pole Height?

Start recommends skier's body height in cm, less 20 cm for skate, and less 30 cm for classic as our 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 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 Norm above. But if you are a weekend warrior classical skiing long sustained climbs like at the Birkie be careful about chasing what World Cup skiers use in length. The norm is good.  

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 from the tip (spike) of the pole to the top of the grip (not including any building height of the locking cap/wedge).


What makes Start poles special? 

Start's pole deliver minimum swing weight and maximum durability at every price point. With 8mm at the basket Start delivers the lowest swing weight plus thicker sidewalls for best durability.


Start is the low swing weight 
and high durability 
pole choice of 

This Bliz 
 Bliz for winter are now in stores.

 Check out  the This Bliz video from Bliz World Cup stars including Charlotte Kalla, Marcus Hellner, and Robin Bryntesson. 
This Bliz 
This Bliz
What did Caitlin wear?
What Bliz did Caitlin wear when she won Bronze at the World Championships?FM

Caitlin wore the Bliz Rush (aka no-flip). It is a new product for this winter (unless you raced at World Championships last year). It retails for just $79.95 and arrived in Bliz retailers this week.
Andy at SkiPost/Bliz

Salomon Nordic



  Skin is in.



Product Testing

 Start Poles & Wax
 Bliz Active Eyewear

Nov 24-28

 Sunday, December 13th




Saturday, February 6, 2016
Sun Valley has snow 


West Yellowstone has perhaps best skiing in the world
 right now.

A skiff of new overnight snow, 22 F. Trails groomed: Rendezvous, Dead Dog, Deja View, Biathlon Range and both Sprint Loops, Volunteer, Jerry's and the Doodle. Really nice early season skiing. Skate and classic 5.5 meters wide, skate lane is starting to stiffen, should be very nice skiing with the mild temperatures.

Yellowstone Ski Festival

With the 2015 Yellowstone Ski Festival in sight, the final details are wrapping up.  It is not too late to register for a clinic.  Consider a three or five day Nordic clinic to start the ski season off right.  Or a one or two day to fit your holiday schedule.  Take in an early season race.  There are five different races at this year's ski festival.  Online registration is available now.  Sign up by Thursday, November 19 to avoid late fees.  

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 to attend the 2015 Yellowstone Ski Festival. 
For more information on the Yellowstone Ski Festival, please visit



 Don't Miss Out on the

Greatest Show on Snow!

Nordic Job Openings

Nordic Job Opening? email to post

Copper Country Ski Tigers Head Coach Devo Program 
Galena Lodge Nordic Ski Instructor Check out 

Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies, Granby Nordic Groomer info here
Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation Assistant Nordic Coach
Tahoe Cross Country Head Coach for Junior Development & Competition Team

BNJRT Co-Head Coach and Assistant Coaches About

Agamenticus Ski Club Assistant HS Coach & Assistant MS Coach
Clarkson University Asst. Nordic and XC coach  and click "Career Opportunities"

Momentum Northwest Assistant Coach  

Mansfield Nordic Club Development Team Leader Position

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 email us and visit


Enjoy Winter,

Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost
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In This Issue

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This Bliz
This Bliz

25 Medals for Bliz Athletes 

Start Kick Waxes

Start Wax  and Poles Explained


West Yellowstone




ski erg


Jon Engen

Jim Galanes


Start Genius Dealers 


For more Start USA info  



BLIZ America Dealers 



For more BLIZ USA info 





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The one gift you receive at birth is time.  You'll never have more  than you have today.  Find the Time.

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