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West Yellowstone Report: Day 1 of the 5 Day Camp

Wed, Nov  24, 2004 - By Mike Muha

Tuesday, November 23, 2004, first day of ski camp.

It was a long drive up to the South Plateau. It’s only six miles, but with a convoy of vehicles, we only went as fast as the slowest one. Its snow and ice covered logging roads all the way. Several front wheel drive vehicles have to be pushed this day – all wheel drive is the way to go.

At the upper trailhead, the snow is plentiful; skiing is beautiful. We’ve been divided into groups (advanced, intermediate, beginner) and the advanced group has been divided into two groups of eleven. John Aalberg coaches our group.

Today’s session is all about balance. Skating without poles. Skating without poles, going for maximum glide. Skating without poles, going for maximum glide on a downhill. Balancing on one ski on a downhill.

We also did quite a bit of skating without poles uphill, forcing everyone to get full extension of the leg just to keep their momentum going. In a later drill, we’d ski for several skates without poles, then with poles, then without poles, and so on. Instead of going faster, most of the group slowed down when they started using their poles!  They changed their technique and stopped doing a full extension of their legs. Instead, they started pulling themselves up the hill with their arms. I’m sure I do this as well – something to really focus on in training.

We also did some V2 drills. The best one: skip on your skis before pushing off! The couple attempts were feeble – too much thinking. The third attempt was the charm: Skip and push. It’s really a form of plyometrics on skis, and the technique racers will use in sprints to the finish.

John kept us in drill after drill – we never stood around long, never had a chance to get cold.

That was not the case in the afternoon during the classic session with Coach Allen. He tended to talk more and ski less – and we got a bit cold. We spent half the session diagonal striding without poles, on the flats, uphill, and downhill. It was a hugely beneficial drill. Frequently, he’d have us extend our glide as a balance drill.

From a technique perspective, this session wasn’t as useful for me. Allen didn’t see anything wrong with my diagonal stride. It was really fun doing the drills – they really force the issue of balance and total weight transfer.

In the evening, Thomas Alberg talked for over an hour about his career, starting at age 3 when he won his first race against a bunch of 5 year olds. I stayed for 20 minutes, then decided sleep was more important…