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for my articles in The Master Skier

Fall 2008: Perfecting Your Weight Transfer

In this issue we took an indepth look at weight transfer. If you scroll down this page you will find many examples of elite skers illustrating complete weight transfer in a variety of situations using all the appropriate skate technique for the speed they are traveling and teh amount of glide per stroke. There is also a sequence of develping weight transfer skating without poles, with the poles held on top of the shoulers. In addition more video sequences are available by clicking on Silent Sports Articles (sidebar) and scrolling down.

  • I have also dredged up some old footage of Torgny Mogren, winning the 1989 World Cup 50K race. Not only does he exhibit a very relaxed natural weight transfer, he appears to effortlessly blow away the field. While Gunde Svan dominated the early skating years by overpowering the field, his teammate Torgny became the technique model for his peers and those following. To this day, I believe that no one has surpassed Torgny "The Master" for efficient skating technique. Watch the following video and judge for yourself.
    b. Quicktime
    d. Windows Media Player

  • Race Season 2007: Skate Like a Bullet - Part 3.

    Note: Part two of this series described how to add poling without destroying the pure leg skate-off developed with no-poles skating. There are no specific video links for this article but there are many short clips on this site that illustrate poling while skating.

    In part three of this season's series (Race Season issue of The Master Skier), we looked at skating technique forced by different snow conditions and skiing speeds. To see the effect on posture by skating speed, click on Silent Sports Articles (sidebar) and scroll down to Enhancement to the January, 2007 Q&A. There you'll find a number of short video clips. One features World Cup champion Axel Teichmann, normally a very erect skier, sprinting with a large degree of flexion.

    Fall 2006-7: Skate Like a Bullet - on snow or ROLLER SKIS.

    The following is a short summary of my article (Honing Your Skate to its Ultimate - Skate Like a Bullet) in the Fall edition of The Master Skier. The short (moving illustrations) video clips hopefully will help to implement these drills. Click on the link in the sidebar if interested in subscribing to The Master Skier , where this article is featured completely, as well as many other cross country articles covering all the different areas of our sport.

    So the purpose of this article was to help you release internal tension and ski in the most efficient way for YOU. And the key to releasing those internal brakes, of muscle fighting muscle, is relaxation without applying any excess force.

    Step one: Now hop onto your skis or roller skis. Picture your body as a huge swinging pendulum. Feel the rhythm. Rock completely from ski to ski. Allow your whole body to rock over the gliding ski. Let your off-leg swing under your body, completely relaxed, actually getting a little rest before it has to assume the load of glide and skate-off.

    In faster conditions the pendulum rocks slower and the leg swings further under the body. In slower conditions, where there is less glide, the leg won’t swing under as far. But you will still feel like the pendulum on a giant clock, relaxing the off leg completely.

    • The following sequence illustrates the pendulum motion in its simplest form, no-poles skating.
      a. Quicktime Dial-up
      b. Quicktime High Broadband
      c. Windows Media Player - DialUp
      d. Windows Media Player - High Broadband

    • Note: Step two and three are the usual “missing links” when skating with or without poles is described.

      Step two: Imagine your upper body is a huge bullet. Your goal is to send this bullet into pure glide without sideways pressure. Trying to skate to the side too early kills both balance and a powerful popping skate-off. Then when you sense you are about to lose momentum, move to step three. Note: See video sequences below.

      Step three: This step involves a slight rise and unweighting and is the key to powerful skating. Only apply pressure after this upward “hitch.” If you push any sooner, you kill glide.

      In faster conditions your skis will point more forward and you will glide longer before the up-hitch and skate-off. In slower conditions the skis will be angled out more and the unweighting to skate move will occur much earlier.

      There is a hidden benefit to slightly unweighting your ski prior to pushing off. The leg is cocked or “set” for a sharper and more powerful acceleration. It’s similar to the backswing in golf. It’s a gathering of the body for an explosive, yet effortless, skate-off. Note: See video sequences below.

      Step four: Now all that’s left is an aggressive move to the next ski. This sharp motion will propel your entire upper body over the next ski for the next cycle.

      The overall sensation is one of continuous motion. The pendulum of your body never stops swinging and your legs stay dynamic. Even while you are in a pure glide the off leg is continuously swinging in and forward, subconsciously timed to be ready for the next skate-off. And when you get it, it’s like dancing on snow.

    • This sequence illustrates steps 2-4.
      a. Quicktime Dial-up
      b. Quicktime High Broadband
      c. Windows Media Player Dial-Up
      d. Windows Media Player High Broadband


      Finally apply YOUR natural skating motion without poles to the various skates with poles. This applies equally to the V-1, V-2, Flying Herringbone or Open Field Skates (V-2 Alternate).

      Your goal is to ingrain the feeling of complete weight transfer from side-to-side followed by a distinct unweighting and an aggressive push-off to the next ski. This sensation should feel the same with or without poles. If it doesn’t, intersperse no-poles skating to recapture the feeling of “your” pure skate.

      Stick with it and soon you will feel like a bullet, speeding down the trail with less effort than you thought possible. And you will forever leave the world of internal braking, one muscle fighting another.

      Next issue will look more deeply into adding poling to your skates.

      Fall 2005-6: The Upright Trend in World Cup Skiing.

      Summary: Last season there was a growing trend, both in cross country and biathlon, to a more upright style of skiing - very similar to that of the great Thomas Alsgaard. France's Sandrine Bailly won the overall women's biathlon title and Germany's Axel Teichmann was men's XC champion, both skiing with a more erect posture. However, most athletes on both circuits still skied with pronounced flexion and many were quite bent over.   Click here to view entire article.

      So, which is best for you? Unfortunately, there isn't a simple answer to that question. Individual variables (such as torso vs. leg length) mean everyone has their own "ideal" posture. I suggest that you view the following clips, then head out to a ski trail and experiment until you find YOUR most efficient way to ski.

      And remember, if you have Quicktime, you can use the arrow keys to view the video in slow motion. (You may have to use your mouse to stop the video first for the arrow keys to work.) For Media Player, see your help menu for slow motion setup.

      Video Clips: Click on the best choice for your computer.

      Midseason 2005-6: Adapting the V-2 to the Steeper Hills.

      Summary: While the V-1 is still the stroke for steeper hills, each year the world's elite climb tougher and tougher ascents using the V-2. But the V-2 of the flats is not quite the same as used on the steeper hills. While both share the same timing (of poling with each skate), there the similarity ends.

      On fast sections, the skis are pointed relatively straight forward and the glide phase is longer. But the point of emphasis in this article was that V-2 poling, on the flats, looks a lot like the normal double pole. However, that changes when the hills get steeper; then the skis are more angled out and the entire stroke is shorter. This means that the stomach and lats carry a bigger part of the poling load, the final triceps extension being shorted and even eliminated.

      But the biggest modification, to the V-2 on steep hills, is a marked change in the position of the hands. They are no longer working as mirror images of each other. The steeper the climb, the more closely they resemble the asymmetric (offset) hand positions of the V-1.   Click here to view entire article.

      Video Clips: Click on the best choice for your computer.

      Issue Three 2005-6: The Universals of Skating

      Summary: There are certain universals that are seen in all skating strokes, from the steepest hills to the fastest flats.
      1. The skier's weight is transfered completely from ski to ski with a pendulum-like rocking of the entire body.
      2. All top skiers have an aggressive posture featuring forward lean, even the most upright of skaters.
      3. Each leg swings immediately forward after skate-off. This is much more leisurely in faster conditions.
      4. The entire mass of the body moves relatively straight forward but the torso twists in a natural athletic motion to (at least temporarily) face the gliding ski.
      5. The poles push the gliding ski forward until skate-off and at that time the foot pushes perpendicular to the direction of the ski.
      6. The pole-plant is timed to occur just before momentum dies. It is this feature that determines the timing and therefore which skate is used. Example: Earlier pole-plant;V-1. Later pole-plant: Open Field Skate.
      Video Clips

      Finally, feel free to look for the "universals of skating" in ALL of the previous video clips. I hope these "moving illustrations" have been a help.

© Lee Borowski