Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Skimo Bread and Butter

Well it’s the final week before I head over to Verbier, Switzerland for 2015 Ski Mountaineering World Championships. After last weekend’s Dogtooth Dash, I was feeling better about my result.  The base is feeling good and a couple of productive high intensity 30-30 interval sessions really tuned up my high end.

Following the Dogtooth Dash was an informative Q&A session with Alexandre Pellicier, 2008 Skimo World Champion.  Some of the tips that I took home were:

-Ski as much as possible on race skis, and practice quick transitions during training. Higher cadences are easier to maintain on lighter gear. A skier who spends lots of time skiing on race skis will get comfortable on race skis.

-His warmup involved 30mins of aerobic followed by some short openers (high cadence or higher intensity). For example, he would ski a 600m vertical course to warmup, race the 600m course, then cool down on the 600m course!

-Who to watch for inspiration: William Bon Mardion, Seppi Rottmoser for skiing. Sprint racers for transitions. Ignore what Kilian does with his arms because apparently it is wrong!

-Skinning technique: Try to skin without poles and on an actual skintrack (not a groomer) to work on balance, a key to efficiency. Holding the poles by the grip with the hands in the straps, even on bootpacks, allows you to use them to climb, demonstrating that they are not just there for balance (holding them midshaft). High cadence!

-Pierra Menta is all about recovery!
-I asked Alexandre about what he would consider his bread and butter intervals, something was lost in translation and instead we got an answer about periodization, with higher intensity starting in November/December.

I have forwarded a question to Stano about training, while based in the city.

Now back to 2013. I was living in Canmore, working part time usually 3 days a week, so I usually got out skiing 3-4 days a week. I had a midweek pass at Norquay and a pass at the Canmore Nordic Centre. I like to think that I had a really good season that year while keeping things pretty fun!

-When I went ski touring with my friends, I rarely skied on race gear and I rarely did intervals while touring, except for a couple of times where I did a hot lap. I did ski with some fit friends though! I think skinning technique is very important so the time I spent skiing in the backcountry was helpful. I was able to get out in the backcountry lots in October and November.

-I did a lot of Nordic skiing, skate and classic, and I searched out the rolling trails and longer, steeper climbs at the Nordic Centre. I loved going hard up the hills when I got to them. I found both techniques productive both for fitness and skimo technique.

-The highest intensity stuff that I did would be about 4-5 reps of leg blasters (20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 jump lunges, 15 jump squats) with some rest in between or 5-6 times up the powerplant hill in Canmore: Starting with the stairs, then up the steep gully (which for later sets was very hard), then focussing on speed as the angle eased off. These were about 3minutes of pretty hard running per set. I did 5 of these workouts over the season.

-Avalanche conditions were pretty good that season, so I did lots of bootpacking when I went out. I think bootpacking is awesome training as I was going so hard that I had to stop and rest!

-I went to Norquay about 9-10 times, mostly on race gear, mostly doing Lone Pine/Gun Run laps. I found these laps were not long enough to really make my legs scream though.

This year my training has consisted of:

-Skiing on the weekends. Although I didn’t get out until mid-November, and not again until December, but since then, I’ve gotten into a fairly good rhythm. I haven’t done more than a 2200m day, though I’ve done a number of them, and with some fast partners. Not much bootpacking in there.

-Fatbiking! I find I can push myself fairly hard on the bike and some extra traction on the climbs helps with that as well. Some of the top stairclimbers in the world are cyclists, so I think the motion crosses over well to bootpacking or steeper climbs.

-I’ve skied at the ski hill when the lift ticket has been included in race registration. Although the legs are already tired from racing, I’ve found that I’ve been able to beat them up. Obviously I could use more skiing. A neat thing about Kicking Horse or any mountain with hike-to terrain is that I can get some safe bootpacking in as well!

Of course all of this comes after a summer of mountain biking, racing, and group rides.

An obvious tool that I haven’t utilized much of are the many hills and stairs in the river valley. These are shorter in duration than my 3 minute powerplant route but would be good for working on bootpack speed and transition technique (although the snow in the city has been terrible).

I don’t find classic skiing to be as effective as the trails are flat and I can’t get enough grip to ski the short hills with the intensity they deserve. I’d have to drive across the city to go skate skiing so that is out of the question!

Unlike cramming for an exam, which actually works (trust me, I mastered thermal stresses 1hr before the CivE 270 midterm, then I was one of 2 people in a 200 person class to get 100% on the exam), you can’t (and shouldn’t) cram for a race aside from mastering techniques. But these are some tricks to keep in mind for the rest of the season.