|US National Development Group Info|
By: Miles Minson
The Cross Country National Development Group is designed to assist young developing athletes to reach their goals of international excellence. We address the issues that relate to skiing development while trying to enhance a lifestyle for the future through educational and vocational opportunities.
All athletes nominated to the program must be in compliance of the program's outline to be accepted into the Development Group.
The season's preparation and competition schedule is (2001):
|May 27-June 4||Bend, Or||On-snow Camp|
|Aug 13-20||Eagle Glacier, AK||August On-snow Camp|
|Nov 3-4||Fairbanks, AK||Sprint C, 10/15 km F mass start|
|Nov 15-25||Silver Star, BC||On-snow Camp|
|Nov 23-24||Silver Star, BC||Sprint F, 5/5 and 10/10 pursuit|
|Dec 8-9||Thunder Bay, Ont||5/10 km C, 10/15 km F|
|Dec 13-16||Telemark, WI||15/30 km F, 5/10 C, Sprint F|
|Dec 29||TBA||Gold Cup, 5/5 and 10/10 1 day pursuit|
|Jan 5-13||Bozeman, Mt||USSA Nationals - Nor/Am|
|Jan 21-27||Schonach, GR||World Junior Championships|
|Jan 30||Sun Valley, ID||Grand Prix 5/10 km F, Sprint C|
|Feb 2||Soldier Hollow||Sprint (not scored)|
|Feb 9-24||Soldier Hollow||Olympic Winter Games|
|Feb 9-10||Central Europe||OPA Europa Cup|
|Feb 16-17||Central Europe||OPA Europa Cup|
|Feb 23-24||Central Europe||OPA Europa Cup|
|March 2-3||Central Europe||OPA Europa Cup|
|March 9-10||Central Europe||OPA Europa Cup|
|March 16-17||Central Europe||OPA Europa Cup|
|March 30-Apr. 6||Eastern US||Eastern US Spring Series|
The components of the development program are a fulltime Residence program, team camp opportunities and appropriate competitions.
In the Park City Residence program we have set up our schedule to allow the athletes to spend the first couple months of the summer (May and June) where they want to live, training with a plan, yet non-specific endurance training. Once the athletes reach Park City in July, we focus on a ski specific program intended to reach our training goals. Our schedule is an every other week mini camp. This simply means that the athletes train in a group with the National team coaches for 1 week and then the following week they train on their own and have the opportunity to individualize their training and work on things independently. In the week that we are together, we focus tightly on skill development, technique analysis, sport education and our monitoring process built around a solid week of training. We take blood lactates and perform bi-weekly field tests with lactates to develop a profile to help the coaches and athletes understand appropriate training zones, training progress, monitoring and evaluation. We build in all components of sport education when possible throughout the week.
It has been our experience that the daily contact and feedback process between athletes and coaches is key to the success of a program. The week of independent training provides the necessary window to allow athletes to grow on their own.
With the NDG, we work with 6 training blocks, as outlined below, including the time frame and goals of each period, activities involved, duration and intensity within the periods and how we will address evaluation and monitoring throughout the season.
Period 1- Basic Endurance 1
April 29 - July 7, 2001
This period is designed around basic endurance activities that are generally non-specific to skiing. This allows the athlete to incorporate some activities that got them "where they are today". This could include biking, hiking, kayaking, running, etc. Things that still are endurance based. After they reach Park City in July, we focus more on ski-specific activities. This is a period for building endurance and general strength. We give them a more specific general strength program designed around "core strength". Endurance training should be mostly distance and some over-distance workouts utilizing a variety of activities.
Period 2- Basic Endurance 2
July 8 - Sept 1, 2001
This period is a continuation of Period 1 with a focus shift towards more ski specific activities (i.e. roller skiing, ski imitation, ski walking, hill bounding, spenst, etc.). In this period we continue building general strength and introduce specific strength. This period contains the most volume leading into a very specific block of intensity and strength. We continue to build endurance, build general strength, start to apply specific strength and introduce some intensity. Duration of the workouts is still largely distance and over-distance while building strength.
Period 3- Intensity Block
Sept 2 - Oct 13, 2001
In this period we drop the volume slightly and concentrate on large block of intensity sessions. We are now trying to build power and explosive strength. We incorporate explosive strength in a variety of activities; bounding intervals, skiing intervals, spenst, specific strength sessions, and in our core routine.
Period 4- Endurance Maintenance
Oct 14 - Nov 17, 2001
This is a transition period from dry land to snow. We focus on endurance training again, maintaining core strength, building endurance strength, with very little intensity outside the Nor/Am races. We focus on recovery approaching the very long competition season. Activities include ski specific either on snow or dry land depending on the conditions. We increase the volume slightly again from the previous period.
Period 5- Competition Period
Nov 18 - April 6, 2002
We have an extensive competition period competing in 10 Nor/Ams, the Gold Cup, the Chevy Truck U.S. Nationals, the Olympics, Europa Cups and Spring Series. Our primary focus with this group is still on the Europa Cup, even though it is an Olympic year. This will be a tough schedule with much travel. We spend a lot of time during the summer discussing the priority of these comps and how we can help manage the stresses of travel.
Period 6- Restoration Period
April 7 - May 4, 2002
During this period it is important for the athlete to get off of the race skis and to go have some fun with and family. Rest, sit on the couch, and tell your mom "I can't do those dishes, I'm resting". They need to be fresh in body and mind before we start the next training year.
This team's travel is possibly the most of any athlete in our sport in the world. It is important that these athletes are aware of the associations and stress from travel and how to cope with these situations. They must be fresh to race. They will be fresh if they had a good preparation period. They need to stay healthy and focus on recovery while maintaining your training, focusing on a lifestyle conducive to a professional athlete. They are young and hungry. We need to teach them patience in training and competition. They need to learn "how to win" in all situations throughout the world. This requires a belief in themselves that they have prepared the best to their capabilities so you enter every race with total confidence. We try hard in the summer and throughout the year to build a team with individuals that are willing to work together, help each other, and most importantly, respect each other as professionals.
We work in the summer residence program as 1 week on with the staff, then 1 week apart. We focus tightly on the technical and educational aspects of the sport on the week with the staff. The week of training alone is for them to take the information they have been digesting and experiment to learn more about themselves.
We monitor training through periodic blood work, field tests, heart rate monitors and our training log entries. We have field tests this summer that are staged periodically for evaluation of improvement. These include the "Canyons ski walking test", Soldier Hollow roller ski time trials, double pole uphill time trial, and others.
The athletes are evaluated at the end of each period on a variety of areas, which include; training markers, physical condition, mental state, and volume and strength assessment. We sit down and discuss all training aspects, setbacks, improvements, and make necessary adjustments to the program with their input.I have based our training plan this year around a 700-725 hour year. The breakdown is approximately as follows:
We build volume rapidly during the summer so that we can have a solid intensity block in September followed by an endurance maintenance program before heading into the competition period.
Team Camp Opportunities:
The camp opportunities are provided for the team members to bring the athletes together for a minimum of three times over the course of the preparation period to renew the contact with the snow. We have specific goals set for each camp pending on the camp and conditions. We always revisit technique in a group setting. It is a chance for athletes to test new skis and work on ski preparation. We work with our team's sport psychologist on team building skills and individual mental skills. Even though we are an individual sport, individuals perform better in a team environment. We feel that having only three camps, spread adequately throughout the preparation period, trying not to disrupt the consistency, rhythm and productivity of the residence program, can be a highly educational and productive training setting.
One of the keys to an athlete's success is that they are placed in the right environment whether it is training or competition. USSA has developed a domestic competition calendar which enables us to attend many domestic races that are appropriate and necessary for athletes to prepare to the next level, Europa Cup, World Cup and other high level international competitions. The plan for the USSA Development team is to dominate competition at the Nor/Am races and aim towards immediate podium finishes at Europa Cup. However, the goal setting process that we go through with the National Development athletes focuses on the individual training markers that are set yearly between the athletes and their coaches. We can set small training goals and measure improvement periodically throughout the preparation period. It is this improvement that will assist athletes the most in reaching their performance goals.
Athletes need to know that if they are going to be on the podium in 2010, there must be a very defined path how to get there. You cannot win a medal in 2010 if you are not in the red group (top 30) in 2008.
I have had the pleasure of working with some of our top developing athletes and coaches for the past 5 years and I know that if we take a clear and defined path towards excellence, we can become the very best in the world.
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