Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Perspective
National Junior Team Update: DJ’s Thoughts on Technique?

- By: David Nighbor

My name is Dave Nighbor and I am now a 100m ski-sprint specialist. I will not compete at any distance events or have anything to do with them. I will train for the day when cross-country skiing introduces short sprints and I will be ready to compete at the top of the world.

After talking to a sprint specialist and reading the biomechanical science behind sprinting, I decided to apply it to skiing. I realized that I must improve my efficiency, which is defined by having an optimal relationship between stride frequency and stride length. I sat down and said to myself “Dude, if you want to perfect these two parameters you must have experts perform a 3-D video analysis.” 3-D video analysis is a new way to do a biomechanical analysis of a technique by synchronizing two cameras at a frequency of 50 Hz. An athlete is recorded on a 20m sprint and it provides a thorough breakdown of all aspects of his/her technique.

So I packed my knapsack full of weekend essentials and went to a University sport center (name remains confidential) to have scientists poke and pry at me for only $8,500. Dr. Selurevad (great, intelligent man) told me that men, just like me, come and beg him for 0.3 seconds. I only wanted 0.5s. In a cold sweat he said “It’s possible young man, but it will take much effort to achieve such leaps and bounds.” Possible? “Ha,” I said, “it’s 0.5s in a 10s time span; that can be done”. "Furthermore," I said “Doc, if you think 0.5s is possible, I want to strive for Mission: Impossible and say 0.8s”. “Never been done!!” he bluntly responds “…not at this elite level when time is so crucial.”

We worked for hours. Days later when the results finally came in I realized it was worth all the work. I found out things like my horizontal propulsion, in respect to center of gravity, was slightly off. The horizontal velocity at the time my propulsion leg leaves the ground is at 8.45m/s versus an ideal 8.77 m/s. The reduction of velocity should be 0.10 m/s or 1.2%, which shows that I am far from being an exceptionally rational technical skier.

I went home broke and pulled out my calculator. I thought that if juiced athletes (info assumed) like Maurice Greene who must obsess over technique to shave their time by 0.4s (difference between coming 1st in A-final to being left in B-final at the Sydney Olympics) then I can rightfully assume that it is possible to achieve this in cross-country skiing no matter the distance of a race (distance being relative to time).

If I correct small points involving my technique to shave 0.4s off approximately every 10s, by thinking of it as a 100m race in terms of efficiency, I would drop 24s/10min, and almost 2 and half minutes in one hour of racing.

Why don’t distance athletes see that 100m is relative to 10 000m?

Why spend more time training and racing hard when all you have to do is ski properly?


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