Tuesday, October 9, 2001 - Perspective
XC Ottawa Update

- By: Glen McIntyre

Most cross country skiers do not have access to snow for the summer months. This has led skiers to develop effective dryland training techniques. As no perfect simulation of skiing is available a skier will generally use a range of different training techniques, each one with its own particular focus. Thus a skiers summer regimen will typically consist of running, rollerskiing, ski striding with poles and other various activities. One training technique that is not commonplace in Canada is the use of scooters.

Scooters were originally developed in the early 1800’s. These early scooters resembled bicycles without pedals. The rider would sit and propel themselves by pushing on the ground with their feet. Contemporary scooters lack a seat and have the rider stand on a small platform with one foot while pushing themselves with the other foot.

The propulsive kick from a scooter is quite similar to the kick in a diagonal stride. Thus it can be can be used to train classic technique. Compared to classic rollerskiing it is easier to avoid technical pitfalls such as a late kick. While scooting, the technical emphasis is typically on ensuring proper forward weight shift and a full leg extension.

With the wide array of scooters available there comes the question of what ones are best for training use. The small folding models with skateboard wheels are unsuitable for training; the handlebars are too narrow, high, far back and flexible. In addition they handle poorly at higher speeds and small wheels make for large falls since small rocks and holes stop them easily. Many scooters are designed to be used by lightweight children and have disturbingly low maximum “operator” mass restrictions. The XC Ottawa team has been exceeding these mass restrictions and has not had any problems except when scooters are used for things such as rail slides, bunny hops, helicopters etc. Presently the majority of the XC Ottawa team trains on mid-size scooters which have 12” wheels and handlebars similar to BMX bicycles. These appear to be suitable for training on the road and even on some trails although the minimal ground clearance can be limiting.

In addition to training, scooting can be a useful transportation method; it fills a niche between cycling and walking. Scooting offers some of the speed of cycling but with a smaller, more flexible vehicle. Indeed some XC Ottawa members now use scooting for their daily commutes. Scooters regularly earn surprised exclamations and looks of confusion that even rollerskiers can’t generate.

Over the past summer the XC Ottawa team has found scooting to be a useful and fun training method. Scooting is a relatively inexpensive and effective training method for classic technique. As an added training activity it can also be useful in providing variety and helping to avoid overuse injuries.

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