Monday, October 22, 2001 - Perspective
NSDT Update: First Snow

- By: Shane Stevens

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Most of the Senior Development Team athletes have arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska for our early snow training camp. It took everyone a little while to adjust to having skis on after a summer of roller skiing. Also, having had our glacier camp cancelled, it has been longer than usual since we've been on snow. There isn't a whole lot of snow here, just a few inches, but there are very few rocks on the trails and the conditions are surprisingly good. I don't think anyone was sorry to have put their roller skis away for the winter.

Everyone was excited to get here and be able to ski, but this isn't the time to go out and start hammering. It's easy to forget about your training zones when you strap the skis on for the first time of the year, but it's very important to be disciplined for the first few weeks on snow. The worst thing you can do is ski too hard on your first couple of times out. You must set the limits on your heart rate monitor, and ski by yourself the first couple of workouts to ensure your not overdoing it. No matter how fit you are when get on snow, your body isn't used to skiing, and if you go too hard it will catch up with you eventually.

It's also extremely important to concentrate on technique when first on snow. Roller skiing is good at simulating skiing, but its not perfect, and if you don't think about what you're doing, you will develop bad habits which can take some work to get rid of. We will spend a lot of time doing video throughout this camp, ironing out mistakes and fine-tuning everything before the racing starts. Even if you can't watch yourself on video, concentrating on simple things like weight shift and landing on a flat ski will go a long way to making sure you're skiing properly. Skiing without poles is also always a good way to get comfortable on your skis and work on specific leg strength.

Another thing to think about is being rested before starting out on snow. The fall is a long hard season physically and mentally. You don't want to go into the ski season tired when you want to put in some solid training hours. All the athletes on the Development Team who came to this camp did two weeks of pretty easy training before entering this camp to recharge the batteries and make sure they had plenty of gas in the tank to do some good hard weeks here. This is a critical time of the year, and the fewer mistakes you make now the better off you'll be. If you're careful about what you do when you first get on snow, and if you pay close attention to the details, it will pay big dividends once the race season starts.

(Shane Stevens got a relatively late start in cross-country skiing, but his sport rich background helped him to quickly improve. He is now one of Canada's top male skiers. Several years ago Shane made the move from Manitoba to Canmore, where he trains with the National Senior Development Team.)

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