Saturday, December 11, 2010

A New Level of Incompetence?

If you thought I was bad at mountain biking, you should have seen me skate skiing today. I tried so hard and I was SO uncoordinated. Erik was off hitting the trails within a short time and managed to skate twice the distance I did during our 2 1/2 hours up at Telemark, while I plugged away, "skating" back and forth on the flat "Stadium" where the kids take their lessons. I watched all those videos that made it look so easy before I left and had tips and ideas written down on a paper that I carried with me, but holy moly, was it ever hard! Balance, strength, body awareness, control - all so important. I can really see how skate skiing is an excellent cross training sport for triathletes and I hope to get out and do it regularly this winter.

For those of you who don't know what skate skiing is, I've inserted a couple of YouTube videos below, but in short, you don't follow a straight track, you move your legs as if you are ice skating. The skis are narrower and a little shorter, and they are waxed differently so that they are slick all the way down and have no grip on them so you can glide and push off from side to side. The poles are longer than XC ski poles.

There are several styles of skate skiing, all involve different ways to use your poles.
This was the style I was trying to do.

Erik bought himself a nice pair of skate skis last spring but I decided to try it a few times first before I spend any money. Luckily, my friend Carmelle just got a new pair of skis and boots so she lent me her old ones to use for awhile. The boots fit me well but the skis are a little bit long for me because she is taller, and I had to use my XC ski poles which are about 10 cm (4") too short - but overall, the fit was good enough to be able to get out there and have a good day trying it out.

Today, the conditions were quite good, with groomed packed snow, not too soft, not icey. Air temperature was perfect, only -3C (26F) so my winter running clothes worked well. I did put a pair of lined nylon track pants on over top of my Sugoi Sub Zero running tights, and I wore long sleeved base layer, Mid Zero jersey, and my windbreaker up top. The only clothing issue was my gloves. I don't have a good pair of mitts for skiing so I had to wear gloves and my fingers got quite cold a few times.

For the first 45-60 minutes we just went back and for trying to get our legs and arms moving in some coordinated kind of way. Soon, Erik was able to skate ski across the stadium with relative competence. I decided to toss my poles and try freestyle skate skiing. It was a little harder to keep my balance without my poles but I was also unable to rely on them so I started to get the feeling much more quickly. Soon I was able to skate, albeit slowly, across the stadium. I did that a few times then I got my poles and tried again. Now that I had a better feel for it, I was able to do much better. Erik said he was going to try an easy trail again so I decided to join him this time. I did ok on the flats, but I really struggled on the few gentle inclines and declines. Back to stadium for me.

Again I tossed the poles and practiced without them and again I found it much easier when I picked up the poles again. This was definitely a good strategy. We were up there for about 2 1/2 hours plus a short snack and bathroom break and by the very, very end, I was kind of getting the feel and could skate ski across the stadium ad back a few times without too much trouble.

This is a video of free skating, without poles,
which I found really helpful in getting the feel for skating.

Before I started, I was mostly worried about how to stop, but a much bigger issue turned out to be how to get up once you've fallen. I didn't seem to be able to unclip my boots from my skis when I was on the ground so I had to find a way to use my poles to push me up. It was NOT easy and I struggled quite a bit the 3-4 times I fell. I was worried about pulling a groin or twisting my knee when I fell because you feel like you are quite locked in with those boots. I guess I need to learn more about that before I go out next time.

Anyway, in 2 1/2 hours, I skied just under 6 km. I was wearing my Garmin but I had it set to stay on continuously, even when I was stopped.

So there you have it - I need shorter skis, longer poles, better mitts, and more coordination.

Can't wait until next time!

Here's a little snowman I painted today. I think he's probably a better skier too. ;)


Glenn Jones said...

I've skate/XC skied a couple of times and really enjoyed it. Much more so than even alpine skiing which I used to be quite good at. Have fun!

And yu are becoming quite the accomplished artist! Will we see your artwork on cards next winter?

mainely triathlon said...

Hi Barb I did not know you were a painter that is a awesome snowman.