There are many cross-country ski clubs in western Newfoundland and they are starting to gear up for the coming season.
The Blow Me Down Trails in Corner Brook had its snow day and membership drive on Nov. 17 and the Pasadena Nordic Ski Club had its annual general meeting on Nov. 18.
Many cross-country skiers are starting to hit the gym or are going hiking or running to get in shape for the upcoming ski season. The more you get in shape now the easier it will be to transition to snow when the ski season arrives.
And the more fit you are aerobically, the easier it will be to start skiing without feeling out of breath on the first hill.
Another skill to develop is balance since it is such an important aspect of nordic skiing. This is also most people’s Achilles heel, so the more you practice balancing exercises before you ski, the easier it will be to find your balance on snow.
Most of our summer activities like sea kayaking, hiking or cycling may involve general components of balance, but it doesn’t transfer to cross-country skiing.
Therefore, through the fall, we will practice on balance boards that are designed to improve balance. This is an ideal exercise to do while watching television and a favourite one is a wobble board (basically a round board that has a half grapefruit-like piece of wood on the base). The wobble board is well named since that is what happens when you try to balance on it. We will use one foot and try to balance on it for as long as possible until one edge of the board touches the ground. Be sure to alternate which foot you balance on. We have posted a video of various balance board exercises on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R7ZSgWubtg.
Another great way to get ready for the ski season is to roller ski. These devices simulate regular cross-country skiing so well that by the time the snow flies you are ready to jump on skis and feel like you have been skiing for several weeks.
I regularly go out around the roads of Corner Brook that don’t see much traffic and roller ski from October to early December. You can buy roller skis that simulate skating or classic skiing (the aboved photo illustrates classic skiing). Roller skis allow you to practice all the skiing techniques available on snow except skidded turns like a snowplow or telemark turn. When I am starting out I usually do some no poles roller skiing to work on balance and develop leg power.
Then when you add poles you can feel yourself fly across the pavement. I usually choose locations that are fairly flat and that have been recently paved so that the surface is a smooth as possible.
Also it makes sense to wear a helmet and gloves in case of a fall. Many models of roller skis have brakes to slow yourself down.
A recent YouTube video that looks at some drills to improve your classic skiing on roller skis is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUwRGPiQcI4.
Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org