Steve is a longtime Trakkers member and a dedicated ski instructor for many years. He shares his advices based on observing and teaching beginner skiers. Cross-country skiing is an accessible winter sport and a few tricks makes a big difference to enjoy the glide.
When I teach beginner skiers the diagonal stride with poles, a common problem is that students tend to be too upright such that there is little balance over the glide ski, and the timing of the pole action with the skis is off. Many isolated exercises can be used to try to correct this, but the best method I find that makes a big difference early on is to emphasize putting the poles on correctly and gripping the pole handle between the thumb and forefinger. Then it is possible to fully extend the pole backward in a straight line with the arm by opening the hand and pushing on the strap. The action can be demonstrated statically with the student by grasping the student’s pole and moving it through the extension and recovery cycle. The straight back extension does these things:
The opposing force on the upper body naturally projects it forward over the glide ski.
Weight transfer is more complete.
Timing of the pole action with the skis is smoother and rhythmic.
Correct poling action, timing, balance and posture are learned at the beginning and committed to motor muscle memory. It is much more difficult to modify motor muscle memory later if the student develops bad habits.
Niki has been a Trakkers member for a number of years and is a first-time bus captain volunteer!
After years of participating in events and Sunday ski trips, I decided to try my hand at contributing to Trakkers Ski Club through bus captaining duties. The January 6th Sunday ski trip was my first go at the role so I decided to make a post-ski treat for everyone on my bus pre-post-ski-nap. I ended up making a nice healthy no-bake energy ball recipe. I can’t take credit for the recipe though, that entirely goes to Dinner Mom. For all those who asked, here is the recipe below:
Chocolate Date Balls are sweetened with medjool date paste so they’re free from refined sugar. Easy, no-bake, vegan recipe with just 6 ingredients! Total Time: 15 mins Servings: 224 balls Calories: 74kcal
8 medjool dates pits removed
1 cup uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond butter or your favorite nut butter
Fill a glass container with very hot water. (I heat about 2 cups in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.)
Add dates to water, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5-10 minutes. This softens the dates and makes them easier to puree. It’s not necessary if the dates are very soft.
Remove dates from water and place in a small food processor along with 1 Tablespoon of water that the dates soaked in.
Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add additional water to thin the consistency of the paste, if desired.
Set date “paste” aside.
Combine oatmeal, cocoa powder and coconut flakes in a medium sized bowl.
Add date paste, vanilla extract and almond butter to the dry mixture.
Arrowhead Provincial Park takes a little longer to get to than most other destinations we visit, but for many Trakkers, it is well worth it. This destination has a special, northern remote feel.
We asked Xavier and Sylvia to share some reflections and to suggest trails for different levels of skiers.
“We brought friends from France a few years ago – a mum and her two children plus our daughter Alice, aged 13. They all came on the Trakkers bus. The French kids were new to cross-country skiing but had a great time falling and laughing. It was a unique, very remote experience for them and they did find it cold! Whenever we see them they still talk about their good memories of a true Canadian winter!”
Trail Choice Suggestions
“For a beginner, we suggest taking the 5k Arrowhead Lake Trail. It is lovely with many views of the pretty lake. There is one big climb and a downhill, but otherwise it is mostly flat.”
“More advanced skiers should try the Hardwood Hill Trail loop. It’s worth the climb to the upper parking lot with the charming little Mayflower Warm-up Chalet at the start and finish of the trail. This is one of our all-time favourites with rolling downhills where you can stay in the tracks for a thrill! “
“This is a remote location, so ski with a buddy. And don’t forget to bring snacks, water and a map with you on the trails.”
Are you a new or returning skate skier looking for tips and inspiration before hitting the trails? Mastering skate skiing means learning a collection of techniques – Free skate as the foundation, one skate for acceleration, two skate for cruising, offset for moderate hills, and diagonal skate to conserve energy on longer, tougher hills. If you are a visual learner (and many of us are) you can get a lot out of viewing online technique demonstrations while hearing about the principles of propulsion.
Trakkers Ski School Coordinator Steve Favell recommends the instructional videos provided by CANSI (The Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) that feature Keith Nichol, a Level 4 CANSI instructor. Keith’s videos feature some of the drills used by Trakkers ski instructors during ski lessons. Here are some of Keith’s most popular skate videos:
For one video that covers a whole range of skate techniques in a little over 8 minutes, check out the video by Saul Goldman, founder of Velotique, a ski and bike store on Queen Street East.
Remember that good skate technique relies on power from the legs, so any dryland leg strengthening workout will help you prepare. When you arrive at a ski destination, you’ll be glad you put some effort into getting ready.
Let it snow!
Will you be ready to ski well when the snow arrives? Reviewing some basic how-tos can remind you of what it takes to get good propulsion on the trails.
We asked Trakkers Ski School Coordinator Steve Favell to suggest a video for us to watch to brush up on classic or diagonal stride ski technique. Steve’s pick is one provided by CANSI (The Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) that features Keith Nichol, a Level 4 CANSI instructor. This video includes some of the technique improvement drills used by Trakkers ski instructors during ski lessons.
Also popular with Trakkers members are the tips given by well-known skier Saul Goldman, founder of Velotique, a ski and bike store on Queen Street East. Check out the first 4 minutes or so if this video, filmed at Hardwood Ski and Bike, one of the club’s destinations. Here, Saul carefully explains the dynamics of the diagonal stride technique.
And here’s a very thorough video with quotes from some of Canada’s best skiers. It includes good tips on climbing hills at the end.