Category Archives: XC Skiing

Teaching Beginner skiers balance, weight transfer and timing in the first lesson

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:

  1. The opposing force on the upper body naturally projects it forward over the glide ski.
  2. Weight transfer is more complete.
  3. Timing of the pole action with the skis is smoother and rhythmic.
  4. 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.

Review on Beginner Hill Lessons

Trakkers offers free lessons to members and guests. Lessons range from absolute beginners to advanced skiers, for classic skiing and skating. CANSI (Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) certified instructors provide lessons on Sunday Trips. Sylvia has been an instructor for many year and tell about her latest Beginner Hill Lesson.

Sunday, January 20 was a cold day for Trakkers who headed to Hardwood Hills Ski and Bike. I was happy to have five keen students for my Beginner Hill Lesson despite the -34° wind chill!

Because everyone was at different levels, we started on a very small hill. Getting the right body stance was important to practise to build confidence. We gradually moved to snowplows. We didn’t move to higher hill until everyone was comfortable.

The benefit of having a lesson dedicated to hills is there is plenty of time to practise.

Some highlights were:

  • learning herring bone technique to get up the hill
  • body position and straight run
  • snowplow
  • snowplow turns to manage turns on trails

In addition to the many skills learned, we all managed to stay warm for the 75-minute lesson!

The special moment came when everyone skied snow plow and snowplow turn on a higher hill.  Applause and cheers rang out for an absolute beginner who clearly made the most progress.

If you’re hesitant on hills, sign up for the Beginner Hill lesson. With the guidance of your instructor, working at your comfort level and having lots of time to practise you will feel the difference!

Learn more about the ski lessons and tips to ski at trakkers.ca/lessons.

Our first season with Trakkers!

Every winter, I told myself that I should really join a ski club to enjoy the snow, but every year, I’d be too busy, it was too cold….maybe next winter…

But this past winter, I joined Trakkers Ski Club! Partly because I wasn’t able to run due to a left knee injury. And partly because I wanted to get my preteen son out more during the winter, and Trakkers is the *only* club that allows kids to go on the ski trips. He didn’t need a membership, which was even better, so if he hated it, at least there’d be no financial hit.

We loved it! I ended up buying cross country skis for myself, and then for my son, and for the first time ever, I found myself wishing it would snow! It was fun getting to know the various ski resorts, and all of the members were very welcoming and laid back.

A bonus is that lessons are included in the membership. Although I had done some cross country skiing many many (many) years ago, my son had never been on skis. After one lesson, he felt confident enough to ski, and after one outing, he said he wanted to go the following week!

The most amazing thing for me was that the knee problem I had been experiencing didn’t interfere, because cross country skiing is so low impact and emphasizes different muscles than running.  By the end of the season, my left knee was actually strong enough that I could run again, after being off it for nearly a year.

The only problem? There weren’t enough snowy weekends! So if you’re at all interested, put it on your to-do list to try this club next winter (you can try it by just paying the bus fee a couple of times before buying a membership). It’s affordable, it’s a fun way to pass the winter, and you’ll be so fit by the end of the season. We’ll be back next season!

 

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