Who's in the Burrow?

Nordic: "Yes, we're getting fit!"

Dinosaurs on Frog Lake Cliffs
Marmot Folk,

Not long ago, with the help of Candice and Douglas Brooks, I posted a text and video overview of the fall conditioning program for SBA's alpine and free-ride skiers. As I put together the YouTube movie, I was struck then by how much fun the kids were having on the new high performance Indo Rowers, Real Ryders, Sliders, BOSU Domes and Balls in the SBA Performance Training Center.

Despite the challenging nature of our conditioning program, there were big smiles on the faces of our student-athletes and they were obviously having great fun (in particular Critter and Schrage), thanks in large part to their own enthusiasm and to the positive energy of all the people who have the good fortune to work in a coaching/conditioning capacity with our student-athletes. They thrive on it. 

I turn now to another ski-racing group on the SBA campus that knows how to have a lot of fun while they're conditioning. The "Nordies" are the fastest-growing group on the SBA campus. Under Head Nordic Coach Jeff Schloss, SBA's Nordic student-athlete presence has more than doubled in just a year's time. Call it a cult of positive personality, great coaching, or both, but he and coach Ambrose Tuscano clearly have a great thing going.

"Jefe," on his way to another win

As I put together the movie on the Nordic team's summer and fall conditioning program (also embedded below the blog post), I was struck, again, by the fun that these student-athletes were having and by the practically incomparable beauty of the terrain they typically cover on their late summer and early fall conditioning hikes, bikes, runs and skis.

Beauty can be found anywhere if you look hard enough, but, where we live and work, no search is necessary. 

It is everywhere.

"Our sport is great for enjoying the natural aspects of Truckee because we don't have to stay on the trails," said SBA student-athlete and Nordic ski racer Kelly Habibi.

"We can go off the trail and enjoy some of the untouched country rather than the developed areas."

"Your settings can be taken for granted in your daily lives. When you're out training in Royal Gorge or on the back-country trip we took from the Boreal vicinity to the top of a peak, gaining 2,000 feet and down into Tahoe-Donner, you get back into appreciating your setting."

I asked Coach Jeff - "Jefe," as he is known - for an overview of the fall Nordic conditioning program. This is what he wrote:

The fall is an extremely important training time for Nordic Skiers. To succeed in Nordic racing an athlete has to have a very well developed aerobic capacity and there is only one way to achieve that: lots, and lots of endurance training.

In order to maximize on-snow performance SBA nordic skiers train year round, day after day, averaging about 10 hours a week of training in the summer months and building to about 16-20 hours a week in the fall. For the fall we used a three-week cycle where we concentrate on high intensity training in week 1, high volume training in week 2, and lower volume (recovery) in week three. Every week would have hard intervals, strength training, speed training, and lots and lots of endurance training.

Because we train so much it is important to have a lot of variety in the activities we do to keep it fresh. The most specific training we can do in the dry-land season is rollerskiing, and we rollerskied up old highway 40 a couple of times every week. We also did a lot of running including four high school XC running races in which SBA athletes had several top finishes including the SBA girls team going 1,2,3 at the Truckee Invitational in September. So we did lots of rollerskiing, lots of running, but also added some road and mountain biking, some awesome long hikes, some rock climbing, and some quality time in the SBA athletic training performance gym.

How do we know if all of this training is working? Every other week we do a time trial either rollerskiing or running and every SBA Nordic athlete has lowered their times substantially over the fall. Yes, we are getting fit!

We have been lucky to have been on snow starting on November 9th which is a great early start. Sophomore Alec Wiltz says “It is really great to be back on snow and I feel my technique and fitness have improved ten-fold since this time last year.”

Next up for a lot of the team is a trip to West Yellowstone.

The conditioning never ends, but, says Habibi, neither does the Nordic fun.

"We're a funky group, but when we're all together it's a good time."

Thanks to Coaches Jeff and Ambrose for all their help putting this post together. Ambrose supplied the video clips and a lot of the stills that you see in the movie, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpVbv0X-UOc.

Be well,
Marmot Man