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Spring offers long days and often some of the best adventures. Photo: Christian Witting
Spring offers long days and often some of the best adventures. Photo: Christian Witting

Spring offers long days and often some of the best adventures. Photo: Christian Witting

Spring is here, days are long and here is how to make the most of it.

Whether your goal is to become a World Cup skier, race a ski marathon or just enjoy the activity with friends and family, spring is the perfect time to log hours on snow.

Sandra Alise Lyngstad, who is one of the coaches at the NTG Ski Academy in Lillehammer (NOR), shares her best spring skiing tips.

Hint: What is great for aspiring juniors, is also beneficial for masters and recreation skiers, and can easily be adapted to fit your skill level and ambitions. Every hour you ski in the spring is money in the bank for the next season in terms of development and progress.

Lyngstad points out that she has three main goals for her athletes in the spring: Volume, technique and passion/enjoyment.

To achieve the first, it’s as simple as skiing a lot. With longer days, warmer temperatures and generally still plenty of snow coverage in the hills and the mountains, spring is the perfect time to log lots of hours on snow.

Check out the best tools for the season:  Gear up for spring skiing 

Technique
Technique work is much like any other time of the season: put in time to ski without poles, focus on gliding as long as possible on each ski, work on your weight transfer and balance, and pay attention to maintain good form throughout the workout.

Furthermore, spring skiing comes with a bonus: that sloppy, wet snow and washed-out tracks help prepare you for handling any kind of conditions.

And then there is crust skiing. Those early mornings with perfect, even crust that allows you to cruise anywhere regardless of trails and grooming. It’s certainly worth getting up early for.

“Get out in all kinds of conditions, whether it’s classic skiing on klister or skins, or crust cruising on skate skis. Keep your mind on technique at all times,” Lyngstad says.

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Crust skiing in the spring offers both technique training as well as pure enjoyment. Photo: NTG Lillehammer

Crust skiing in the spring offers both technique training as well as pure enjoyment. Photo: NTG Lillehammer

Passion and joy
Enjoyment is all about collecting those good, fun memories that will fuel you through the long dryland hours in the fall, and carry you through the tough winter workouts in the cold and dark.

“At NTG Lillehammer, we make sure we schedule plenty of just easy cruising in the spring. These are longer workouts where we don’t carry a heart rate monitor and don’t focus on structured intervals. These workouts are about skiing with friends, skiing in terrain that’s not always accessible during the winter season, and simply nurturing that passion for skiing,” Lyngstad says.

“Very few of us become World Cup skiers and Olympians, but we can all ski for a lifetime. Regardless of whether you end up with medals, the passion for skiing has to be the foundation,” she points out.

Spring is also the time for summit bids and backcountry touring. While beefier skis and sturdier equipment is necessary for the more hardcore backcountry adventures, you don’t need a lot of gear to head for the hills.

“Use the skis you have, whether it’s touring skis, alpine touring skis, back-country skis or even your normal classic skis. Just get out there and try something new,” Lyngstad suggests.

These are some of Lyngstad’s favorite spring skiing sessions:
Summit bids and backcountry skiing
– companionship, adventures, adrenalin, strength training, volume, balance and technique work all in one package.
Skating on the early morning crust – discover the area as Mother Nature wakes up, volume, technique and pure enjoyment
Ski play – try your favorite games such as tag, obstacle course, jumping, parallel slalom, trick skiing, dancing…. Your imagination is the only limit. No matter what you choose it will deliver a lot of bang for the effort: intensity, balance, technique, ski feel – and lots of laughs and good times.

Happy trails!

Do not forget to enjoy. Photo: Inge Scheve

Do not forget to enjoy. Photo: Inge Scheve

 

Training with the Best: 5-hour Double-Pole Sessions

 

 

Tore Bjoerseth Berdal. Photo: Team United Bakeries

 

Madshus marathon racer Tore Bjoerseth Berdal (NOR) has taken a giant step toward the top of the international level in the long-distance races, and recently was just a short toe away from the victory at Koenig Ludwig Lauf.

 

Berdal eagerly shares his training advice, and the road to success is as simple as it is harsh: there are no shortcuts to the top. The foundation is built over several years of hard work, and Berdal has spent three years building enough strength to double-pole most of the classic marathon events.

 

“I generally double-pole about 1000 kilometers every month in the dryland season, and my favorite workout is 5 hours double pole distance where we stop and eat sweet rolls along the way,” Berdal says with a grin.

 

That’s a lot of distance and a lot of hours, and Berdal admits that they are challenging.

 

“At first, I was so tired after these workouts that I couldn’t feel my arms,” he recalls.

 

And the effort is paying off. He feels stronger than ever, and hardly thinks twice about skipping the kick wax now. The first three events of the year were no-brainers in that regards, Berdal says.

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Tore Bjoerseth Berdal double-poled into 2nd place in the 2015 Koenig Ludwig Lauf in Germany on February 1. Photo: Ski Classics

 

“Everyone can double-pole Marcialonga. The race takes about two hours and there are nine minutes where kick wax would be useful: One minute in Moena, and the 8-minute climb up to the finish in Cavalese. The rest of the time, youre pretty much going downhill or flat, and kick wax holds you back,” Berdal explains.

 

The 50-km Jizerska in the Czech republic, Marcialonga in Italy, which was cut from 70km to 57km this year, and the 46-km Koenig Ludwig Lauf in Germany are all challenging, but strong double-polers benefit more from improved glide overall, than lack of kick on a few hills.

 

However, there are still some events where Berdal will wait until the morning of the race before he decides on whether to kick wax.

 

“Vasaloppet is 90km and the longest event on the schedule, and it’s not true that the course is flat. It’s littered with hills all along the course that drain energy by the buckets,” Berdal says.

 

“And the Birkebeiner will be interesting. This year, there will be a lot of World Cup skiers in the elite wave, and they will set a wicked pace up the first hills from the start trying to drop the double-polers. But if you can hang on up those hills, you’ve got a lot done. From there the glide will be the most important,” he says.

 

“I still don’t know what to do, and the snow conditions is important. There is a huge difference between double-poling up the hills in rock solid, icy tracks and battling several inches of new heavy snow. I will have to make the call on the morning of the race,” he says.

 

The best training advice Berdal has received is to listen to his body.

 

“I have learned a lot from the other more experienced guys on the team, such as John Kristian Dahl and Johan Kjoelstad. We have a really good training environment in Team United Bakeries. We train hard for hours on end, it’s a fun group to be with, and there is no better way to improve than being challenged every day,” says Berdal, explaining that training too much or too hard would be a much bigger risk if he didn’t have his training buddies.

 

“We take good care of each other too. If you show up to a workout looking tired or you are unable to keep up to your normal level, they will get on your case and order you to rest up. We are very supportive of each other and that is very reassuring,” Berdal says.

Tore Bjoerseth Berdal has thousands of kilometers on roller skis in the bank before the season starts. Photo: Team United Bakeries

 

Favorite workout: Moosehufing

Madshus cross-country racer Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, who crashed onto the World Cup last winter posting a 14th place overall in the 2011 Tour de Ski in her first season as senior, loves all kinds of workouts. But moosehufing is one of her favorite intensity workouts. Moosehuf, a variety of uphill bounding that resembles the elegant and efficient shuffling gait of moose, is a ski-specific intensity method extensively used by cross-country skiers of all levels.

“I generally like to vary my intensity workouts, but one of my go-to favorites is moosehuf intervals. I am particularly fond of 3, 4 and 5-minute intervals, often in a 5-4-3-5-4-3-minute distribution with 2 minutes recovery between intervals,” Østberg says to the Norwegian XC web site Langrenn.com. (Story continues below picture)

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg. Photo: Nordic Focus

Østberg also emphasizes that when doing moosehuf intervals, it is important to pay attention to technique in order to get the most of the effort. That requires getting to practice with a clear head and be focused throughout the workout. According to Østberg, there are lots of places and terrains that are suitable for moosehufing, but she prefers to do her intervals on gravel roads. The gravel provides a consistent surface with good grip for her poles. That allows her to get the most from her pole plants and most resembles classic ski technique.

When doing moosehuf intervals, Østberg is also focused on keeping her heart rate up through the entire interval. However, she makes sure to start out at a moderate intensity and increase gradually in order to avoid building too much lactic acid too early. Varying the duration of the intervals also makes her adjust the speed up and down in order to stay within her planned intensity zone.

“These moosehuf intervals allow me to spend a lot of time in the higher intensity zones, and during the last intervals, my heart rate often climbs to right below my max,” Østberg says, explaining that she finds these workouts both hard, challenging and fun.

Finally, Østberg recommends doing intervals in a group. She finds it motivating to have training buddies around on the hardest workouts. However, Østberg also points out that the most important element of any workout is to focus on your own effort, especially on the hard ones. Happy trails!

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