A few weeks ago, the SMS T2 team took a trip to Oberhof, Germany to ski in a tunnel for an on-snow training camp. We were in Germany for nine days and were able to have about 12-14 sessions on snow during that time. We took a few afternoons to do strength or take it easy to recover from workouts, otherwise it was full focus for just over a week. We have a few harder interval workouts, but also worked a lot on technique. Rollerskiing is great cross training during the summer, but it still isn’t quite the real deal. A huge goal for the camp was to make sure we felt comfortable skiing on snow so that when natural snow does fall, we’re ready to hit it hard. This meant a lot of time skiing the 1.6 kilometer loop, with plenty of time to learn a few things about skiing in a tunnel.
- Dress in Layers: The tunnel is kept around -26 fahrenheit and feels equivalent to walking into an ice rink. Compared to the 90 degrees we had when we departed from Boston, this was a huge shock to the system. Although it felt strange to be packing hats, gloves, pants and jackets, I was so happy to have all of the layers. However, the tunnel is pretty humid inside so once we started moving and doing intervals, the sweat started as well. Time to take off the layers to stay cool!
Skiing with lots of layers on. (PC: Bill Harmeyer)
2. Bring Music: I think it’s safe to say that the tunnel tests a skier’s patience. Without views to look at or pretty trees and animals to spot, there isn’t much to help pass the time in a tunnel. It’s great to chat with friends, but when you’ve already been eating, sleeping, traveling and training with your teammates for months, sometimes the conversations can get a little boring. Although the tunnel was blasting some great 80’s rock and early 2000’s hits, I did plug into my own music and podcasts to help a few hours pass by.
Skiing with friends is still great too though! (PC: Bill Harmeyer)
- Use Rode Multigrade Klister: We were able to connect with a few of the German National Team members while we were in town and they gave us insight into what works in the tunnel and what doesn’t. Bottom line: Rode Multigrade Klister with a hard wax cover will have you kicking and gliding in loops until your head is ready to spin off. The snow in the tunnel is usually 1-3 years old (two while we were there) so it’s quite dirty. This means that we also had to be super diligent about cleaning our skis pretty regularly.
- Speeds are Your Friend: One of the best ways at becoming more comfortable on snow is to practice going at a high speed. Even during our easy distance training sessions, we threw in quite a few speeds going downhill to work on getting our hips high, weight fully transferred, and committing to the ski. Not to mention, these speeds helped break up 2.5 hours of skiing in circles.
- Stride with Your Hands Above Your Head: While we had the privilege to ski with some of the German athletes, a few coaches also stopped by to say hello. Legendary Axel Teichmann gave us a few technique pointers, specifically for striding. We practiced a drill when classic skiing where we would no pole ski but rather than swinging your arms in a motion as if you had poles, you held them above your head. This meant that you really had to engage your core and you had to put all of your weight onto each ski before kicking. At first, this drill was challenging for us just on flats, but Axel kept encouraging us to work on it and we were soon striding up the hills in the tunnel with our hands above our head.
Full focus for nine days. (PC: Bill Harmeyer)
Overall, our camp was extremely productive and a really great opportunity to get on snow. Living in Vermont, you never know how early in the season we’ll be able to access snow so we take extra value in these opportunities. The only downside is that the camp got me super fired up for ski season and now I have to wait a few months before I’m back on snow!