Top 4 Technique Focus Points Right Now

Posted by Gus Schumacher on Jun 30th 2022

Top 4 Technique Focus Points Right Now

At this point into my season, I’m one full training cycle into my summer block at home. I had a great May starting with the national team camp in Bend, then over to the midwest to visit Zak Ketterson and my grandparents, then to Jessie Diggins’ wedding! That stuff was all really fun, but I was really ready to settle in and work hard at home. I’m so glad to have finished this first cycle healthy and in a good place to rest and get another one going soon! One of my big goals for the summer has been to stick to my 4-week cycles, and seek out as much stability as possible, so I’m hanging around Anchorage more than in the past. This makes it much easier for me to push training and know when to take big recovery, and it helps my everyday recovery by being at home so much. Psyched to keep it rolling!!

Another big focus of mine is, and has been most of my career, technique. I always have things to think about, often too many, and it helps me to articulate those things so I can focus on a few at a time. These are some things I’m thinking about when I train these days, one from a few different modes.

1. Double pole: hands closer to each other

This is something that has been helping me apply power better through my core into my poles. In the past I’d started to let my hands widen, and while that allowed for a high tempo, it made it harder to have a stable connection to my poles. To work on it I’ve watched some video and worked on my shoulder mobility. Having greater range of motion through my shoulders is helping me open up my arms from my armpits without them having to come wide. I’ve seen the biggest impact of this in my speed work, because it gives me a slightly higher resistance to work with.

 

In this I’m (in front) doing a pretty good job of keeping the hands about shoulder width apart. Focusing!


2. Striding and Bounding: relaxed swing (forward-back) through hips and shoulders

This is a cue that really helps me relax when going up a hill. By focusing on letting my joints go floppy, I can conserve energy in the glide phase, and generate momentum with a smoother, bigger arm and leg swing. This isn’t super noticeable or appropriate when hills get too steep, but I think being relaxed during gliding is a huge key to fast, efficient skiing.

Again, I’m not a perfect example, but these are some clips where I’m really thinking about it, and trying to generate momentum through big limb pendulums. A lot of the best classic skiers do this really well (Niskanen, Bolshunov, etc.)

3. Skate: ankle flexion

This one is a little harder to explain in words, but it’s basically a focus on setting my foot down more directly underneath my center of mass. Once it’s down, I push forward to glide, and then recover my hips back over the pad of my foot, and kick again from under my body, with a flexed ankle. This is more of a body potion change, keeping everything more stacked. The idea is to use the elastic effect of one’s Achilles and calf to generate a little extra “pop”. 

Trying to stay on top of my foot

"stacked"

4. Skate: full leg extension

This is one I have to pretty consistently think about, especially when going easy. It’s easier to ski really compact and with short pushes, but I try to always extend fully out through my toes when I kick in skating. (Classic too, but the short kick is more pronounced for me in skate.) When I’m shifting my weight well, this happens naturally, so sometimes I focus on it via weight shift, but generally I want to be getting that full kick. No pole drills help a lot to emphasize the importance of this. The extra power you get from the last bit of kick is really nothing to forget about. It all helps!!

"Pushing"

This is what a full push looks like, and you can see my foot is gliding slightly ahead of my body, which I think is a good spot to be at this phase off the motion. I’m focusing more on having my foot under me before and after the kick phase.

I hope some of this helps shed some light on how I think about technique! I think the first steps in improving your technique are to watch some video of yourself and break it down, preferably with someone else with technical knowledge. There’s always something to work on, and that’s the fun of it! Get out there and work on it! Thanks for reading!

Also anyone is always welcome to DM me on Instagram or email me [email protected] to ask about specific technique stuff. I think it’s a lot of fun.