It’s interesting to watch Maurice’s video together with Susanne’s Diagonal Stride video as it shows how similar principles apply across skate and classic techniques.
Maurice has great positioning and nice stability through his torso. He is concentrating hard on his technique and is directing his gaze downward at his feet. By looking more forward down the trail he will put his shoulders in a better position and open his chest for better breathing.
Maurice has a longer kick, technically known as a late kick. This is throwing him off so that his weight is farther back than is ideal. It also affects how he is able to set himself up for his next kick.
It’s easy to believe in cross-country skiing that applying more force for longer will make you go faster, but it’s not as simple as that. It’s actually more important to develop your pole and leg pushes quickly, rather than to push for longer.
Force is a product of mass and acceleration. You can’t do much about your mass, but you can work to make quicker, sharper movements. In one skate, you want the initiation or start of the pushing phase to be characterized by the rapid development of force.
This way you can use your body weight more effectively, then relax through during the follow through. This also helps keep your weight forward, which will improve your glide and set you up in a nice aggressive forward position for the start of your next pushing phase.
(Scroll to bottom for a downloadable PDF of the transcript.)
Kim: This is Maurice. He is one skating, obviously, at Sovereign Lake in the stadium.
Chris: Hi Maurice. Beautiful ski conditions in Sovereign. One of the things I like about all the videos is being able to try and figure out where it is in the country, or North America. Because I have skied in a lot of these locations.
So, first off, I really like the general positioning, especially the control in the torso. The first very little thing that strikes my eye is where you’re gazing: straight down at the snow. It’s really, really tough. It’s such a small thing, but if you’re looking more out this way it gives you…your neck changes the position of how your shoulders and how your body works.
When the head is pointed down here it creates a lot more tension in the neck. It also doesn’t allow the shoulders to open up as effectively. Maybe that’s just because you’re really focussing hard on the technique. Sometimes we do those little things when we’re really trying to focus hard on our movements. That’s one.
The other thing that really stood out to me was the far end range. Because I like to really key on the front end range. So being able to be here. Again, because the head is kind of tilted down, you don’t get quite the same initiation through the poles and the shoulders. It’s a bit of a controlled push, which then means it’s a lot more centred around the arms versus using the whole torso and body weight through the poles.
But then, see? It’s a really defined finish there, and a really long push off back there.
I like to see everything really come from the start. So, if you were here – Ideally, at the highest point here, the poles would be almost ready to plant. Then you’d be able to drive all your force down, over top of the knee and into the foot and over that ski.
So you’re able to get that first really big initiation through both the poles and ski distinctly, at the beginning. Then you’d be able to relax more the rest of the way. But [instead] it’s a very strong push off at the end, on both ends, especially on the right side. You can see just how straight it is there. How straight it is there.
That makes it really hard to – you push off, you immediately want to be able to get on to this next ski and be in this position here. And, if you can see… follow these two…you’re now quite a bit behind that heel of that boot. Hopefully those lines don’t confuse you.
Kim: So what you’re trying to say here is that there’s a lot of finish.
Kim: Very extended leg. Arms poling far back. And that’s making it harder to get to the front.
Kim: He’s really killing the finish, but not the start so much and you’d like to see the emphasis the other way around?
Chris: Yeah. We were just looking at Susanne’s diagonal stride video. We were talking about kick in there. It would be a similar concert here in terms of a late kick, where the kick is at the end, versus at the beginning.
What that does is it kind of sets your hips back in the gliding phase. So you have to work a lot harder in order to bring the hips and everything forward. In this position here you see the shoulders are at the heel position. The hips are a little further back. When you go to push off that ski, you want to be landing in a really aggressive glide position, which is going to put your shins and body more in that kind of angle there. Maybe not quite that extreme. That was a very aggressive position!
And then, because of that, the only way to come up – and see you’re left leg is really straight here, as you’re in the glide phase. In that glide phase, you want to be – you want to have more angle in the ankle, to promote that glide phase. Everything’s really straight. But we want to see everything more going in that direction, more down the trail.
Again, I think a lot of it starts here. I think if you were to look more there.
Kim: Direct your gaze. Those lines are where you’re supposed to be looking, in case that’s not clear.
Chris: It’s like lasers.
Kim: I totally ski like that. I always have my head down. It’s part of going into your own space. But I have been trying to do a better job. Maurice, one thing I try to think about is instead of thinking about where I’m looking, I just try to lift my chest more and that should allow us to breathe better as well.
Chris: So start with where you are gazing. Open the chest a little bit more. And then really working on emphasizing the very front end of the kick and pole [push] versus the back end.
Kim: So the kick sharper at the start, downward, loaded up with the bodyweight.
Kim: Awesome. Thanks, Maurice!