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Poles / No-poles Skating experiment



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 23rd 03, 02:00 AM
Mark Frost
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

Interesting (not very scientific) experiment for a skating newbie. (Skated
maybe a dozen times - came from a Rollerblade background).

I was at Okemo, VT last Sunday. On the short practice loop (around the
driving range) I was practicing going with no poles/poles. I did 4 loops,
timed as such:

1) 5 min 50 sec - no poles
2) 5 min 40 sec - no poles
3) 4 min 50 sec - no poles
4) 4 min 50 sec - with poles! - no improvement!

Of course since I knew the course better, and that helped.

How can I keep my speed up (or better yet, increase it) when I use my poles!
They seem to get in the way, make me want to use my upper body, and get more
tired, and generally detract from my (rollerblade - legs focused) skating
style!

--
Mark Frost
Bedford, NH, USA


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  #2  
Old December 23rd 03, 03:13 AM
Ken Roberts
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

With strong legs on fast flat snow, you have to be good at poling in order
for it to make you go faster. On downhill sections with fast snow, even the
best ski racers stop poling and skate with only their legs (or just tuck
it).

Mark Frost asked
How can I keep my speed up (or better yet, increase it)
when I use my poles!


The key limitation of poling is that the tip of the pole has to be _stopped_
on the ground-snow surface while forward-push force is being applied. The
faster you are going, the shorter the time before that spot of ground your
pole tip is stopped on disappears behind you. Therefore the faster you go,
the lower the amount of effective force you can apply per pole-push -- so
the less able you are to maintain that faster speed.

Unless you can somehow apply a very quick intense force thru the poles
(think "explosive"). Or unless you can apply many more pole-pushes per
minute (think "amazingly quick and coordinated recovery motions").

The shortcut to the first "unless" is to use more muscle groups and clever
aids (like abdominals and chest crunch and body weight -- not just direct
arm-push). But getting all those other means to work _together_ is going to
first require some practice time to work out the special _neural_control_
coordination just among themselves. And more neural coordination practice
time for to them work efficiently with your leg motions. And more practice
to work out the new balancing strategy.

Next, some of those new muscles haven't had much training in their new
motions, so they're going to get tired after like a minute of their new work
contribution, and painful after another minute. So it might take a few more
days (weeks?) of appropriate training stress and rest cycles to develop
those muscles to where they can make a big enough _sustained_ contribution
to make a substantial improvement in your five-minute time trial
measurement. Or it might come sooner.

The surest way to make it take less days to get faster with poling:
Take some lessons.

Ken


  #3  
Old December 23rd 03, 10:29 AM
Mark Frost
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

Thanks for the great reply. I am looking forward to lessons next time I go.
I just wanted to get the on-snow feeling again... plus I have only skied 3
times since my last lesson, and am still practicing what I learned.

--
Mark Frost
Bedford, NH, USA

"Ken Roberts" wrote in message
...
snip
The surest way to make it take less days to get faster with poling:
Take some lessons.snip



  #4  
Old December 23rd 03, 11:38 AM
Ken Roberts
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

I love to skate on pavement on inline skates (like rollerblades), so my
usual initial reaction to using poles is that they just get in the way.

Three things that could help you appreciate the value of poles mo

(a) try to skate up hills on skis, including long hills and steep hills.

(b) spend time just double-poling on your skate skis, but without making
_any_ skate-pushes with your legs. Find out what your poles can do for you
just on their own. Play with finding ways to use your poles to push you
forward even without using any arm muscles -- with your arms "locked out",
like by pressing your elbows against the side of your abdomen. Play with
pumping your legs up and down (but not skating out to the side), and see if
you can make that motion push your poles down and back somehow.

(c) Try out double-poling on dry pavement with inline skates. First
purchase some specialized rollerski poles, so you don't wreck up your snow
ski poles. Then try all the same things under (b). As you get going
faster, also try pushing the poles closer to straight _down_ into the
pavement, rather than so much toward the back, also play with explosive
versus smooth at higher speeds. I've gotten to the point where I can
double-pole on pavement way faster than I can run.

It's amazing how many variations are possible even with the simplest part of
cross country skiing, "just" pushing on your poles.

And how much power can be gained by clever mental images and neural
coordination of unexpected muscles -- not just more brute force in the
obvious main push.

Ken


  #5  
Old December 23rd 03, 11:41 AM
Rob Bradlee
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment


How can I keep my speed up (or better yet, increase it) when I use my
poles!
They seem to get in the way, make me want to use my upper body, and
get more
tired, and generally detract from my (rollerblade - legs focused)
skating
style!


90% of the power comes in the first 10% of the pole stroke. You are
probably swinging the poles too far back and too slowly.

Bring your hands up in front of your face. Elbows slightly bent. Start
the poling with a crunch of your abs. Don't let your poles go back
behind your hips.

See if a shorter, quicker poling motion helps.

Good experiment by the way - you gave yourself some good feedback.

Rob Bradlee





  #6  
Old December 23rd 03, 03:01 PM
Ben Kaufman
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

On Mon, 22 Dec 2003 22:00:17 -0500, "Mark Frost"
wrote:

Interesting (not very scientific) experiment for a skating newbie. (Skated
maybe a dozen times - came from a Rollerblade background).

I was at Okemo, VT last Sunday. On the short practice loop (around the
driving range) I was practicing going with no poles/poles. I did 4 loops,
timed as such:

1) 5 min 50 sec - no poles
2) 5 min 40 sec - no poles
3) 4 min 50 sec - no poles
4) 4 min 50 sec - with poles! - no improvement!

Of course since I knew the course better, and that helped.

How can I keep my speed up (or better yet, increase it) when I use my poles!
They seem to get in the way, make me want to use my upper body, and get more
tired, and generally detract from my (rollerblade - legs focused) skating
style!


Mark,

Since you come from a rollerblading background your legs are well ahead of your
arms in "mastering" skate skiing. I agree with what someone else was saying, if
you were already going pretty fast, the poling may not get you (in theory) much
more speed. And in your case, is probably "throwing off" your legs.

However, when you hit the trails for a few HOURS, your legs will be "kissing"
your arms. :-)

Ben


  #7  
Old December 23rd 03, 09:29 PM
Serge
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

As a speedskater (inline) I can't help but add my two cents.

I made a switch to roller ski this winter because all the speedskaters
compete indoors in the off season and I do not do indoors and prefer
to XC-ski instead.

So I expected to find my legs working much better than arms...
It is not happening. Since position of the skier is much higher than
that of
the skater, I found myself not pushing strong enough with my legs.

Having skating background does not help much at all to my dismay. The
balance is different and the push is different too. Although I push
straight to the
side, the foot relative angle is different - the "V" is wider.

So, if your Rollerblades are purely recreational (I think they are -
no sane speedskater would call skates "Rollerblades") switch to roller
skis.
It is a better training (upper body too) and you can do hills you
wouldn't
dream doing on skates.

And question to Rob - When I do V2 my arms are still passing my hips
otherwise
my timing get screwed up. What is wrong?
  #8  
Old December 23rd 03, 09:42 PM
Mark Frost
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

Serge,
I used to race on 4 wheels... I didn't get around to buying 5 wheel
super-painful-on-the-feet speedskates. It was a short recreational racing
career in NYC's Central Park.

But I echo that my xc-ski speed last weekend was from getting low to the
ground, which I cannot replicate when using poles. Will try harder.
Thanks. Looking forward to this weekend!
--
Mark Frost
Bedford, NH, USA


"Serge" wrote in message
om...
As a speedskater (inline) I can't help but add my two cents.

I made a switch to roller ski this winter because all the speedskaters
compete indoors in the off season and I do not do indoors and prefer
to XC-ski instead.

So I expected to find my legs working much better than arms...
It is not happening. Since position of the skier is much higher than
that of
the skater, I found myself not pushing strong enough with my legs.

Having skating background does not help much at all to my dismay. The
balance is different and the push is different too. Although I push
straight to the
side, the foot relative angle is different - the "V" is wider.

So, if your Rollerblades are purely recreational (I think they are -
no sane speedskater would call skates "Rollerblades") switch to roller
skis.
It is a better training (upper body too) and you can do hills you
wouldn't
dream doing on skates.

And question to Rob - When I do V2 my arms are still passing my hips
otherwise
my timing get screwed up. What is wrong?



  #9  
Old December 24th 03, 01:46 PM
Ken Roberts
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

True, you cannot fully replicate the low skating position when you add
poling, but you can get closer to it. And it's worth learning.

Mark Frost wrote
my xc-ski speed last weekend was from getting low to the
ground, which I cannot replicate when using poles.


It's sounding like you've been getting the worst of both worlds:
ineffective pole-push which is also compromising your skate-push. Here's an
approach for getting closer to the "best of both" in your Open Field Skate
(V2A) or V2 techniques:
(0) Learn to drop your hips low in your pole-push.
(1) Start your pole-push _before_ your leg-push.
(2) As your hips are getting lower in the pole-push,
that's the time for your big skate-push out to the side.
(3) Thrust your hips up forward again _immediately_
at the end of your skate-push
(4) Double benefit.

Details:

(0) Learn to drop your hips low in your pole-push.
Get lots of practice on pure double-poling (with no-skate-push). The
objective for addressing your "getting low" concern is to discover how use
bending your knees and dropping your hips back to actually power your
pole-push. Turns out that lots of the power in elite double-pole technique
comes from the _legs_. The big problem is how to get you abdominal and
chest and arm muscles to _transmit_ this leg power to the poles, instead of
just absorbing it.

This is partly neural coordination, but it's more about specific muscle
strength. Fortunately you were doing some of those "core stability"
exercises in the off-season, right? (Actually my approach is to train those
"core" muscles to _add_ power of their own, not to just stably transmit it
from the legs).

One opportunity for a quick fix: Most people extend their hands and arms
too far out in front, because they think poling is about using their arm
muscles. But for _transmitting_ force it works better to bend the elbows at
least 90 degrees, and have your elbows back somewhere near the side of the
chest when you start the pole-push. I like to "wing" my elbows out a
little.

(1) Start your pole-push _before_ your leg-push.
Short quick crunch like Rob said. I will add: Don't worry about trying to
push toward the back. Even if push goes mainly _down_, once you're up to
speed, there's a magic in the physics that transmutes your downward push
into forward motion power. Just like you can push out toward the side in
your leg-push.

(2) As your hips are getting lower in the pole-push,
that's the time for your big skate-push out to the side. Your instinct from
inline skating is right: you hips must get low in order to effectively use
your big leg muscles to push. It's just geometry.

(3) Thrust your hips up forward again _immediately_
at the end of your skate-push. This is where most snow skating is different
from inline skating, where you want to stay low for the aerodynamics. For
the most effective skating with poles, you need your hips up and forward
again _before_ the start of your next pole-push, so you can use gravity and
your leg power effectively in your double-pole push, like you learned in
step (0).

(4) Double benefit:
With this forward hip thrust move, you get to effectively use your big leg
muscles _twice_ in each stroke to deliver forward-motion power: first in
the skate-push out to the side; second by building potential energy through
lifting the upper body which is released into the pole-push.

Ken



  #10  
Old December 25th 03, 01:03 AM
Bob Larson
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Default Poles / No-poles Skating experiment

My take on this is you aren't necessarily poling wrong, but
what everyone learns if they skate well is that it is 80% legs anyway.
So the key is to apply the legs just as effectively with or without
poles.

I recently timed myself at a local park with plently of long gradual
hills, a few long enough to bust a lung on (for me). I covered it
in 65 minutes without poles, 55 minutes with poles. Skiing without
poles is a blast because you feel less constrained, can tuck
more easily, and dance up the hills without any strain
on the back. I felt like it took less energy. So for me, it seems
like I need to transfer more of that no-pole feel and efficiency over to
fully-armed skiing, primarily by relying on my legs more.

-Bob
 




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