Cross Country Academy 2018 provided world-class instructor and trainer development,networking, idea sharing, and unmatched camaraderie. PETER BERBEE


By J. Scott McGee E

ach Thanksgiving week, thousands of cross country skiers flock to one mecca of skiing which ticks two main boxes competitive athletes seek out: 1) dependable early season snow, and 2) low elevation (relatively speaking). It just so happens

that these components are also highly prized by eager instructors, coaches, and examin- ers as they seek to hone their craft and kick off their season on the tracks. This year’s Cross Country Academy saw

record attendance, with a strong showing from several different divisions. Current and former national team members and other leaders in the cross country industry led dynamic indoor and outdoor clinics in classic and skate skiing, including Patti Banks, David Lawrence, Emily Lovett, Greg Rhodes, and myself.

UNIQUE LODGING ADDS TO FUN One great aspect to this event includes the group lodging in an enormous house that sleeps 18. With 43 skiers participating, many attendees also stayed nearby, but the house provided a hub for evening presentations, waxing in the garage, cooking big group meals (shout out to Northern Intermountain Cross Country Chair and chef Steve Haims!), and an affordable, cozy way to engage with colleagues from around the country. With a wide range of backgrounds, from alpine veterans who’ve made cross country their “thing,” to nearly the entire Central Division Education staff, to relatively new cross country instructors, the group came with a wealth of knowledge and was excited to share and to learn.

58 | 32 DEGREES • SPRING 2019

BODY WEIGHT TRAINING PSIA Cross Country Team member Greg Rhodes’ indoor presentation focused on pre- season (off snow, dryland) training, body- weight exercises and body position, a key element of the Cross Country Technical Model. One of the best ways to get ready for cross country skiing is to refine the sense of balance needed to ski efficiently. While balanc- ing on one foot without moving is hard enough, add glide to the platform you’re balancing on and it’s a whole different ball of wax. Rhodes led the group through a series of

activities that focused on static core acti- vation, followed by dynamic core activa- tion and the concept of a neutral pelvis and spine. In alpine, telemark, and cross country skiing, a shared understanding is that keep- ing the pelvis “level” (or, at the very least, not tipping it forward) is key to an efficient stance and to having the body in a position that’s ready to apply maximum power. Thus, the pelvis becomes the foundation for the rest of the spine. Rhodes shared a new change in the way

U.S. Ski Team Coaches regard body posi- tion. Formerly, the description of the opti- mal spinal alignment was some version of “a healthy teenage slouch,” with rounded shoulders and a rounded upper back.


Dec. 1-3, 2019, West Yellowstone, Montana is the place to be for all cross country lovers. Get more details and register at www.thesnowpros. org/events/cross-country-academy.

Through some study, and better race results after the change, the top-level coaches are now recommending a more upright spine with shoulders neither forward nor back. In his clinic, Rhodes led us through a sequence beginning with actively pulling the shoulders back then relaxing to a neutral stance, activating the lats and lifting the chest, and sucking in the belly, all of which support the notions of neutral spine, and activate the core. One big takeaway was the importance of adding this type of strength training well before the snow flies, so that athletes, instructors, and coaches can make the best use of the limited amount of winter/ ski training we do have.

MULTI-DIVISIONAL PARTICIPATION Rocky Mountain Division Cross Country Chair Patti Banks led a series of half-day clinics designed with divisional consistency in mind, facilitating idea sharing and explor- ing best practices used by the divisions that do the greatest number of cross country events. The consistency theme falls right in

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