Andrea Dupont

SSS on snow

I left West Yellowstone fairly happy with my races (except for the crash in the sprint) but with the feeling that my classic striding needed some serious work especially when sprinting. When I was racing I would slip when climbing hills, even when I knew I had enough grip. This told me that something was not quite right.

So I sat down with my coach to decide how to deal with my technique issues and hill sprints and classic on snow SSS was the prescription.

SSS refers to Ski Specific Strength. In the summer SSS is the hardest workout you can imagine. It involves intervals climbing a hill, pulling a bike with a coach that applies enough pressure to the breaks that you are required to be explosively powerful with every stride or you literally do not move. I am aware that this may make our team sound somewhat crazy, but it really helps fix technique issues because if your technique is off the power disappears and literally stop in your tracks.

SSS in the winter is more about muscular endurance. It may involve double poling or legs only for an hour or for shorter time and steeper hills. So we set out with stickier wax than the conditions required, on steep Canmore hills, that most find hard climbing using their full body. The workout was to climb a steep 2 stage hill with a gradual climb at the end and then descend and climb again. I have to say after a couple of reps of the hill I was really starting to question the method behind this madness, the hill was really too steep to have nice long strides and half of the time I had to resort to narrow harringbone on the steeper bits. But somehow this continuous legs only striding helped me to find that perfect position for optimal grip and balance. At the end of the hour we did a couple of reps of the hill that started legs only and just as we hit the steeper pitch we were aloud to cycle in the arms and do a short sprint. Suddenly with everything balanced I was able to accelerate up the hill. By being centered and stable in my core I was able to move my limbs way more effectively. I am pretty excited to test out my new found sprinting striding in the classic sprint this weekend. Until then.

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