let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Now that winter has arrived in Vancouver, a number of LETC triathletes have been seen heading up the mountains for some serious aerobic cross-training on cross-country skis.

Cypress Mountain is an ideal destination, it's close to town (30-40 minutes), well maintained, offers rentals and lessons and can offer you a quick aerobic exercise fix.

A local favorite for aerobic junkies on skis are the Tuesday Night XC ski races at Cypress. Not serious races, these events are for fun, sure there are some speed folk, many "competitive but recreational" skiers and you can always expect a guest appearance by a few genetic freaks ;-) At both ends of the field...

If you've never seen a xc ski race, here's a primer;

And here is more on skate technique;

Now remember, the average xc skier on Cypress looks nothing like that.

Maybe more like this...

Well, Tuesday December 18 was the first Tuesday Night race of the 2007-08 season, and ironically the first and last race of 2007. He he he- racing resumes Jan 8 for sure, with rumours of a New Year's hangover special on Jan 2.

LETC was represented by two skiers, Alan and Jean Yves. For Alan, this was his first xc ski race in over a year, and first skate skiing race in over 2 years, a painful awakening to be sure! Luckily he dropped 30 lbs over last season so the hills weren't as steep or as long as they used to be. Jean Yves is a serious long distance xc skier, choosing to race 50 km events all winter and uses these fun races to build his fitness.

Being a training data geek, here is Alan's HR curve, with altitude thrown in for effect! For the record, his splits for the 10-11 km course were 12:10 and 11:51, negative splits... practices what he preaches. Jean Yves... well needs to refine his race tactics as he was oh so close to a negative split, missing by only 3 seconds.

Full results are here.

While xc ski races look like long distance events, physiologically they are closer to middle distance events. This means more anaerobic work (read muscular discomfort) than your typical long distance event, but also feature huge technical and tactical (change techniques, adapt to environment, competition, race course, etc.) components.

Bottom line is xc ski racing will help you stay in shape and build fitness for the upcoming triathlon season in a way no other cross-training activity will. You'll also learn that while you think you work hard on the bike and run, its a walk in the park compared to a xc ski race...

Then again, swimming 3800 m with 2000 goal obsessed Ironman triathletes will make a nicely groomed xc ski trail seem like a walk in the park...

There you have it! Try to come out and xc ski in 2008