Both classic and skate equipment is needed since we race both techniques. They should also have a pair of hiking poles, which are just inexpensive poles that are about waist high. Their short size makes them easier to hike with than classic poles. Classic poles are typically shoulder height or below. Skate poles are typically around mouth height or below.
Classic skis have glide wax on the ends of the ski and kick wax in the middle section. Classic skis must be fit to a skier's weight so that they can flatten the ski enough to get the kick wax to stick to the snow when kicking and allow the wax to lift off the snow when gliding. The fit of skate skis is more forgiving since kick wax is not used and the entire ski is waxed for gliding. They need to be stiff enough so they don't completely flatten out when gliding on one foot but no so stiff that only the very tips/tails touch the snow for gliding. Skis that are too soft can be 'squirly' and hard to control. Skis that are too stiff are slow since not much of the ski touches the snow.
Skis and poles can be rented from the team if needed for $50. Aspiring skiers will want to buy better equipment. Ski boots are typically not provided since they wear out quicker than skis and it's hard to keep a good variety of sizes. So even if skiers rent skis, they should buy their own boots.
All skiers must have a ski bag for their skis, even those who rent. Skis get lost and broken when thrown loose into the trailer. Ski ties are also a must to keep the skis from getting beat up, even when in the ski bag. Skis are very expensive, so take good care of them.
Nordic skiing generates a lot of heat and sweat. Dress in multiple thin layers so you can adjust your temperature as needed. Thick, puffy clothing is not good for Nordic. A windbreaker shell jacket is often enough over long johns and a fleece top. Windbreaker pants are nice to have.
Avoid cotton clothing. Poly or wool is much better because it breathes well and doesn't hold water they way cotton does. Wet, cotton clothes are very cold. This includes socks. Boys should have wind-briefs for racing which are briefs with a wind blocking panel on the front. Wind-briefs should be worn for practice too if they don't have wind-breaker pants. Cold private-parts can be painful!
Wear thin mittens or gloves, preferable with some windbreaker fabric and reinforced thumb and forefinger so the pole doesn't rub a hole in it. Your hands will stay warm when skiing around. Thick, puffy mittens/gloves are bad for Nordic. They don't fit in the ski pole straps, make it difficult to hold the pole properly, and can make hands sweaty which then makes them cold. A thin, light weight hat or headband is often enough to stay warm most days. A buff is very nice to have on windy days to keep the face warmer.
Races are usually 5km and sometimes shorter for middle schoolers. They are usually Interval start, which means a few kids will start every 15-30 seconds. The kids line up at the starting line in rows and go when their start time is up. Interval starts are meant to keep racers from interfering or crashing with each other. The start time is subtracted from their finish time to get their race time. Most races are hand timed by coaches/volunteers. All the teams submit their team's times to someone who compiles them and posts them that evening.
A Pursuit style race is where the racers ski two 5km races, one classic and one skate, with a rest period between. The first race is an interval start as described previously. The second race is a pursuit start, which means the racers start the second race in the order that they finished the first race. The racer currently in first place goes out first. The racer currently in second place goes out second the number of seconds they finished behind the first place racer. So if the second place racer was 5 seconds behind on the first race, they start 5 seconds after the first skier on the second race. All following racers start in this manner. The first racer across the finish line for the second race is the overall winner of both races. Only varsity does races pursuit style. Junior varsity starts both races with an interval start.
Sprint races are usually 1-1.5km long and are run in heats. The top finishers of a heat move on to the next heat, continuing until the final heat. Racers who don't move on to the next heat are eliminated. Sprint relays consist of two-person teams with each person racing three legs and they alternate legs with each other for a total of 6 legs.
Typical Training Week
Student-athletes should be aware that this is a ski racing team rather than a ski club. We have vigorous workouts that include running and strength training. We generally don't cut athletes, but athletes are expected to put their best effort into all the workouts.
Nordic skiing requires a combination of endurance, strength, and speed. Nordic training involves those three types of training. There should be one very long, easy day a week and is about 2 hours long. This is usually pole hiking or easy roller skiing on Saturday mornings. Two hours may sound like a long time, but it's a very easy and social workout. It doesn't seem that long when you're spending a crisp Fall morning in the woods, chatting with friends. We typically do strength training 2-3 days a week. This can be in the weight room after the workout or outside as a part of the workout. Strength training is typically done with just body weight, like crunches or push-ups and whatnot. Speed training is typically done twice a week and is usually some form of intervals where you go hard for several minutes and then easy for a few minutes and repeat several times. This can be done on foot or on roller skis. The rest of the workouts are moderate/easy and last about an hour and a half or so. We also do ski technique drills and agility exercise on those days.