ski vs ski

When winter arrives in Vancouver, a number of surfski and oc paddlers choose to head inland and up the mountains for some serious aerobic cross-training.

A local favorite in Vancouver are the Tuesday Night XC ski races at Cypress. These are the winter answer to the Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Tuesday Night paddle races. All for fun, some speed folk, many competitive recreational skiers and you can always expect a guest appearance by a few genetic freaks 😉

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

And here is more on skate technique;

Now remember, I look nothing like that! Slower, mo’ tired, mo’ drool, eyes rolled back in my head, fall now and then,…

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

For me this was my first xc ski race in over a year, as I did the first race in the 06-07 season, then sat out the rest of the season to favour my Moloka’i solo preparation. It was also my first skate skiing race in over 2 years, a painful awakening to be sure! Luckily I have dropped some weight so the hills weren’t as steep or as long as they were last year.

Being a training data aficionado, here is my HR curve, with altitude thrown in for effect!

Full results are here.

All that being said, xc ski racing is a whole world of pain I don’t have the pleasure of visiting in surfski racing. While xc ski races are technically 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 (my saving grace in xc ski and paddling) and tactical (change techniques, adapt to environment, competition, race course, etc.) components.

Bottom line is xc ski racing will prepare you for open ocean surfski racing in a way no other cross-training activity will. You’ll also learn that while you think you’ve worked hard on your surfski, its a walk in the park compared to a xc ski race…

Then again, facing 3 m ocean swells in 20 kn winds will make a nicely groomed xc ski trail seem like a walk in the park…

There you have it! if only I could remember where my surfski and paddle are…


Alan Carlsson
Engineered Athlete Services


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