The number of active cross-country skiers in Germany is climbing rapidly, despite climate change. In 2014, 520,000 people stated they regularly head to the loipe. According to Statista, this number has already grown to 680,000 in 2018. And then there are also the 6.35 million Germans who practice the joint-friendly, full-body workout sport on occasion.
Many will have watched the cross-country skiing TV broadcasts on winter sports weekends, with Peter Schlickenrieder as the station expert. The former cross-country skiing star has been the manager of the German national team since April, and here on ISPO.com gives beginners and hobby skiers some training tips.
“For absolute beginners, I recommend getting introduced in the classical technique – i.e. on the cross-country ski course (loipe) with parallel ski control. People who love to skate should take at least one day with a ski instructor and learn the technique properly. This will save you aches and pains, and overload,” says Schlickenrieder in an interview with ISPO.com.
No matter the technique, cross-country skiing looks so simple - but it isn’t that easy on the smooth ground. However, Peter Schlickenrieder does reveal a couple of simple tricks for preparing for your first adventure on the loipe.
“One ingenious introduction sport is Nordic walking, fast walking with poles (editor’s note: 0.75 x height in centimeters). The cross-coordination is 1:1 like in cross-country skiing, so you can groove into the technique,” the expert reveals. For those who like it sportier, you can also acquaint yourself with cross-country skiing techniques through trail running on the mountain or inline skating with poles.
It doesn’t compare with jogging. Cross-country skiing is primarily about the right balance, the gliding on one leg. Schlickenrieder has one funny training tip for this: “Brushing your teeth on one leg is good practice for your sense of balance.”
Those who’ve successfully gotten started in this healthy winter sport and have more athletic ambitions can then follow top cross-country skiers’ example.
Schlickenrieder: “Fundamentally, you can train in the same distribution as a competitive athlete. 80 percent is basic training, i.e. running as many kilometers as possible in a relaxed manner. So first you create a base in the aerobic area, then the intensive training comes in the anaerobic area, for example with fast interval runs. This should account for no more than ten to fifteen percent of training. Then the remaining five percent is the maximum effort during competition.”
Those who want professional guidance in their training and tailor-made plans can, for example, fall back on the AusdauerNetzwerk by cross-country skier Thomas Freimuth. But there are also many new tools and apps that allow you to manage and control your workouts yourself or online with the help of a personal trainer.
According to Schlickenrieder, the most important thing – whether for beginners or advanced skiers – remains the fun of cross-country skiing: “It’s fantastic being able to glide endlessly without having to do a lap twice. There are so many great possibilities in Germany, if the snow plays along: Whether the valley loipe in Bayerischzell, the Bayerwald loipe on the Arber, the Rennsteig in Thuringia, the Ore Mountains loipe, or the loipe from Inzell to Reit im Winkl.”
Outside of Germany, the national team coach recommends places like the Puster Valley/Toblach in Italy or the enormous network of loipes around the Norwegian Olympic city of Lillehammer, where you can run from hut to hut on cross-country skis all day long. But you should do some serious training first…