Oct. 15, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- There's no snow yet, but that doesn't mean the New Mexico ski team isn't hard at work preparing for when Old Man Winter decides to appear and grace the Sandias and other mountain regions in the West with the cold white stuff.
The Lobo Nordic and Alpine skiers have been taking advantage of the offseason and preseason, meeting for team training sessions several times a week since the start of the semester. Some members of the team have even been completing regular workouts on their own since May.
According to sixth-year head coach Fredrik Landstedt, this time of year is incredibly important in preparing for season and getting as many training hours in as possible.
"You have to train a lot," he said. "Especially Nordic skiers, who don't take many days off each year. Normally you take two weeks off in May and that is it. Otherwise they are training pretty much six days a week year-round on their own, sometimes training twice a day. When they show up in August (for team trainings) it's just to keep them training and structure what they've already been doing. It's a long offseason and by late September and early October they're getting tired of training. They want to get on snow."
UNM's Nordic team members typically meet five times during the week, most often completing endurance workouts and mixing in strength training at least once a week.
"We do a lot of roller skiing, both classic and skating," sophomore Anniken Bratlie said. "We run and we also try to do some biking. In the fall we try to get a lot of hiking in, taking four to five-hour long hikes."
Roller skiing is the best simulation for the Nordic skiers. Also known as ski skates, these dry-land training tools look like shortened cross-country skis with a wheel on each end. A soft boot is worn and clipped in at the toe. Two poles complete the ensemble and aid in the workout.
For roller skiing work outs the Nordic team invades the foothills of the Sandias. The Lobos have found a neighborhood with minimal traffic and have developed a route with few stop signs. The team's sessions can last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours and can consist of a cardio activity done at a nice, steady pace, or an interval workout in which the pace fluctuates from extremely fast to a slower recovery pace and is dictated by specific time increments. The once-a-week strength-training sessions are generally focused on building the skiers' core and upper body strength.
Bratlie, who has been skiing competitively since she was seven years old knows the grueling work outs are a must and are synonymous with succes.
"This is the most important part," she said. "You can train well during season, but it doesn't really matter unless you have a good preseason under your belt. If you have a lot of hours in and work a lot on technique, it's so much easier when you get on snow to just do what you're supposed to do."
Sophomore Sjur Prestsaeter, who earned All-America honors in his rookie season for placing 10th in the 20K classical at the NCAA Championships back in March, agrees with Bratlie and adds that the weather helps him to stay motivated throughout the dry land workouts.
"This is the time where we put in the most volume of training and we have the most time to improve because when the season starts there are races every weekend," Prestsaeter said. "I think we're pretty lucky this time of year. Compared to where I'm from in Norway, it's very dark now and we're just waiting for the snow and the weather is poor for dry land training."
While the Nordic team is building cardio endurance, the Lobo Alpine team is focusing on building strength and agility.
The Alpine squad also meets around five times a week for training sessions, spending a majority of its time in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach Joaquin Chavez.
First-year Alpine head coach Joe Downing has his 'Bos spend three days a week in the weight room, focusing on building overall strength.
"We're trying to work the systems of the body and be overall strong," Downing said. "You can't replicate skiing in the gym or off of snow, so it's just a matter of getting as strong as you can and getting every system as strong as it can be prior to getting on snow."
Lobo senior and three-time NCAA qualifier Mary Rachel Hostetter explains an Alpiner's start to the week: "On Mondays we've been focusing on pure strength. Cleans, rack squats, back squats, snatches and rack cleans and a lot of jumping with added weight."
Fellow senior and the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Skiing Association's 2012 Male Skier of the Year Armin Triendl continues: "Wednesdays we work on balance and do a lot more jumping and technique work."
Fridays are typically a harder work out, as the Lobos are presented with circuit training. Everything from sled and plate pushes to sprints across the football practice can be expected. Tuesdays and Thursdays are spent working on speed and agility. Downing has also added some swimming and diving sessions.
"I like preseason this year because of the variation that we get on Tuesdays and Thursdays," Triendl said. "We do sprints, we do track workouts and agility and swimming and diving. We do things that bring back the fun and we don't mind doing all the hard work."
And on the not-so-fun days, the veteran Lobos know it's all a part of the process and look to each other to make it through especially arduous sessions.
"These are our basics," Triendl said. "You don't take a test unprepared and that's how we need to prepare for skiing. It's also important in preventing injuries. We need to build our strength up so we don't get hurt during the season."
"We all have to do it together," Hostetter added. "If we didn't have each other it might be a little different. It's so much fun when we're all together, yelling at each other."
The entire ski team gets together at least once most weekends for a barbecue and a fun activity. Recently the Lobos went to a morning session of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta; other weekends have consisted of playing some sort of outdoor game or taking a hike as a group.
The end of brutal training sessions is in sight for the Lobo skiers.
"We'll have about ten more days of per-hour training and then we'll have what we call a, 'race week,' or time trials on dry land, which is similar to what we do in the winter when we have a competition on the weekend," Landstedt said. "And then after that, we're hoping to ski on the weekends. We're hoping for snow."
Both the Nordic and Alpine squads have exhibition events in Colorado scheduled for the beginning of November (weather permitting, of course). The Nordic team travels to West Yellowstone, Mont., Thanksgiving weekend to compete in an FIS/Super Tour event while the male members of Alpine team will be in Loveland, Colo., the same weekend for a NorAm event.
RMISA competitions begin Jan. 7-10 for Alpine with the Qualifier and University of Colorado/Spencer Nelson Memorial Invitational, while conference action for the Nordic team commences Jan. 12-13 with the CU/Spencer Nelson Invite.