If You can Measure it, You can Improve it: Testing Week

November 12, 2012

We wrapped up a busy week at Gould, as fall sport athletes joined the Competition Program crew in Nordic Training.  So of course first thing, we threw everyone into competition!

Things started off last Saturday with Maine Winter Sports Center’s Lobster Roll on North Haven Island, where we joined Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, and a handful of UMaine ski teams to battle.  All teams take the 9:30 Ferry out of Rockport to North Haven, and have about 45 minutes to warm up before individual start racing 15km around the perimeter of the island.  Our skiers held up pretty well to the older competition!  It was great to see all of our friends again!

Lobster Roll Results at RaceSplitter

On Tuesday we ran a new Double Pole test – 2km of lightly rolling terrain and new pavement with zero net elevation gain.  We intended to measure DP efficiency and ability to produce speed on terrain that would be mostly DP during a race..  We departed (for now) from a steep uphill DP test, which we think measures some combination of upper body VO2 max and anaerobic strength – certainly a number that we can compare skiers on – but not a number that we’re convinced we should be focusing on as a measure of skiing ability or potential.

Here are the results (click to enlarge):

 We actually ran the test twice that day… the second was was a surprise!  Everyone’s second attempt was within 5 seconds or so of their first attempt, except for Andrew who improved 16 seconds.  Guess he learned a little more about what was really in the tank!

On Wednesday we had a fun relay day with the Mountain Bike Team, and we burned the pile of brush from all the trail work this summer:

 

On Thursday we ran some interesting flying start 100m tests using skate, skate no-poles, double-pole only, and an foot.  In addition to being a great (and measurable) speed workout, we got some really interesting data (click to enlarge).

Each skier got two tries to get the fastest time they could.  The “total time” column doesn’t really mean anything – it’s just there to make a sort-of-sensible way to sort the data.

A few things to note:

1) Some skiers made improvements on their second attempt at any given discipline – to us, that means the skier is “learning by doing” for the speed.

2) Some skiers had disimprovements on their second attempts.  It could be chalked up to a missed pole plant, a trip, or something of the sort.  But if it becomes a theme, we may be uncovering more of a fitness issue than a technique conundrum.

3) Caleb, Trent, Rose, and Leela all had a NP time that was faster than one of their skate times.  No pole skating can be a very fast technique – we’ve seen “speed skating” without poles in fast finishing lanes on the World Cup before.  But for this particular stretch of road – I’d expect poles to be giving some additional power.  So some technique work is needed for better utilization of the upper body for these skiers!

4) Everyone’s DP times were their slowest.  Ashton and Caleb came the closest – just based on observation, they probably have the best DP technique.  More importantly, why were Andrew and Caleb comparable in the 2km DP test, yet Caleb is squarely ahead of Andrew  in the 100m test?  Probably because Andrew has the fitness to keep up in the 2km test, whereas Caleb has a size advantage and probably a power advantage over Andrew. which shows up in the 100m test but the advantage is lost in the 2km test, where Andrew’s fitness makes up for it.  I’m guessing 3000m meter running test would be corroborating evidence for that… but Caleb couldn’t come to practice on Saturday :).

5) 100m flying start essentially testing foot speed, although differences (as with all testing) can easily be chalked up to developmental stages in each athlete.  An interesting measure anyway :).

Hopefully, these numbers have identified some strengths and weaknesses in each skier so that coaches can create some sessions that specifically address areas where each skier can improve.

On Saturday we ran a 3000m test at Telstar High School (where there is a very nice track!).  We had a lot of people going in different directions this weekend so we only got to test three skiers – but kudos to them for getting in the work while no one was watching! (click to enlarge):

 

On Sunday we wrapped up with a combo OD – roll over to Sunday River, and hike up and over the summits.  Shoes waiting at the transition zone:

All these numbers!!!  We collect them and analyze them and make adjustments – but at the end of the day, business is business and we hit the roads (and trails) to put in the work.  Coming up we have a solid week of training (and exams – yikes!) before we split for Thanksgiving Break.  Then… off to Canada for snow!

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