Cross country skiers

By Marcin Wiesiolek

Cross country skiing is a complex sport that requires precise skills to achieve efficient techniques in classic or skate styles. Many people turn to instructional videos in their quest to learn or improve their skiing abilities. While videos offer convenience and accessibility, they come with significant pitfalls, particularly the lack of immediate feedback and generic instructions that fail to address individual needs.

One of the fundamental issues with learning from videos is the absence of real-time feedback. Feedback is crucial in sports learning as it helps persons make immediate adjustments and corrections to their skills for specific techniques. When I write skills, I mean separate skills that when put together make up specific techniques for skiing, such as diagonal stride or double pole kick or V2 or V1. Without an instructor present to assess their performance, skiers relying solely on videos cannot accurately gauge whether they are executing the individual skills or techniques correctly. This lack of feedback hinders their ability to understand the cause and effect relationship between body position, movements, and timing for optimal propulsion, glide, turning and other maneuvers while cross-country skiing.

Moreover, videos provide broad instructions that do not cater to the specific needs of each individual. Learning styles and physical or intellectual capabilities vary from person to person. What works for one skier may not be effective for another. The generic nature of instructional videos fails to address the nuanced requirements of individuals seeking to learn or refine their skills. This lack of tailored instruction can impede progress and hinder the development of technically accurate skiing techniques.

While videos can demonstrate various skills or techniques in cross country skiing, recreating them accurately can be challenging without hands-on guidance. Small adjustments and nuances in skills needed to execute a technique accurately can significantly impact performance and efficiency, which may not be fully understood or replicated solely through video instruction. Additionally, cross country skiing is influenced by various factors like snow conditions, terrain, and weather. Videos cannot provide the practical experience of adjusting technique to varying snow conditions, or understanding how environmental factors affect skiing.

A Better Way to Use Videos

While videos augmented with personalized coaching can be helpful, relying solely on videos can lead skiers down a pathway that may not be conducive to accurate skill development. What would be more meaningful for a person wanting to hone their skills without the ability to hire a ski instructor would be videos of the skier's own performance that could be submitted to a competent instructor for feedback. However, even this approach has limitations. Feedback provided through videos lacks the efficiency and immediacy of real-time guidance. Learning a singular skill often requires multiple progressions, each necessitating immediate feedback and the creation of understanding.

The most effective way to utilize videos for skill improvement is when the instructor records the skier during a hands-on teaching session, particularly after introducing a new skill. This allows the skier to watch the recording immediately after practicing the new skill, enabling them to compare their perception of their performance with the actual execution.

To maximize the effectiveness of learning cross country skiing, a holistic approach that combines instructional videos with hands-on guidance is essential. Seeking personalized instruction from competent instructors who can provide real-time feedback and tailor the training progression to the individual's needs is invaluable. This ensures that skiers receive accurate, timely, and specific feedback, promoting optimal skill development and efficient progression towards their goals.

In conclusion, while instructional videos can serve as a starting point, they cannot replace the importance of immediate feedback and personalized instruction. Skiers should prioritize seeking opportunities for direct guidance and feedback from knowledgeable and credentialed instructors to refine their technique and enhance their cross country skiing abilities.


About the author:

Marcin (Martin) WiesiolekMarcin (Martin) Wiesiolek is an experienced ski instructor specializing in cross country, Alpine, and adaptive skiing. He also holds a position on the Educational Staff of the Professional Ski Instructors of America, Rocky Mountain Division. In addition, Marcin serves as the head coach for the Colorado Mesa University Cross Country Skiing and resides in Grand Junction, Colorado.