The Olympic Winter Games are finally here!
In case you havenít made your Games plan yet because you were out enjoying the snow, here are the must-sees for every Nordic enthusiast.
You may want to set your PVR because of the time difference (British Columbia is 12 hours behind Sochi), though real fans surely wonít mind getting up in the middle of the night to cheer on their athletes in the four Nordic Olympic disciplines of biathlon, cross-country, Nordic combined and ski jumping.
Fans of skiing fast and shooting straight can look forward to 11 biathlon competitions. In addition to the traditional relay, mass start, pursuit, sprint and individual events for both men and women, the exciting mixed relay event will make its Olympic debut in Sochi on Feb. 19. Biathlon competitions start between 6 and 7 a.m. PST. Canadian biathletes competing in Sochi are Brendan Green, Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, Scott Perras, Nathan Smith, Rosanna Crawford, Megan Heinicke, Megan Imrie and Zina Kocher.
Ten competition days will keep cross-country fans busy. With regards to the Canadian medal count, the sprint races should be on your calendar (individual sprints Feb. 11, team sprints Feb. 19) as Alex Harvey just won a World Cup sprint competition in Poland in mid-January. Competition times call for your PVR, as events start between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. PST. But it will be worth watching Harvey, Ivan Babikov, Jesse Cockney, Devon Kershaw, Graeme Killick, Lenny Valjas, Amanda Ammar, Chandra Crawford, Daria Gaiazova, Perianne Jones, Emily Nishikawa, Brittany Webster and Heidi Widmer race for Canada!
A ski jumping competition followed by a cross-country race ó thatís Nordic Combined. Individual competitions will be held on Feb. 12 (Normal Hill-10 km) and Feb. 18 (Large Hill-10 km) and the thrilling team event will be on Feb. 20 (Large Hill-4 x 5 km). No Canadian athletes will compete in Nordic Combined, so cheer on the favourite countries like Germany, Austria and Norway. Events start between midnight and 4:30 a.m. PST.
The ski jumpers will strap on their fat skis for competition on six days of the Games, but the highlight for two young Canadians will come on Feb. 11th, when Taylor Henrich and Atsuko Tanaka will compete in the first-ever Olympic jumping competition for women. After finishing their final training camp at Whistler Olympic Park together with their male teammates Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes, Dusty Korek, Trevor Morrice and Matthew Rowley last week, they should be well prepared. Make sure your kids watch the events (conveniently starting between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. PST) because in March new ski jumping programs will be offered at Whistler Olympic Park. Visit www.whistlerolympicpark.com for more details about the new youth programming.
Double poling is a technique for travelling across flat terrain. Depending on your fitness level and speed of the snow, you can double pole on slight downhill terrain, flats, and slight uphills. It can be used on both classic and skate skis and is a great way to rest the legs.
When planting your poles, arms should be extended forward with the elbow joint flexed at about 50 degrees. The poles should be planted at the toe of boots. This allows you to lock the arms and shoulders and apply downward pressure on the poles.
Once the poles are loaded, begin rotating your trunk downwards from the waist by using your abdominal muscles to apply force to the snow. As your arms and shoulders rotate past your legs, you can begin extending your arms down and back to give a final push.
After this, recover the arms to the forward position and raise your trunk to repeat the motion. Make sure that when you begin the motion your hips are forward and legs stay flexed but relatively straight throughout the push. YouTube has some excellent examples for this.