Competitive cross country skiing has turned into a year-round sport. Athletes spend their summers preparing for a sport that demands a high level of aerobic fitness, balance and full-body strength.

“Ski champions are made in the summer,” Ice Age Nordic ski team assistant coach Dan Friss said.

The Ice Age Nordic team started its training in May with weight training and lots of running, biking, hiking with poles and rollerskiing.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports this past spring and early summer, Ice Age skiers were able to dedicate more time to training. They spent a lot of time rollerskiing.

“Being outside and 10-feet apart in small groups of 2-4 skiers allowed us to practice safely,” Ice Age coach Dale Fanney said.

Two weeks ago, Ice age held its summer training camp. They learned ski-specific strength, biked and rollerskied for five days. They concentrated a lot on technique.

“Like any other sport, skiers have to learn excellent technique to be successful,” Fanney said. “Great skiers are not necessarily the fastest runners because they are the longest gliders with the best balance and the most upper-body strength.”

Fanney and Ice Age is expecting about 10 girls and six boys to come out for the team this winter. The athletes come from Lodi, Waunakee and DeForest.

Led by Amelia Heider, Nora Lee and Anna Vanderhoef, the Ice Age girls team is expecting a big season in 2020-2021.

Junior Todd Niles is expected to lead the Ice Age boys team this season.

Ice Age and the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League hope to get the season underway in November.

“We have a lot more flexibility than other indoor winter sports,” Fanney said. “Large events like the American Birkebeiner, which attracts thousands of skiers from around the World, will be a challenge, but there are plans in the making to manage the event without concentrating large groups of skiers together.”

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