Practices are the heart of the EMBK program, where skiers are grouped into ‘countries’ by skill level and work together to learn new techniques. Commitment to practice is an important part of the EMBK experience.
Our practices run from mid-November until the snow is gone.
Our season starts with dry land practices in November. Parents can use this time to discuss equipment, ask questions, and get ready for the season. Skiers, meanwhile, can start thinking about skiing and review some of the technical fundamentals that they can practice without snow.
Once on-snow practices begin (usually in the second week of December), skiers are assigned to a “country”, which has approximately 25 skiers and 3-4 coaches. Skiers stay with their country for the season (with some reassignments). The country groupings place skiers of a similar level and with similar goals together; age is a secondary factor, and some countries will have a broad range of ages. This “country” structure allows skiers to develop an ongoing, one-on-one relationship with their coach and to make friends within their country. A typical country head coach has years of skiing experience, has been trained at a two-day NENSA coaching clinic, and has previous coaching experience within our club. The head coach of the country has responsibility for running practice and is the primary contact on coaching-related matters for the skier and parent.
How are the EMBK Country teams organized?
The countries are grouped into regions which help determine the practice schedule:
- North America (Countries: USA, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec) is for novice skiers including all first-year EMBK skiers except those with substantial experience.
- Western Europe (Countries: Switzerland, Austria, Germany) is for recreational/developmental skiers and those who may want to compete/ski fast but can only commit to 1-2 practices per week.
- Scandinavia (Countries: Sweden, Finland, Norway) fosters racing/fast-skiing interests for skiers who commit to skiing 3-4 days per week, depending on age.
When are EMBK Practices?
Typical weekly on-snow practice schedule:
- Saturday 9:00-10:30am (everyone)
- Wednesday 6:30-7:30pm (everyone except Team USA)
- Thursday 6:30-7:30pm (Scandinavia only)
On-snow practices are held at the DCR’s Leo J Martin Ski Track. Dryland practices in November/December are at the Lincoln-Sudbury High School.
Practices focus on building a foundation in great technique.
On-snow practices begin with a full country warm-up, after which the country divides into smaller groups for 40-50 minutes of individualized instruction. Our Saturday practices conclude with 15-25 minutes of games designed by coaches and NENSA to develop specific technical skills. Initially, we don’t do much endurance training during practice, although later in the season we add in high-speed, short sprints, and we do engage in some strength and endurance work with our oldest and most experienced racers. We believe it is better to spend valuable practice time on technical instruction and reinforcing that instruction through games. The earlier a skier learns sound technical fundamentals, the better.
Cross-country skiing is a subtle sport that requires several years to master. The best time to develop skiing quickness and agility – grace on snow – is in pre-adolescent years. The better a skier’s technique when they are young, the more time they will have to focus on strength and endurance when they are teenagers. Some of our skiers will be aiming for top-ten performances in the New England Bill Koch Festival at the end of the year. They will do additional speed and endurance work, primarily outside of practice based on coaches’ advice. However, these skiers constitute a minority of our club members, and this training is not the focus of our practices.
How do I know if the practice is skate or classic technique?
We aim to announce the practice technique a few days in advance. Sometimes a sudden change in the weather or snow conditions will mean a change in technique. Please watch the announcements on the home page for up-to-date information. Be sure to check back in case of changes the night before practice. Please see information in the Waxing section for tips on how to best prepare for each technique.
How will I know if practice is cancelled?
EMBK rarely cancels practice as there is almost always some joy to be had and some technical progress to be made on-snow in all sorts of wintry conditions. That being said, we encourage you to use your judgment in deciding to drive to practice and to be sure your skier has proper clothing for the weather. In the unlikely event that practice is cancelled, an announcement would be posted on the website.