Julia Kern is a member of the U.S. Cross
Country Ski Team, a 2022 Olympian and U.S. National Champion. Julia’s 2023-24 race season has just begun, but countless
hours were devoted to prep work before even setting ski to World Cup race
How important is
offseason training? Why does it matter in cross country skiing?
Off season training is quite important for
cross country skiing because the sport requires a lot of endurance, strength,
power, technique, and repetition to be ready for race season. Our race season
spans for 4.5 months, with 2-3 races every weekend for the entire winter; that
is up to 34 races in a season. To consistently perform at the top level for the
entire season, the body must build a strong foundational base which takes time
and a lot of training hours. Building fitness also doesn’t happen in a short
period of time, it demands larger loads to stress the body paired with periods
of recovery for the body to absorb and adapt.
What are the different
methods you use to mimic your skiing movements in the off season?
Since cross country demands a wide range of
skills, from endurance to speed, I really enjoy cross training in a variety of
ways! Of course, roller skiing is the most popular form, which mimics skiing
but is done on roads with skis that what wheels on them (think like
rollerblading but with poles). In addition, I love to run in the mountains with
poles or do my new favorite activity, sand skiing on the beach. I feel happiest
in the mountains or at the ocean, so in the summer sometimes I like to take my
skis to the ocean and practice good resistance training by skiing on the wet
sand on the ocean shore.
Why did you fall in love
with cross country skiing? What about it keeps you interested?
I fell in love with cross country skiing
because of the community and culture around it. People in this community love
to spend time exercising in the outdoors, no matter the temperature or weather.
With skis on your feet, you can travel endless kilometers through the forest,
across frozen lakes, plateaus and beyond. Now the sport is something I can do
lifelong with friends and family, and racing competitively continues to bring
me all over the world to see new places, meet new people, and to try and the best
skier I can possibly be. It pushes me to dream big, set goals, and work hard
with the amazing reward of the lifestyle.
What is the first part
of the World Cup season like? Is it different from other times in the season?
The first part of
the World Cup season always starts in Scandinavia, very far north. We have had
really cold temperatures and not much daylight, but luckily there has been a
lot of natural snow to ski on. I often work my way into the season, racing my
way into shape, so I often see the first period as a building period for the
remainder of the season. After Christmas break, we head central Europe, then
North America, and then back to Scandinavia again, traveling in blocks. The
more south we go, of course the more sun we see.
What are you working
toward this season?
I am working towards my overall sprint
ranking on World Cup, trying to be one of the top sprinters in the world, which
means constantly racing well in the sprints all season long. In addition, I am
really looking forward to being in peak for our home World Cup in Minneapolis,
USA, the first World Cup in USA in over 23 years! Outside of results, I hope to
have a blast on the road, see new places, and capture some cool shots with my