Alexander Grushin: “Cross Country Ski Federation of Russia took participation responsibly in the ROC pilot educational programme”

From 13 to 20 May, the coaches of all the Russian ski teams, from the junior to the main one, underwent advanced training courses at the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) in Sochi as part of the ROC pilot educational programme.

Course participants were addressed by famous Russian and foreign experts, including the deputy head of the ROC General Directorate for Participation in the Olympic Sporting Events, Alexander Grushin.

— The themes and format of the educational courses can be described as unique, — stated the Merited Cross Ski Coach of the USSR and Russia in his interview with the ROC Information Service. — Over a few days, we managed to cover a very large portion of practical and theoretical information concerning the provision of sports training for high-class skiers.

— Was there more emphasis on practice or theory?

— There was only one purely theoretical type of material — the lecture by the representative of the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism (SCOLIPE), Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences Sergey Vovk. It was about the paradoxes within the continuity of sports training, which is an interesting phenomenon in sports. All the other presentations were based on both scientific research and specific results achieved during training.

— Were there any memorable lectures by foreign experts?

— Very interesting material based on studies of the preparatory process in the teams of Norway and Sweden was presented by head of the Centre for High Performance Sport John Verlin from Switzerland. A lecture on power capabilities in skiing was delivered by Hans-Christer Holmberg from Sweden.

A hot discussion was caused by the report from German coach of the Russian national ski team Markus Kramer. His seminars began in the morning and ended late in the evening.

— What did the Russian speakers focus on?

— Yevgeny Myakinchenko’s lecture on how preparation plans are formed and carried out was very informative. Yevgeny is deputy head of the Analytical Department of the Sports Training Centre that deals with many teams, and not just in cyclic sports.

Olga Vinogradova, a representative of the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, introduced the audience to the physiological factors affecting the performance of cross-country skiers. That was a highly interesting report!

— What were your lectures about?

— About the modern approach to the periodisation of sports training and about the modelling of the training process. My presentation was based on the results of a long-term experiment. I’m not boasting, but no one else has this kind of digital analysis.

— Could you tell us more about it?

— I showed how the capacity and intensity of training are formed. I also touched upon middle-altitude training and much more. These are the conclusions of my fifteen-year work period with the women’s national cross-country skiing team of Russia when it was the world’s best.

— What can you say about the format of these courses, in which course participants were lecturers at the same time?

— Our coaches shared their experience with each other, and this is how it should be. We managed to conduct a series of practical classes with the use of roller skis on the grounds of the Yug Sport centre. The coaches explained the principles of operation of specific equipment and individual training devices which are rarely found at our sports bases.

— The advanced training courses coincided with the beginning of the preparation of ski groups for the next season. Was it a problem?

— President of the Cross Country Ski Federation of Russia Yelena Vyalbe took this matter very seriously. Temporary tutors were assigned to all the groups, and immediately after completion of the courses the head coaches went to the venue where the practice-training sessions were held.

I’d like to note that I haven’t seen in any other federation such a responsible approach to educational projects like the skiers have. Yelena Vyalbe personally attended all the lectures and participated in them not only as a speaker, but also as a specialist in testing students’ knowledge.

— What did this testing involve?

— The testing consisted of two steps. Course participants first mastered the material and then carried out special test assignments.

— The courses provided at RIOU as part of the ROC educational programme were a pilot project. What should be taken into consideration before another similar event?

— I think we shouldn’t forget our past. We have acquired certain expertise from which we can still benefit today. As for foreign experts, it is unlikely that they will want to immediately share their innovative ideas with us before putting them into practice in their own teams.

Many coaches expressed regret that some regional specialists had not been invited to Sochi and asked to consider the possibility of holding similar courses for them in the future, — concluded Alexander Grushin.

Based on the results of testing, all course participants were awarded RIOU advanced training certificates, as well as ROC certificates for participation in the Olympic educational programme.