Learning to Kicksled
Basic kicksledding is easy to learn. Just stand with one foot on the runner, hold on to the handlebar, and kick with your free foot. For some, that may be as far as they want to go toward becoming a sparking master. Others, however, want a little more speed.
Kicksledding is like cross-country skiing. It’s easy to just get out there and walk around in the snow, but proper technique is necessary to achieve efficiency and speed. The “Kicksled Primer,” by the Kicksled (Ketkupolkka) Club of Helsinki, Finland gives a few pointers on how to spark like the pros.
“Imagine that you are an assaulting cheetah,” recommends the primer. Don’t lean on the hands or the kicking foot. The sparker’s weight should mostly be on the non-kicking foot.
•Bend the back and keep the torso horizontal.
•Lift the foot high in front, don’t swing your leg straight, lift the knee instead (be careful not to hit your nose with your knee).
•Your weight moves slightly to the arms, but not to the point of leaning.
•Bend support leg and use weight to add power to each kick. In a full effort kick, the heel of the support foot detaches from the runner.
•Kicking foot hits the ground with the forefoot, as if sprinting.
End phase - The end phase of the kick is especially important.
•Kicking ankle should extend completely.
•As the foot pushes back, the sparker should bend mostly at the pelvis and only moderately at the knee, this will spare the quadriceps of the
support leg and will keep the center of gravity level.
As the speed approaches maximum, the free pendulum movement is not enough for bringing the kicking foot to the front.
•Speed up the leg with the hip and thigh flexors. At this point, the kicking motion begins to feel more like a rotating, rather than a back and forth, motion. Always make maximal use of the glide.
The primer recommends swapping feet about once every 5 kicks. Swap more during high effort and less during low effort.
•Increase the frequency and shorten the kicks.
•Try to keep your knees straight to avoid up-down pumping motion.
•Try the “jump swap”: Jump immediately after kicking while bringing the kick foot to the front. Land the kick foot on the runner and bring the
support foot down to kick.
•If the hill is too steep, get off and run.
•Put both feet on the runners, flex the knees and use them as shock absorbers