Gordon Seaton - Director of Training, British Biathlon Academy
"I have had a long and highly-competitive career in biathlon and cross-country skiing for 28 years. Retiring from competition myself in 2006, I am currently the Director of Training at the British Biathlon Academy, which is the seed-bed of all future National athletes. The Biathlon Academy, based at RAF Kinloss in the north of Scotland, is fed by selected candidates from the British Biathlon Union's National Biathlon Development Squad.
I have 2 principal full-time coaching staff, on loan from the Army, which includes a triple Olympian (athlete in 1992 and 2002, and coach in 2006) and planning for 2010 Olympics Vancouver, and another ex-GB National Squad athlete, now in his 5th year as the full-time principal conditioning coach for the Biathlon Academy. I also have a pool of enormous knowledge and assistance available to me through the auspices of the support staff and experts in the Royal Air Force's Physical Education Flight at RAF Kinloss, and of course physiotherapy and medical back up that is second to none. All of the coaching staff at the British Biathlon Academy were always positive towards the idea of the SkiErg, but none of us realised the extent to which it would become an incredibly useful tool.
Previously, all our ski-specific strength training, and essentially all other upper body workouts based on the skis, were obviously weather, time and seasonal dependant, with some of these variables contributing further to the variability of the rolling resistance of an athlete on rollerskis. We would do a lot of work double poling on rollerskis, using many variations (eg. skiing up hills of varying gradients, or skiing while dragging a large car tyre, double-poling speedplay, endurance, etc...) Our upper-body testing was fairly limited and contravened a fundamental plank of testing - repeatability. We would do a strength endurance test to failure, and incorporate non-metered arm work into existing quadrapedal testing - eg lactate measurements on nordic track machine, rowing machine, etc...
The SkiErg has turned all of that upside down: independent of weather and time of day, highly accurate and repeatable, rewarding and accurate feedback, the squad members are queuing up to use the 2 machines we have. And an added bonus is the ability to continue hugely productive training during the rehab of athletes with lower-limb injuries. This last fact alone has an enormous positive impact on the morale of those nursing injuries.
We're sold. No reservations."