PSIA-AASI Director of Education Dave Schuiling has spent several Independence Day weekends celebrating his freedom on a unicycle. Former PSIA-AASI Nordic Team Coach Scott McGee is also a fan of the one-wheel workout.
Here, in what has become an annual post, they expound on the many ways this activity hones their skills for snowsports.
Both say the balance, coordination, and concentration required to ride a “uni” are instrumental in keeping them focused and fit for the winter when they shift over to ride two skis.
• I like the challenge and the “I can do that” attitude. I got into it because plenty of my instructor friends in Telluride were unicycling for cross-training.
• My favorite part is that the cross-training aspect is relevant to all dynamic balancing sports. I also like the total focus required to ride. It’s a total body/synapse firing experience!
• The biggest challenge is to try and ride everywhere, including mountain bike trails, stairs, and skateparks. It’s also simply the best way to walk the dog.
• As for how: the wheel must stay aligned under the center of mass at all times to stay on. Therefore, direction/wheel/center must move in harmony to be successful.
• Movements must be accurate and very precise. Does this sound similar to dialed-in skiing/riding? Oh yeah!
• It’s great for balance, fitness, and specific strength.
• For telemark skiers, the most tele-specific application would be to learn to ride and pedal it backwards, which is something you can do while coasting on any bike with a freewheel (although not with coaster brakes).
• Also, much like skiing, you have to utilize your muscles for contraction, and not just extension. In skiing you don’t just push off, you also have to absorb terrain evenly and fluidly throughout each turn you make.
• I like the separation between the lower and upper body as they work together to maintain balance. Some of the unique challenges I’ve encountered while unicycling have been putting back in a contact lens, or sending a text.
For those who want to get into unicycling, McGee suggested building some parallel bars you can train between as a great way to learn pedaling and balance. He said, “Even if it’s just a rail, being able to hold on with one or both of your hands really helps you figure out the movements.”
- Peter Kray