Julia Kern Embarks on 2023-24 World Cup Season

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 start.

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 camera.

What Vuarnet gear worked well for this project?