You might say that for Bill Koch, America's best Nordic skier-he won Olympic silver in '76 and the overall World Cup in '82-life's not exactly a beach. At 44, he's still passionate about skiing and notorious for finding ways to simulate it for off-season training. Koch admits to having skied wet grass, pine needles, just about "every surface I could find." His latest terrain of choice: sand.
After many unsuccessful attempts at beach skiing, Koch discovered "fast sand" a couple years ago in Hawaii. It's sand that's been recently wetted by the retreating tide, and it's ideal for classic kick-and-glide skiing. And where there's still a film of water, what he calls "the slick zone," it's fast enough for skate skiing.
Skeptical? In a limited-distribution video, he rips, along with three nationally ranked women who went straight from beach to competition and said it was the easiest transition to snow ever.
Beaches vary. Even wet sand can be "so slow it's ridiculous," Koch says. But he's sold on sand. "There's no reason to roller-ski. This is the best way to train for cross-country."