Ken Roberts

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Ken Roberts
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Ken Roberts

Post by Ken Roberts » Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:00 pm

I started skiing as an adult, first downhill, then mostly backcountry / ski mountaineering. Sharon started together with me. Since we live in New Jersey, we learned mostly in New York and Vermont. The we found out there was interesting backcountry and downhill skiing elsewhere, and skiing became the major focus of our vacation trips.

Somewhere around 2000, Sharon decided to try cross-country skiing. The new-style Salomon boots looked interesting in a hi-tech sorta way, so I tried it too. Soon I read Bill McKibben's book about racing, and he said that some of the courses have steep hills. I like the challenge of hills from backcountry, so even though I've never been much of a racer, combining hills and skiing would be a kind of racing that could engage me.

I chose Classic because people said it was more technical, and did some races for a couple of years -- and found out there were other people who kept showing up at races who were lots better at combining steep hills and skiing than me. So now I seem to race zero or two times a year.

My PhD research was on the intelligent control of humanoid robots, so I got thinking about how to apply that perspective to understanding XC ski technique. To my surprise, I couldn't find anything in English that took that fundamental approach to the biomechanics, so I wrote down some of my ideas at http://www.roberts-1.com/xcski

Then a lesson on a vacation trip showed me that skating dould be kinda magical, so I shifted my focus to that. The more I worked on learning it, the more complicated the skating techniques seemed to be. I've been thru several stages of thinking I understood skating, then discovering another more important dimension of the techniques. A couple of years ago I got into inline-skating, so that got fed into the learning and the fun. (My writing of ideas about skating techniques on that website has not kept up with my ongoing learning.)

Sharon discovered that one of the benefits of living in New Jersey was that we could get off from work on Friday afternoon, get on a plane at Newark Liberty airport, wake up the next morning in Geneva and be skiing in the Alps or Jura on Saturday afternoon. So our vacation trips have gotten skewed to France, and sometimes drive to try skiing in other Euro countries -- XC, backcountry / rando, sometimes a day or two of lift-served downhill.

We still do lots of skiing around home when there's snow (in city parks, and occasionally on the street), and we often drive north to the Hudson valley in New York, and we've got a website for skiing around there: http://www.roberts-1.com/hvski/xc

Ken

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Eilert Pilarm
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XC europe

Post by Eilert Pilarm » Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:26 pm

If you have the liberty to wing on over to Europe occasionally or often (jealous) then I can heartily recommend this locale--

http://www.ferienregion.at/en/cross-country-skiing.html

The site now boasts 275!!km of groomed trails....In 1993 when I skied there the valley boasted almost 100km. I was a new classic skier then and I have such fond memories of skiing there. Nightlife in Kitzbühel or St. Johann and the gasthofs along the xc ski trails if you wanted a break or just a warm up.

I MUST get back here soon!

Ken Roberts
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St Johann Tirol Austria

Post by Ken Roberts » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:34 pm

Thanks for the suggestion -- I've never been there. I hope I'll find an excuse this winter. I've heard there's a biathlon center there. I've found that European ski centers with biathlon often have more fun trail networks.

Ken

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Re: St Johann Tirol Austria

Post by Eilert Pilarm » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:08 pm

Ken Roberts wrote:Thanks for the suggestion -- I've never been there. I hope I'll find an excuse this winter. I've heard there's a biathlon center there. I've found that European ski centers with biathlon often have more fun trail networks.

Ken
I wouldn't be at all surprised if they do have a Biathlon center.
Just get a load of that trail system map on their website. incredible.

and the Austrians were always nice as nice can be.

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Re: Ken Roberts

Post by zzzz » Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:08 pm


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Montana
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Re: Ken Roberts

Post by Montana » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:29 am

My sympathy to Ken's wife and family. I remember his many posts at rec.skiing.nordic as well.
40th consecutive Birkie in 2020!
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Re: Ken Roberts

Post by JeffOYB » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:55 am

Sorry to hear.

Ken was one of the early and only ppl to push XC innovations online, even before the WWW when it was just list-serve. He was also rare and on-topic for the web because he wd open-mindedly bring up and discuss outside the box ideas, like any good nerd.

(Science, creativity and innovation often seem to be anathema in this sport -- is there a sport that pushes less? Rankings in sport innovation and PR might be interesting to see.)

I've long appreciated and used Ken's idea that the upswing of poling arms enhances kick.

Thanks, Ken! RIP...
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Re: Ken Roberts

Post by Loran » Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:33 am

That's sad and unexpected news.

Before this forum was open, we had interesting discussions on the newsgroup rec.skiing.nordic.

Then he came here in France with his wife for skiing and we manage to meet twice on the tracks.
That was nice days.

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Re: Ken Roberts

Post by MN Hoser » Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:29 pm

Ken and I "argued" a bit at rec.skiing.nordic. I didn't agree with some of his views on technique, but it was all about skiing and nothing personal. How can it be personal. He certainly had energy and loved skiing, particularly the technique aspect of the sport. BTW, I was "Bjorn A. Payne Diaz" over there. Well Ken, I hope you have flawless technique in skier paradise.

Jay

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