Skate skiing technique
This is a dynamic cross-country skiing style requiring fairly sophisticated technique, good balance, and good physical conditioning that can get skiers moving at up to 30kmh (19mph). Skating has a ski that is entirely different from Classic style skis. When you want to give it a try, the ideal spot is on a groomed trail, which typically offers the two -ane track Classic skiers use and right next to it will be a flat, firm trail for Skaters. Not all parks or public spaces allow cross-country skiing, so if it’s not a designated trail, be sure you’re actually allowed to be there.
Getting a feel
Take your time to just stand on your skis, maybe making a few small movements, transferring your weight, so you get used to the basic sensation of these thin skis on hard snow. You’ll be digging in with the inner edges of the skis, so get a feel for that, too, before you even move.
On the trail
The starting position is with the skis in a comfortable V position, with the heels close together but not overlapping.
The basic motion is somewhat similar to inline skating or ice skating. You push off on the inner edge of one ski at a time, outward and rearward, while you keep the other ski pointed forward to glide.
As you finish your push off, transfer your weight to the glide ski, and pull the push off ski back in so it will be in position to be the next glide ski as you alternate legs for the push off and glide. The further apart your skis are, the more resistance you’ll have under your push off ski.
Practice this motion while staying in one place, not yet actually skating, just to get a feel for the weight transfer and ski position.
On the move
You’re ready to really Skate ski now. You know the very basics and you have the ideal training surface. Start with your skis in a V position, put more weight on one leg and push off with the inner edge of the other ski. On a good pair of waxed skis you’ll start moving immediately! Practice bringing the push off ski right back towards the other leg right when the push is completed. You’ll quickly develop a smooth rhythm.
At first don’t use poles. Let your legs do the work. They’re bent slightly and the upper body is relaxed without much movement. When you start to use poles, you’ll use a proven double-poling method, known as the 2:1 technique, where the arms are used with every other skating stride, planted into the snow each time at the level of the same leading ski.
Cross-country poles are longer than Alpine poles due to the extended power push off they need to perform. Skate poles are longer than Classic. The rule of thumb here is they should be 90% of your height. As you start to refine your technique, be on the lookout for these common errors:
- Don’t overcommit your weight to either leg, or too far forward, at any point. Falling forward is as common as falling backward for beginners.
- A good glide is where you get speed and smoothness from. Don’t try to generate all your speed with a frenetic kick phase. Kicking and gliding are both important.
- When you’re on a groomed trail, there are rules in place, most likely those of the FIS. Learn the rules, and, just as importantly, do your best to let everyone ski safely and enjoy themselves at any speed.
- Ski types are definitely not interchangeable. Skating on Classic skis will be zero fun. The base is entirely different and will not work with the Skate technique.