Training

Moving Forward

Skiing is very similar to running in its basic technique. When you run or walk, your left foot and right arm come forward while your right foot and left foot go backward. That's how people propel themselves. It's a movement so familiar that it seems almost foolish to describe it. One-two, one-two, one-two, and you move forward over the ground.

Cross-country skiing is about the same, but with some differences. As a skier you carry poles. Beginners often allow the poles in their hands to merely swing back and forth as they move down the trail, but if you use your poles to push yourself down the trail, you'll go much faster and with less energy expenditure. So a runner switching to skiing must learn how to use his poles for extra propulsion.

He also must learn how to pause at the end of each stride to allow the ski to slide forward in the tracks gathering extra ground for no more expenditure of energy. Veteran skiers usually have little trouble spotting a newcomer with a running background. Typically, a runner-turned-skier uses a stride with too much turn-over. It's pitter-patter-pitter-patter rather than push-glide, push-glide.

So runners who want to become cross-country skiers must learn to 1.) push off with their poles and 2.) pause at the end of each stride to let their ski carry them forward. Learn these two techniques, and you will become a better skier.

The proper position for a cross-country skier is knees slightly bent, leaning slightly forward, hands out in front, the same active position taken by a tennis player awaiting serve or a linebacker awaiting the snap of the ball. Position yourself like an athlete.

Nordic ski instructors often have beginners first move down the tracks without poles. This gives them only one technique to worry about. It teaches them also that if they commit all their weight to one ski at a time, they will be able to glide forward more efficiently. You weight one ski and push off, shifting weight almost immediately to the forward-gliding ski. Shifting weight is the key to the push-glide movement.

Once you master the push-glide, then pick up your poles. As you move down the trail, the poles swing in counterpoint to the skis. As the left ski reaches its most forward position, the right pole is moved to contact the snow opposite the left boot. The right hand holding the pole will be ahead of this center point, so the pole forms about a 30-degree angle with the snow. Push with the pole. The right ski slides forward as the right pole slides back. The left ski becomes the back ski, the left pole becoming the forward pole. One-two, one-two, one-two, but don’t forget to glide!

It's easier done than said. Practice these easy movements and you will become a cross-country skier.

Getting Started Ski Technique In Full Stride
Introduction Moving Forward Destinations
Conditioning Going Uphill Racing
Equipment Going downhill Nutrition
Where to Ski Turning Snowshoes
Two Techniques Stopping Downhill Skiing