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Cross country skiing has been around for centuries and has evolved over the years into different categories of techniques. The most common is classic skiing, in which the skis move parallel to each other. A more intense and faster technique, however, is called skate skiing. This technique mimics the movement of ice skates, as the skier propels himself forward by pushing one ski diagonally outward, then the same with the other ski. In both cases, the skier’s heel is free from the binding, allowing movement of the heel to kick the skate forward. Skate skiing is an extremely vigorous physical activity and employs the use of all different types of muscle groups in the body.
In order to effectively enjoy skate skiing, a skier must first purchase the proper type of ski. Skate skis are typically shorter than classic skis and lack the characteristic fish scales of classic skis on their base. The fish scales are meant to keep the skier from sliding backward when shifting weight, but skate skis do not use scales or any other type of sticky wax to prevent backward movement. The movement must be controlled by the skier in order to keep forward momentum. The length of the ski is determined by the skier’s weight.
No matter what type of skiing you are enjoying, wax plays an important part in how well your skis will perform. Unlike classic cross country skis that use a kick wax – a sticker wax to aid in keeping the ski from sliding backward – and a glide wax that makes the ski slipperier so it can glide forward, the only wax used in skate skiing is a glide wax. It is applied to the entire length of the ski. There are several different types of glide wax that are used for different types of snow. Refer to your ski shop to choose the right one.
Skate skiing techniques usually revolve around a motion that involves kicking the skis outward diagonally from the body. This is accomplished by using the poles to propel the skier’s body forward while kicking the ski in the correct direction. This allows the skier to pick up sufficient speed for momentum. While there are several other techniques – particularly for climbing – the diagonal V stroke is the most common.
I can tell you first hand, this is an awesome sport! Fun and a great exercise experience! The equipment is paramount so have an expert measure you for your skis, poles and your boots. Equipment can be expensive, so rent first to make sure you really want to make the investment. Then when you are ready to purchase do your homework. This is equipment that you will potentially use for years to come. We had the experts at our local Nordic ski track help us with our equipment.