Skate Skiing Sans Poles
To improve your skate skiing, try skiing without poles. This exercise improves balance and improving balance makes it easier to improve your technique.
On the flats, try gliding as long as you can by balancing on one ski before transferring your weight over to the other ski. The key is to fully commit your body weight to the new gliding ski. This means getting your hips up and torso over the ski. Many skiers have trouble with this exercise, so I often get skiers to swing their hands to help with the movement. moving your arms side to side helps to make sure your hips come up onto your gliding ski. Having your weight (hips and torso) over the gliding ski flattens the ski. A flat ski improves your glide and makes it easier to balance!
Think twice before you hit the slopes or trails without a dynamic warm-up. The average skier might do a few quick stretches, rather than sport-specific ones. Try focusing on each and every muscle group, moving from feet all the way up through the body.
Here’s a routine to try!
25 Repetitions – Highly Recommended
Heel Raises-Mini Squats leading to Full Squats-Side Stepping-High Marching-Hip Flexion (with leg circling motions)-Side to Side Reaches in Various Plains (mid-line, low to high, and high to low)- Forward Trunk Flexion (knees bent at all times)-Squat and Reach (with both arms)- Shoulder Circles (anterior and posterior with thumbs up)-Supine Pelvic Tilts (lie on back)-Supine Ab Crunches (with diagonal reach across)-Back Extensions (lie on stomach with minimal range)-Mini Pushups (on knees)-Shoulder Shrugs/Rolls (both directions)
These are the basic, yet most functional, ways to warm up before getting on the slopes or trail.
Courtesy of Todd Ackerman, PT, Bay Tennis and Fitness
XC Ski Waxing
Wax your skis early and often- you can’t wax a ski too much! Before you hit the slopes or trail, scrape off summer storage wax and put on the glide wax. For waxable nordic skis, be sure to melt a binder wax on the kick zone before applying your daily kick wax.
XC Ski Technique
Wondering how to be more efficient? Here are a few tips to transition from XC “shuffle mode” to “weight shifting” on a single moving ski.
- Arms: Keep ’em relaxed! Swing freely up to shoulder height with elbows bent and tucked in.
- Legs: Forget about kicking back with that outstretched leg! Instead, focus on gliding forward as you completely shift your weight onto 1 ski. And keep those ankles loose with your weight on the balls of your feet.
- Find a long, slightly uphill grade-it’s the ideal terrain to practice unweighting. Start by relaxing and “running” up it. Without poles. Then try putting all of it together on the flats.
Need a sure-fire way to improve your efficiency in Classic XC? Master the forgotten art of double poling! Think of it as having 3 ski gears- diagonal stride, double pole with kick, and double pole. Use them according to the terrain-when it’s slightly downhill and you can’t kick-n-glide fast enough, transition into the double pole. When the terrain starts to rise and you lose momentum, switch to the double pole with kick for more power.
Kick n Glide
Looking for a surefire way to better your classic XC form? Rethink your mental image of “kick” from backward to forward! Initiate the kick by driving your back leg forward like you’re kicking a soccer ball. Then use a quick ‘hop’ to fully weight this gliding ski. Be sure to have a distinct pause in your glide before kicking forward with the back ski to continue the rhythm of a forward kick and glide!
Paying more attention to your poles can make a big difference in your technique! Here are a few tips for classic skiers:
- Tall is in! Poles are being sized taller than in the past at just about shoulder height (when your boots/skis are on). Proper pole length has a huge effect on timing.
- “V” your straps! Hold the pole properly with 3 easy steps: push your hand through the strap and up towards the sky. With the strap around your wrist, make a “V” with your thumb and fingers and bring the “V” down to rest over the strap.
- Hold vs. Grip! There should be 3/4″-1″ of strap showing between the “V” and your pole. This measurement is key as it will allow you to hold your pole ever-so-lightly on the backward/forward swing and not actually grip it until you plant your pole. And remember, loose arms!