The Advantage of Skate Skiing Techniques

February 20, 2008 by  
Filed under features

Skate skiing is a graceful, rhythmic snow skiing technique that uses diagonal skating strides in a style which is similar to ice-skating or roller-blading. Various forms of skate skiing have been around for centuries and the technique is believed to have originated with ancient Scandinavian hunters.

In basic skate skiing the skier steps out of the ski track with the dominant leg and pushes against the snow with the inner edge of the ski at an angle for propulsion, while the other ski is used to glide on. Different limb-movements are used for various terrains and for different speeds. The Nordic ski racing world adopted skate skiing in the 1980’s and it soon became popular among recreational cross-country skiers once it was discovered that skate skiing is one of the fastest ways to cover varied terrain on skis.

Bill Koch from Vermont, USA, surprised the Nordic racing world in 1982 by winning a World Cup race with a snow skiing style called the “marathon skate”. Having made use of a technique he had seen elsewhere, he is quick to set the record straight when he is credited with inventing skate skiing. The fact remains that he was the first to use skate skiing as a technique in World Cup racing and other racers were quick to follow his example. Initially, this new technique of snow skiing did not go down too well with World Cup officials, who felt that it was too different from the classic race form and tried to eliminate it. Due to its increasing popularity, however, skate skiing was soon accepted on the racing circuit.

It is generally agreed that skiers who have learned to ice skate or roller blade may find it easier to master skate skiing than classic skiing. Although some instructors feel that mastering classic skiing first is an advantage. Specialized skate skis are shorter and stiffer that skis used in the classical skiing technique and the poles are longer. Alternatively, “combi” skis can be used for both skate and classic skiing. Neither fish scale skis nor grip wax are suitable for use in skate skiing.

Skate skiing can be difficult under some circumstances, such as when snow has gathered on a groomed trail, and the trails in some ski areas are not wide enough to accommodate skate skiing. However, skate skiing enthusiasts agree that particularly in cross-country skiing, mastering skate skiing can mean the difference between slogging through the snow or gliding along with ease.