Going for Speed with Skate-Skiing

Skate-skiing offers adventure seeking snow sport enthusiasts something different to try their hand at on groomed trails and it is fast gaining in popularity at a number of North American ski resorts. Although it is possible to skate-ski on cross country skis, it’s not ideal and skiers won’t get the true effect of the sport. Likewise, skate-skis are not suitable for cross country skiing, so while skate skiing has the advantage of speed, it does restrict skiers to groomed trails, which some classic skiers may not enjoy. Nevertheless, it is worth trying for the thrill of it.

The skier’s height and weight will both be factors in choosing the correct length of skate-skis, which are generally around 10cm shorter than cross-country skis. They need to be shorter and lighter as the skate-skier must lift them up off the snow for each forward stride, but they do need to be long enough to deliver stability and glide. Skate-skis are generally between 41mm and 45mm wide, as the narrower the ski, the higher the speed. Adding to the speed is the fact that skate-skis generally fit into established tracks and skiers can use these to gather momentum downhill.

On most skis the waist of the ski is the narrowest part, but skating skis are often wider at the waist to facilitate the skating motion. The camber, or arch, of skate-skis is less pronounced than that of touring skis allowing skate-skiers to push off the skis’ edges effectively. Also, skate-skis are less flexible than touring skis. Because of the twisting action of the skate-skiing technique, boots used in this sport offer more ankle support and have stiffer soles.

Poles used in skate-skiing should be sturdy and around 90 percent of the skate-skiers height, or from the ground up to between the chin and lips, which is different from touring poles which reach to the armpits. This allows the skate-skier to use major muscle groups in upper body and abdomen to propel forward.

As there are marked differences between classic forms of snow skiing and skate-skiing, skiers who would like to try this exciting sport are advised to have some professional tuition before hitting the slopes.