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Cross-country skiing: how to choose skate skis? 

 

Classic cross-country skiing is a traditional and historical technique close to Scandinavians’ hearts, however it is skate skiing that attracts the most skiers. The fact that it’s accessible, with the use of simple equipment, and easy to master the basic skate skiing techniques make it a popular choice. Does this winter sport appeal to you? Here is some advice on how to choose the right skate skis
 

1. Choosing the size of your skate skis

Often the first thing you think about when buying skate skis is their length. Skate skis are 10 to 15cm shorter than classic skis.

A misconception is that people use their height to choose the size of their skis (as you do for downhill skiing). In both skate skiing and in classic skiing it’s mainly your weight that should determine the length of your skis.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to find the right length of skate skis to best serve your needs and shape. 

If you have to choose between two ski lengths, you should consider your technical skills and your goals. Shorter skis are more versatile, and easier to handle, whereas longer skis are suitable for more experienced skiers as they tend to give longer glide.

 

2. Skate ski flex and rigidity

Skate skis are more rigid and more responsive than classic skis. Torsional rigidity (preventing the ski from twisting) is a quality that is needed in skate skiing as it allows the skier to push off their edges. A stiff flex also promotes the pushing and gliding movement.

If you’re just starting out, we suggest using a more flexible ski, this enables the ski to lie flat on the snow and is less unforgiving if you lose your balance. A beginner’s ski will help you to improve your technique.
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For a more advanced skier, a more responsive and rigid ski can be used. Stiff skis perform better at high speeds and are great for improving your glide.
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In cross-country skate skiing, racing skis will not make a beginner go faster, however they can be used by an intermediate skier who is looking to progress quickly.

Before buying your skate skis you should choose a pair that are adapted to your technical ability and your goals.
 

3. Consider snow type to choose your skate skis

For premium and race skate skis, three types are available for each ski length to enable performance on all snow types:

  • Universal skis: for all snow types, thus the most versatile
  • Cold snow skis: with a stiff flex for cold, hard packed snow
  • Wet /slush snow skis: with a high camber which promotes gliding on wet snow.

If you practice skate skiing for competition, you could have two pairs, a universal pair and a pair for a specific snow type.
 

4. Which skate bindings to choose?

Bindings vary depending on the style of ski, skating or classic, as the gliding techniques are very different. Make sure you choose a binding for skate skiing and not for classic skiing.
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SNS, Prolink, NNN® or Turnamic®. There are several types of boot and binding combinations that we outline in this article.

5. How much do skate skis cost?

The price range for a pair of skate skis varies between 150€ for beginners and 600€ for racing skis.

This variation is due to technical differences in the materials and technologies used. For example, in an advanced level ski the core is much lighter than in other skis, making it more responsive.    

At the top end of the price range, the quality of the ski base is also better as it has a more complex structure, allowing for better glide.
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To summarize

To choose your cross-country skate skis you need to:

  1. Find the right length ski, taking into account your weight.
  2. Choose skis adapted to your technical ability and goals.
  3. Make sure you choose skate bindings and boots that are compatible with each other.


Cleaning and waxing skate skis regularly is really important to prevent them from getting dry and worn (white areas appear), this in turn will slow you down.

You now have all the information required to make an informed choice when buying skate skis. To complete your gear and be ready to go, all you need is a pair of bindings, compatible boots, and some poles!

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