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How to cross-country ski

If you are just staring out in Nordic skiing, classic cross-country skiing is perfect place to start. As well as being an age old cross-country skiing style, the diagonal stride technique, which is like walking on skis, is really easy to learn if you just want to take it easy in the ski tracks. However, if you want to progress in classic style skiing, you'll need good technique in order to glide well. Here is our advice to get started on the right foot.

Diagonal stride technique

Diagonal stride, where you put one foot in front of the other, is similar to walking. Initially, just find your balance as you move forward and don't try to glide. To improve quickly you will need to focus on your glide. To do this you will need to break the movement down into 2 parts:

  • Propulsion phase that drives you forward.
  • Gliding phase that allows you to maintain your speed.

Classic cross-country skis that are adapted to your build are essential if you want to progress. You can read our article for more information on how to choose your classic cross-country skis.
--- Discover our classic cross-country skis : for MEN | for WOMEN

propulsion phase pushing the opposite pole in classic cross country skiing
Gliding phase in tracks in classic cross-country ski technique

Propulsion phase

For the propulsion phase the front of your foot needs to grip the snow. Transfer all of your weight onto the foot doing the pushing so the kick zone grips the snow.

The drive must be well defined in order to transfer the maximum amount of energy to the front of the ski. Push down on the driving foot for as long as possible. At the end of the movement, transfer your weight onto the opposite leg to start the gliding phase.

Skin skis are ideal if you are new to the sport as they have an efficient grip system. They allow for a better glide than fishscale skis. The more you improve the more you will start to concentrate on the glide rather than the grip. You’ll do this by changing the type of skins you use or by choosing waxable skis.
--- Discover our skin skis and fishcale skis : for MEN | for WOMEN

Gliding phase

During the gliding phase, try to keep your momentum from the propulsion phase for as long as possible. Make yourself as light as possible so the grip zone on your ski doesn't make contact with the snow.

Pole movement in the diagonal stride

Every time you drive forward you should push on the opposite pole.

Other classic cross-country skiing techniques

As well as diagonal stride, which is used for climbing, there are other techniques that are adapted to the relief of the groomed trails:

Double poling

Used a lot for long, flat distances, double poling consists of propelling yourself forward by pushing down on both of your poles at the same time. You should try to maintain your speed during the gliding phase.

Kick double pole

For tracks that are slightly inclined, the kick double pole technique in classic style skiing is a mix between the diagonal stride and the double poling techniques. Push down on one leg and then push with both poles at the same time.

Herring bone

The herring bone technique is used in fast, uphill sections and when the grip system of the skis is not enough. Climb with your skis in a V pattern, either walking or hopping to go faster.

Herring bone technique uphill classic cross-country skiing

In the herring bone technique, you may be tempted to glide as in skating. That's fine, but just be aware that this technique is not allowed in classic cross-country skiing competitions.

Check out our cross-country poles for MEN

Check out our cross-country poles for Women

Now you know the main techniques that will allow you to improve your classic cross-country skiing. One last piece of advice, remember to wax your skis to maximize your glide!