of the discussion about the “new” vs. the “old” skate has focused on
whether to line up with the gliding ski or with the overall direction
of travel. The truth of the matter is that effective and efficient
skiers do a bit of both. So what are contemporary skaters doing, why
are they doing it, and why should you care?
diagonal stride technique produces the longest stride possible for the
least amount of effort. The trick is to blend the body motions needed
to pole, pressure the ski for grip and then extend onto the next ski
into a smooth and continuos motion that keeps both your core or center
of mass and your ski moving forward without interruption. Although a
slight side-to-side shift of your center of mass helps with grip, your
skis and your center of mass travel on almost identical paths.
skate technique pursues the same goal—creating the longest skate
“stride” possible for the least amount of effort—but within a different
set of parameters. The lack of grip wax on the skis forces the skater
to angle each ski to the overall direction of travel and to tip the ski
on edge for “grip”. This creates a new challenge of balancing on and
then moving off of skis that are angled away from the overall direction
to these new challenges have evolved continuously from the early 1980’s
when large numbers of skiers began to use skis waxed only for glide for
both racing and recreation. The “old” skate that is the assumed
protagonist to the “new” skate was never a fixed technique, and the
“new” skate certainly is not. Ski technique is simply the response of
one or of a group of skiers to a need. “The new skate” is simply a
collection of the most efficient and effective solutions that
contemporary skaters have developed for moving over the snow with no
grip wax on their skis. New solutions can and will be found, and
skating will continue to evolve.
a summary of the solutions currently in use:
your heel on the ski throughout your leg extension during push-off.
This keeps your push-off perpendicular to the ski, which prevents the
ski from slipping forward, sideways, or back as you push against it to
move onto your next ski. Experiment with lifting your heel at different
times to experience the difference between pushing off your whole foot
and just pushing off your toes.
falling from ski to ski – you cannot push-off something that you are no
longer supported by.
into the power of your core muscles by minimizing any twisting or
rotation of the hips during the actual push-off, which breaks the
kinetic chain and sucks up some push-off power into movement that does
not carry you forward. Imagine an arrow sticking straight our of your
belly button and keep the tip of the arrow pointing in the same
direction from the time you begin whatever pre-load is appropriate
until you complete your leg and foot extension. Note that this happens
quietly, quickly and cleanly from one ski to the next before the ski
slows very much. Think of sneaking onto your next ski - jumping or
moving too aggressively onto the next ski diverts some of your push-off
effort into up and down motion. Skating like a kangaroo can also steal
glide when you create pressure spots that create drag upon landing.
on two skis headed in different directions is no good. Pop from ski to
ski and be part of the famous Russian skiing family, the Oneskis. Avoid
association with the less successful Twoskis.
onto a flexed ankle when you skate onto each ski to maintain momentum
and speed. Moving onto a straight shin blocks your movement onto the
next ski. Skate with “sharp knees”.
intense efforts are the best way maintain speed and momentum – think of
a spinning flywheel. To keep it spinning, a series of quick slaps work
better that pushing all the time. Relax in between.
IT LOOKS LIKE:
A. Heel stays on the ski as the
leg is extended. The heel lifts off the ski only after the
leg has been fully extended and the ankle opens, to complete the
push-off through the ball of the foot. The ski continues to move
forward after push-off as it lifts off the snow as shown in photos D
B. The next lead ski is set in
motion before moving onto it. As the leg swings in beneath
the body, the pelvis, thigh, and knee move toward the ski tip, setting
the ski in motion. As weight is transferred to the new lead ski, it is
almost up to speed, skimming the snow like a hovercraft.
C. Skier moves onto a flexed
ankle. The knee and waist are also flexed and the spine is
parallel to the shin of the front leg. The front knee leads the foot as
weight is transferred to the new lead ski, which glides smoothly
forward. Complete extension of the rear leg and foot signals the end of
the push-off and weight transfer to the next ski.
D. The ski swings out to the side
after push-off and then back in. Skier relaxes the leg
after push-off; gravity starts it back toward the body.
E. Pelvis is driven quickly up
and over the skating foot. After weight transfer is
competed, the standing leg is extended, bringing the hips and torso
forward as the knee and waist open. Shoulders stay over or in front of
the foot. The hips move up and forward to drive the pole and torso
recovery. Poles recovery
takes an equal or less amount of time that pole use.
F. The skier’s core continues
forward during pole recovery. This divergence of the core
and the gliding ski is barely noticeable at speed when the ski tips are
close together but is more obvious when the skis are opened into a
G. Arms are bent at the elbows as
poles push begins. Pole angle varies with speed, but hands
are high and elbows are in front of the torso and outside of the shafts
as pole push begins. Effective skate poling mimics the double pole as
much as possible.
H. Poling begins and adds forward
motion to the ski before push-off begins. To maximize the
initial poling force, body weight is placed onto the poles before any
weight transfer movement to the new ski. Movement of the ski away from
the core progressively tips it on edge during the pole push, with wide
variation in timing and degree of edge angle dependent upon conditions
and the skier.
Torso compression phase of poling
is completed before the leg extension. Poling power is released with
the follow through as the leg push is unleashed. Executing
an abdominal crunch while extending your legs weakens both movements.
The depth and character of upper-body compression matches the time
available for poling. More time is available with more glide. With less
glide, abbreviated pole strokes may lack follow-through and complete
recovery. (Photos A & C). Regardless of depth, elbows swing in
such a way as to scribe an arc from in front to behind the torso with
each poling motion.
Push-off occurs with weight still
on skating ski. The weighted leg supports the skier until
the push-off moves the skier off the ski and onto the next. Weight
transfer onto the next ski is timed to prevent the skier from “falling
off” the ski before push-off can be completed. (Photos A, B, F, and H)