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Skiing Basics – Classic Skiing

Part 2: Skiing Basics – Classic Skiing

Now it’s time to start learning some of the basic movements on snow. This section will cover:
  • How to move and glide on flat terrain.
  • How to go uphill.
  • How to go downhill.
  • How to get up from the ground.
Here are some ways to move and glide on your cross country skis. On flat terrain, you use a series of pushes or kicks against the snow to move forward. To start, you need to push down with a flat foot to have your fishtails or skins grip the snow, and then kick backwards. When incorporating your arms and poles when skiing you move them opposite to your legs in a similar pattern to normal brisk walking.

Sometimes you will encounter small hills and need to ski up. The technique used to get up a hill will vary depending on how steep it is. On less steep hills, continue with the diagonal stride technic, but shorten the length of each stride (it might feel more like a jog). On steeper hills, you will need to use a technic called the herringbone. Turn the tips of the skis to the outside in a wide V shape and roll your ankles and knees towards each other. This allows the inside edge of the ski to dig into the snow. The steeper the hill, the wider you place your the feet.

The easiest way to control your speed on a downhill is to use a snowplow. Bring the tips of your skis together to create a wedge. Roll your ankles and knees towards each other and dig the inside edge of the skis into the snow. Push the skis out while keeping the tips together to increase the pressure on the inside edge and increase your breaking power. Remember to keep your pole tips behind you as you go downhill. Do not try and slow yourself down by planting your poles in front of you.

Here is how to get up if you fall. If you’re on a hill, place your skis across the hill to help keep you stable when you stand up on your feet. Do not use your poles to lift you up, but instead use your hands. It might even be helpful to take your poles off. Move your weight forward towards your knees and stand up from a kneeling position.

If you are a beginner cross country skier, there is no better way to learn than to take a lesson from a professional instructor. Visit the Take a Lesson page.

Have fun, and see you on the trails!

About The Author

Reese Brown

Reese Brown is Executive Director of U.S./Canadian trade group Cross Country Ski Areas Association, and a snow sports photographer. He has worked in the snow sports industry since 1981 as a coach, event manager, promotional marketer and in project-based strategic development. Considered an industry expert and insider, Brown operates internationally to support and promote the sport of cross country skiing, growing public awareness and participation.


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