How To Skate On Skis

Picture this, you get off the ski lift and prepare for your run down the mountain. You tighten your boots, put your wrists through your pole straps, and begin your descent down the trail.

As you get towards the bottom of the run you can see the ski lift off in the distance and you can’t wait for your next epic run. Before you know it though, the ground begins to flatten out and so does your speed.

You eventually come to a stop and the lift for your next run doesn’t seem so close anymore. This forces you to shuffle over and use your poles to push towards the lift.

Trust me…We have all been there!

Now you have to skate your way to the lift.

Now a lot of different styles of ski skating are utilized in cross country skiing, but here I’m just talking about skating when you’re you need an easier way to travel on flat terrain with regular downhill skis.

What is Ski Skating?

You’ll find a lot of fancy definitions on the internet for ski skating, but mine is pretty simple. Ski skating is the combination of using your inside ski edges and poles to push simultaneously, while shifting your weight back and forth for an easier way to move forward.

Ski skating will be your best friend on the mountain because once you’re able to do it, you won’t need to just utilize your arms and poles to push on flat ground.

The strongest muscles in your body are in your legs so why not use them! It’ll make your life easier and allow you to put your energy into crushing epic downhill runs.

Ski skating may feel somewhat hard at first, but I promise that once you learn the rhythm of this skill, you’ll be doing this technique with ease in no time.

How to Ski Skate?

The key to successful ski skating starts before you even use your arms or legs. Body posture is the first thing that you need to conquer to set yourself up for success.

Body Posture Checklist

  1. Stand straight up with a slight knee bend.
  2. Make sure your skis are shoulder width apart.

If you need to slightly widen or narrow your skis that’s fine because comfort is always key. Many skiers make the mistake of being too wide or too narrow though which sets you up for failure so a small adjustment is okay, but don’t make too big of a change where you lose power.

In ski skating balance plays a huge role for success. Before this skill becomes second nature, don’t forget to check your balance.

Here’s a tip: Since you’re using one ski to push at a time check your stability while standing on one ski. Alternate picking up your right and left foot to see if you’re in a good stance.

Once body posture is taken care of, it’s time to get to the fun part…skating!

Here’s the process for a successful speed skate to make you enjoy the flat part of the mountain:

  1. Make sure you’re in a comfortable and athletic stance.
  2. Point your skis out on a slight angle. This shouldn’t be too drastic, but it gets your skis started on an angle to push off your inside edges.
  3. Slightly move your hips forward and have a small lean in your upper body. When you move your hips and body forward, it will take a little pressure off of your legs when you start skating.
  4. Now it’s time to push and waddle. Dig into the inside edge of one ski and push.
  5. This initial push will start the gliding process. As you begin to glide bring your legs back to shoulder width and then repeat as you’re moving.
  6. After repeating the push a few times, you’ll be gliding with ease. Take more time in between pushes as you pick up speed to reduce friction. Once you get moving you won’t need to push as hard to gain momentum.

So that covers your legs in the ski skate, but arms can be really helpful in propelling you back to the lift as well! Arms are secondary to legs in the ski skate, but when our whole body is working together in unison, we will be much stronger.

Here’s my first pole tip and it will save you some frustration on the slopes. Always loop your wrists into your pole straps for added protection because if you’re skating and a pole gets stuck in the snow it won’t be fun.

This has gotten the best of me more times than I can count so learn from my mistakes!

The pole strategy I like to use is the double pole push. For the double pole push, you’ll be pushing both poles together with every single glide off your inside ski edge.

The benefits of pushing with both poles is huge because in my experience it’s easier than pushing with one at a time and you get a lot more power. More power means you’re back on the ski lift quicker and getting in more runs down the mountain!

Details of the Double Pole Push:

  1. Have your arms bent at a 90-degree angle while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Being too tense will create tired arms which makes for weaker pushes.
  2. The 90-degree arms will help you push straight down and then roll back to their starting position when working simultaneously with your legs.
  3. Plant your poles right before you start the push off the inside edge of your ski. Use your poles to help propel you forward with your legs.
  4. Push off with your poles and bring them back to a 90-degree angle with relaxed shoulders.

That covers everything you need to know for incorporating ski skating into your day down hilling to make your life easier on flatter ground. I hope these tips were helpful and you get a few extra runs in this season because the flat ground didn’t stand a chance slowing you down!

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