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Touching tails

Skate technique

Fri, Jan  21, 2011 - By Caitlin Compton

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Q: I am new to skate skiing, it seems my the tails of my skis are always touching especially on climbs.  I have become frustrated with skating, it seems I am working too hard.  Any advice as to how to help with technique? TT

Dear TT,

If the tails of your skis are touching on the climbs it might indicate that you are skiing with your feet too narrow and you are not shifting your weight from side to side enough. I would suggest heading out for a skate ski without poles and focusing on committing all of your weight to one ski at a time. Start by shifting from one ski to the other while skiing along on fairly flat terrain at an easy heart rate. Once you feel stable enough, extend the glide on each side as long as you can. Really allow yourself to push your limits of balance here.

Now that you are gliding long you should start to move your body from side to side (shifting your weight) as you commit to each new gliding ski. Imagine your body as if it were a rectangle. Imagine your shoulders as the upper corners and your hips as the lower corners. Shift the entire rectangle sideways as if it were stuck on a grid. Your body will maintain the same level (parallel to the snow) throughout the stroke but have plenty of lateral movement. This will increase your glide dramatically.

When you feel comfortable with these drills on the flats move towards a steeper hill. As you begin to climb envision your feet as if you had a box between them. Pretend that you must keep the box there at all times. As you try to climb you will find yourself being forced to "shift your weight" from side to side in order to move forward and keep the box between your feet. This may take some practice before you "feel" yourself climbing and gliding more efficiently. Be patient! Don't forget the importance of good ankle flexion and a forward knee drive when shifting your weight. Make sure you can barely see your bindings beyond your knee caps when you are looking straight down at your gliding ski.

Good Luck,
Caitlin Compton
CXC Team
2010 Olympian