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The Beginners Survival Guide to Cross Country Skiing

  1. Introduction & Equipment Sizing
  2. Boot/Binding Combinations

Part 1
Skills For Flat Terrain

  1. Basic Diagonal Stride
  2. Adjusting Pole Straps
  3. Arm Movement in the Diagonal Stride
  4. The Double Pole
  5. Kick Double Pole

Part 2
Skills For Uphill Terrain

  1. Uphill Diagonal Stride
  2. Edging your skis for control
  3. Side Step
  4. Herringbone

Part 3
Downhills & Turning

  1. Getting Up From a Fall
  2. Kick Turn
  3. Track Snowplow




Part 2: Skills For Uphill Terrain

Uphill Diagonal Stride

It’s within all our abilities to get good grip and glide in uphill terrain.

uphill diagonal stride
When skiing uphill, move your feet like your kicking a soccer ball

The key to skiing uphills is thinking ahead. Not in the sense of planning that the hill is coming up in half a kilometer, but in our technique. Think of the movements in front of our body— not what’s going on behind. Forget about trying to push the hand well past our hips or trying to get that long kick-off with the back foot trailing off the snow.

Correct body position on hills should have us feeling as if we’re standing more upright than we do in the flats. A common flaw is that once we’re on uphill terrain we position our upper body relative to the flats when instead we should keep the same position relative to the slope. The Leaning Tower Of Pizza is in great position for skiing flats but would lose its effectiveness if practiced up hills. It’s the angle of the hill which will make us feel as if we’re standing more upright.

One key to staying upright is keeping our eyes focused toward the top of the hill. Another key is correct hip position. If we bend forward at the hips, our body moves in front of our feet, causing the skis to slip. To keep our hips over our feet practice the “Tina Turner pelvic thrust”. Suck in the stomach to move the belly button in towards the spine while rolling the hips up and forward. When done correctly this pelvic tilt reduces the arch in our back and brings the hips in position (21b).

For ultimate uphill grip, use an extreme version of weighting our heels to start the kick. This technique is called a “foot stroke”. In this sequence we’ll actually stroke our foot ahead of the knee just prior to the kick (21c). This stroking motion places our kicking foot forward to create more downward pressure for grip.

The motion of the foot stroke happens from the knee down. To feel the foot stroke, stand over flexed legs and putting one hand over both knees. Now slide one foot forward until that leg almost straightens. The knees should remain side by side and not move in front of the other as one foot strokes forward on the snow. Practice stroking both feet until it feels fluid and natural.

As we ski up a hill the foot stroke happens just before the kick, at the tail end of the glide. Begin skiing up and shorten the stride with a nice bouncy rhythm in the knees. For momentum, imagine you’re nudging a small soccer ball up the hill. As we nudge the ball let the foot begin its stroke forward of the knee to begin the kick. Transfer weight with each step for maximum glide.

On a steep hill, your glide may only be the distance the foot strokes over the snow.



CLASSIC TECHNIQUE: Diagonal Stride; Adjusting Pole Straps; Arm Swing; Double Pole; Kick-Double Pole. CLASSIC UPHILL TECHNIQUE: Classic Uphill Diagonal; Edging; Side Step; Herringbone. DOWNHILLS AND TURNING: Getting up from a fall; Kick Turn; Track Snowplow; Five Tips for the Diagonal Stride; Kick Double Pole. SKATE SKIING: Ten Tips for the V-1; V-2 skate technique; Marathon Skate. ALL AROUND: Stationary Turns; Step Turns. RESOURCES: Nordic Glossary; 20 Q and A; History of Cross Country Skiing

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