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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



herringbone on cross country skis
The Herringbone works for moderately steep terrain

Hills can be major obstacles full of slipping, sliding and nose to snow contact. The herringbone (24a) is a fast and easy way to climb a steep hill with energy to spare, but many skiers have trouble with the proper body position. Here are a few simple rules for the herringbone.

Skis In A “V” Position
The herringbone starts with the skis in a V position: tails together and tips apart. A narrow V will work for a moderate hills while a wide V is needed for steeper terrain.

With our skis in a V position, our grip comes from edging both skis. Roll both ankles and knees toward each other to help set the skis on their inside edge. Don’t over-edge so that our ankles are touching the snow but just enough so we feel comfortable that they won’t slip out to the side. Experiment with a #2 - #4 edge depending on steepness (see side step)

First Steps
As you start up hill, keep the same distance between your feet as you lift up one foot and step it forward and down on the skis inside edge. Short steps are sufficient, just far enough so that you are stepping over the tail of the opposite ski.

Keep Your Hips Forward
Imagine a person sticking their thumbs in their front pockets and thrusting their hips forward. This helps keep weight on your heels for a more positive and stable position over the skis. If your weight is on the toes or ball of the foot, you’ll end up sliding with the skis back down hill.

looking over shoulder in herringbone
Look over your shoulder to see what the tail of your skis are doing,

Where are you Looking?
Always look uphill. This will keep our head up and hips forward to maintain an upright body position. IF we MUST LOOK back at the tails of the skis for any reason, look over our shoulder (24b). The most common urge is to look between our legs which is where your going to fall if you begin that habit.

Use the Poles
It may sound obvious but often forgotten. Plant them behind the feet and use them with every step.




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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