Techniques for Nordic Skiing
Practice makes perfect unless all the fun is sapped out and you’d rather go to work than practice your glide one more time. The best way to become great at any sport, including skiing, is to have fun doing it. While drills can seem like a bad military joke, if you think of them like games and play with other people, you’ll learn good technique and hopefully laugh a little.
No Pole DrillPoles are highly over rated…for these drills. Skiing without them will develop dynamic balance and enforce proper weight shift. Use the step-step-glide rhythm while swinging your arms powerfully. Bend your ankles and drive the kicking leg, while exploding down into the ski. Feel the pressure and balance on the balls of your feet.
Practice skiing over all types of terrain without your poles. Race a friend, one with poles the other without; see who’s faster. When climbing think quick and light steps. If you find yourself slipping, you are probably taking too big of a step and letting your hips sink back.
When that becomes easy, try kick double poling with only imaginary poles. Start with both arms and legs together at the point of the kick. Move swiftly downward over the kicking foot, bending your knees and ankles without breaking at the waist. More difficult than it sounds, if you do it right you’ll have correct timing and a good kick.
Athletic Stance DrillA favourite with many ski teams is the athletic stance game. With no poles, you ski side by side with a partner (this works best with classical technique) focusing on flexed but upright body position, feet hip width apart, knees ankles and hips bent, back rounded. Gently try to push your partner over from the side. This is not a full contact sport. If your athletic stance is good, you should not fall.
Running DrillThe running drill is hopping, or running, which improves your glide. Useful in either classical or skating techniques, inserting five running steps into your stride will pick up your tempo, correct your limb timing and realign your hips over your skis with the good fairy’s magic. Now sing.
Skipping DrillClassical skiers can intensify the running drill by skipping rather than running. Glide, hop, kick to the other ski, glide, hop, kick to the other ski; continue the pendulum swing of your arms as if you had poles. Again this movement aligns your body position and balance on the balls of your feet, but also teaches quick kicking and coordination.
Wait Weight DrillOk, it’s time to test your new found skills. With your poles, play a game of freeze tag with yourself. After the double-pole phase fully un-weight the non-kicking foot; Freeze. You should be gliding on one ski with your hips high, or you’re lying on the snow. When you’ve mastered staying frozen on your feet, test your self by picking up the non-weighted foot, to ensure you are not cheating.
Toe Touch DrillFast hands make faster feet, but simply practicing throwing your hands down the track quicker is not as much fun as trying to touch the tip of your ski. Reach the opposite hand to touch the gliding ski, deeply flexing your ankle, but don’t squat. Alternate rapidly. If you’re really looking for a challenge, try it out of the tracks.
If the balls of your feet become sore, Congratulations, you are kicking powerfully; Good job. Be aware, however, that track conditions change and so your kick may feel different from day to day. Practice your drills at various speeds changing up the tempo. And if you need a break from gliding drills, try the hokey pokey and turn yourself around.