Nordic Skiing Technique – How to Skate Ski

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Last updated: January 11, 2024

At first glance, skate skiing might appear to be a fluid series of movements, but figuring out this sport’s various technique components can be frustrating for those new to cross country skiing. Patrick Coffey, Content Writer and expert Nordic skier, breaks the V1, V2, and V2 Alternate skate skiing techniques down into easily understandable parts in this series of videos. If you’re just learning to Nordic ski, or simply need a refresher, this is a good place to get some tips on timing, body position, and when to use each technique.

V1 Technique

V1 is used primarily when going uphill. It’s less efficient than the V2 technique, but allows skiers to keep their skis moving when the grade kicks up. Think of it as the ‘granny gear’ of Nordic skiing.

A key point here is the timing. When learning V1, pick one side to pole on. As you become a more advanced skier, you’ll learn to pole on either side, but for now, stick with poling on either the left or the right. As you plant your Nordic ski poles, make sure that your skate ski hits the snow at the same time as your pole tips. Also, even though you’re poling only on one side, the amount of glide should be equal on both skis.

V2 Technique

V2 is your medium gear when skate skiing.  Stronger, more advanced skiers can V2 up slight hills, but it’s mostly used to motor across the flats. This skate ski technique is highly efficient, but only if your balance is good enough to make full use of the long glide on each side. In V2, the pole tips hit the ground a split second before your ski.

Patrick does a good job of demonstrating dynamic hip movement. Try to emulate the forward and lateral motion he does in the video.  You might feel stiff, especially if you’re new to the sport, but as you practice more your balance and comfort level will improve, and this movement will become more fluid.

V2 Alternate Technique

To the untrained eye, V2 Alternate might appear similar to V1, since the skier is poling only on one side in both techniques. However, timing, usage, and body position are different in both techniques. V2 alternate is your tall gear for fast flats and slight downhills.

Pick one side to work on and stick with that for now. The timing for this technique is similar to V2—your poles make impact a split second before your ski hits the ground. Think about big glide for this technique since it’s meant to cover ground quickly.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any new skill, these skate skiing techniques take time to learn. Most skiers learn to V1 first, as it will allow you to go uphill and cover any type of terrain in a pinch. As your balance improves, V2 and V2 Alternate become easier. For all of these techniques, remember to shift your body over each ski and keep your shoulders square to the direction of the trail.

For hands-on instruction, swing by the White Pine Touring Nordic Center on Thaynes Canyon Drive, and sign up for a private skate cross country lesson with one of our expert instructors. Or, simply come practice your skate skiing on our 20K of groomed trails. The footage from the video doesn’t lie—we have only sunny, bluebird days here in Park City, UT.

By Evelyn Dong, content writer

This post was updated on January 11, 2024.