Technique and tips

Nordic Ski Instructor, Rudy Gouy, shows you the different cross-country skiing disciplines and the specifics of each one of them.

Rudy, show us the different kinds of “cross-country skiing” that you can practise…

There are 3 disciplines in Nordic Ski: traditional, skate skiing and cross country. A skier who practises the traditional style progresses by placing their skis on the two rails created on the run and by putting one ski forward then the other, in a movement that you can broadly relate to walking. A skate skier moves forward by taking what we call “a skating style step” For this, they position themselves on the flat part of the run and push off, with a sliding motion, on one ski then on the other (the skis forming a V). To help them, they use poles with each push on one leg or every double-step. Lastly, cross-country is a discipline which is practised off-piste from Nordic areas. It lets you cover great stretches of snow surrounded by nature.

What are the specifics of each of these practices?

For the traditional one, you use larger skis than skate skiing, but smaller poles than skate skiing. Also the skis don’t have edges. In order to not go backwards on the climbs, the movements being in the direction of travel, the sole of the traditional skis is either equipped with scales or covered in kick wax. Lastly, the footwear used is lower with a quite flexible sole to allow the toes to extend and therefore enable a more efficient push.

For skate skiing, the skis don’t have edges; they are shorter and the poles are larger. To be able to skate really well, we cover the sole of the skis with a glide wax. The V shape, which the skating style step lends to the skis, stops you going backwards on the climbs. Therefore no kick wax is needed. As for footwear, you can see that they have higher uppers to better support the ankle.

Lastly, for cross country, slightly wider skis are necessary (50mm) in order to move forward more easily in deep snow. Their sole, equipped with edges, can be kitted out with scales or skins (like for alpine cross country skiing) to stop yourself going backwards on the slopes. 

Lastly, can you describe the tips and correct steps we should know?

It’s difficult to describe the alternative to flat style steps or the climbing alternative style step for the traditional, or the 2 part skiing style step or the combined 2 part one for skate skiing. The best thing to do is to give it a go! However, give it a go as well as making sure you’ve taken a few hours of cross country skiing lessons with a qualified instructor.