Classic vs Skate Skiing: Which is right for you?

When it comes to skiing on machine groomed trails at Nordic Ski areas, there are two major styles of cross-country skiing:

  1. Classic skiing
  2. Skate skiing.

Professional cross-country skiers compete in both styles; but skate and classic cross country skiing use different equipment and different techniques, which makes it expensive and challenging to start both at the same time.

Balance, Coordination and Fitness Demands

The video above compares the mechanics of skate and classic skiing and discusses the physical challenges of each style in terms of the balance, coordination and fitness levels demanded by each type of skiing.

It’s intended for anyone new to the sport of cross-country skiing who is trying to decide between skate and classic skiing.

You will learn why many people find skate skiing exhausting and challenging when first getting started. Whereas in classic skiing a beginner can get away with walking or shuffling the skis to move forward, skate skiing demands full body coordination and excellent balance, even at the beginner level.

Other key points of difference

  • Skate skiing requires machine groomed trails or a thick crust on the surface of the snow. It’s almost impossible to skate ski in deep or ungroomed snow.
  • Skate skiing is difficult to enjoy in extreme temperatures (cold or warm) because the snow runs slow and gliding is difficult.
  • The speed of travel is generally faster in skate skiing than classic.
  • Skate skis are easier to handle on the downhills because they are shorter than classic skis.

Although skate skiing demands better balance and fitness that classic skiing, at least at the beginner level, it’s by no means out of reach. If skate skiing appeals to you more, then you should feel completely confident that you can learn how to do it.

Our extensive collection of demo videos, video technique analysis and outstanding drills can help. The cost of a membership is nominal. Check it out on our pricing page.

Did you know we have ski technique videos?

For skiers just getting started:

For Skate Skiers: The One Skate Dance Drill

For Classic Skiers: Learn Diagonal Stride - this will benefit you even if you've been skiing for years as this teaches competition technique.

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