Cross-country Skiing: Classic and Skate Skiing Techniques

Woman cross-country skiing in the mountains with her dog

Cross-country Skiing: Classic and Skate Skiing Techniques

When it comes to cross-country skiing, there are two techniques: classic skiing and skate skiing. Read on to learn how these methods differ and whether you need different equipment for each.

Cross-country skiing or “Nordic skiing”

With cross-country skiing, a person uses their own strength of body to move themselves across snowy terrain without the help of ski lifts or other forms of assistance. You can read more about cross-country skiing here.

There are two common techniques people use when cross-country skiing: skate skiing and classic skiing.

Classic skiing technique

Just as its name suggests, “classic” skiing is the traditional technique for cross-country skiing. If you were to watch someone classic skiing, it would appear as if they are walking on their skis.

Classic skiing is often viewed as the easier technique to learn. Moreover, you can often find groomed cross-country trails that allow you to follow established tracks. These tracks let you easily glide along to better enjoy the experience. Skiers use a method called “diagonal stride” where they put their weight on one ski, push off, and then glide on the other ski.

Despite being easy to learn, efficiency in classic skiing is difficult to master.

Skate skiing technique

Skate skiing is a more recent cross-country skiing technique, developed in the last half a century. This technique is considered the more challenging of the two for beginners, but provides an excellent workout for athletic people. With skate skiing, it is possible for a skier to reach high speeds.

When someone is skate skiing, it looks like they are ice skating. Skiers push off the skis laterally to propel themselves forward.

Skiers typically take longer to learn to skate ski. If you’re still learning, don’t worry — over time this technique will become less exhausting.

Classic Skiing Vs. Skate Skiing Equipment

Unfortunately, you can’t use the same equipment for both techniques of cross-country skiing. Classic skiing requires longer skis and shorter poles, while skate skiing requires shorter skis and longer poles. As well, when selecting skate skis, it’s important to take choose a pair of skis with your weight in mind.

You will also have different boots and bindings for each type of skis. Classic skiing boots have soft soles for increased flexibility, while skate ski boots are rigid for additional ankle support. There are, however, some hybrid boots you could use for either technique.


Additional references:

Cross-country skiing: Classic vs. Skating
Classic vs. Skate: What’s the difference and what do I choose?


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