Cross-country Ski Techniques

Cross-country Ski Techniques
Cross-country skiing is a great way to experience the outdoors in the winter. It allows for an escape from the busy slopes and crowds of downhill skiing to an environment where quiet serenity is more important than speed. Additionally, it burns more calories per hour than almost any other outdoor-based, winter activity. Cross country skiing is guaranteed to provide an all-around fulfilling, scenic, enjoyable workout. Mastering the techniques may take a few weeks, but the result is well worth the time.

Diagonal Stride

Propel yourself forward on tracks at a Nordic skiing facility or through deep, backcountry powder by using the diagonal stride. In the stride, your skis move parallel to each other, pushing at the back of your stride to create movement and then gliding forward to cover ground.

Skate Skiing

Increase your speed in groomed areas by using the skate skiing technique. Skate skiing is similar to ice skating or rollerblading in the continuous, gliding motion used to propel participants over the snow. In each skate-skiing stride, you lift your back foot off the ground while your front ski glides out at a slight diagonal.


Motor up hills undeterred by using the herringbone technique. In the herringbone, you stick each ski tip out to the side and lean on your inside, uphill edge with your body weight balanced uphill, using your poles to catch yourself and support your weight as you travel.

Side Step

Proceed with caution down steep hills by using the side step. Position yourself perpendicular to the slope of the hill and lean on your uphill edges. Plant a pole on each side, lean your body weight uphill and carefully walk down the hill.

Slow Down

Slow down using a wedge. Drive your heels apart from each other while keeping your toes together so your skis look like a pizza wedge. Lean on the inside edges of your skis and keep your knees bent and your body weight centered to slow down, using the friction created by your edges in contact with the snow.


Learn to turn by using this simple five-step technique. Wedge your skis. Decide which way you want to turn. Turn your torso in that direction. Turn your head in that direction. Last, pointedly shift your body weight through your legs to turn your skis in that direction. Go slow at first, and you will improve as you get more comfortable with shifting your weight.

Article Written By Caroline Schley

Based in New York City, Caroline Schley has been writing articles on fitness, social interaction and politics since 2008. Her articles have appeared in "The Tahoe Weekly," "Second Line News" and websites, including Schley graduated from CU Boulder in 2005 with a degree in environmental science.

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