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Skate vs. Classic

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
I haven't XC skiied since I was 12 or so, and I only did it once then. I'm thinking that if my schedule allows, I'd like to add that this year. I know that I'll want racy skis. That's just how I am. I'll probably not race, but I'll have good access to XC areas, and I might do the Stowe Derby. What are the pros/cons? I always hear the XC skiing - cycling analogy. Could Classic = Mountain biking while skate = roa?. It seems like a more constant effort in skating while you could glide and rest on classic skis. Also, what skis are more adversely affected by "bad" conditions?
post #2 of 37
Skate skiing is somewhat analogous to road riding due to the need of a consistent, relatively smooth surface, cadence/rhythm and highly cardiovascular, total body workout.

Classic XC
on a track is similar in several ways and dependent on correct grip wax and glide while skate skiing on good edge push and glide.

Even if the surface temperature changes, you can propel yourself while skating, while classic kick and glide can reduce if your grip wax system isn't correct creating slippage.

Patterned based (cut into base) and fish scale skis (incorrectly named 'waxless') replace the grip zone wax, but glide wax is still necessary for glide and to keep from icing and collecting snow. If you are correct on your grip wax, you can almost double the grip/kick of a patterned based ski, but the 'waxless' is still effective over a broader range of temperatures and conditions.

XC or BC Touring are more like hybrid biking or hiking where you can go most anywhere and you are not reliant on a prepared track or surface. Great for back door skiing or exploring. Plus you can add skins if you need for climbing ability. Patterned based skis and metal edges offer high versatility in a range of conditions for BC touring. Classic XC skis can be used for lighter XC touring.

Rugged Touring tends toward beefier XC skiing where some turns are a real option and skins a typical accessory. Tele or AT bindings could be part of the mix, as can a beefier NNN boot and binding. This is most like MTB than the others, IMO.

HTH
post #3 of 37
Road = narrow light skis on a groomed track for skating or classic. Need a touring center.

MTB~ sort of like skiing off the groomed track. Except for crust cruising, that is usually done with classic technique on skis wider than race skis
post #4 of 37
Without a prepared track skating is pretty much impossible. But with one, it is a beautiful thing. Faster, smoother, and more dynamic.
post #5 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by screamindoggies View Post
Without a prepared track skating is pretty much impossible. .
Spring crust: The best skating, some of the best skiing on the planet.



post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 
Skate boots seem to be taller than classic boots. Do they feel less sketchy on downhills?
post #7 of 37
Stowe Derby will be way easier with skate gear.
Well, okay, how about, not quite as difficult...?
post #8 of 37
Skating:
-more demanding physically
-easier waxing (no grip wax)
-can only ski on groomed tracks or good crust
-exhausting on very cold/slow snow (ie less than -18C)

Classic
-easier for beginners (more like walking)
-grip wax can be tricky to get right - have fun with wet snow/new snow/ ice/ warm temperatures.
-can use xc gear on easy backcountry routes
-boots are cheaper

Skating boots are also more supportive if you get a high-end pair. They have a higher cuff with a rotating ankle and a much much stiffer sole for power transfer.

Classic boots have no cuff and have a soft-flexing sole to allow proper kick.

I recommend not getting skis/boots with SNS profile bindings. They have easily the poorest downhill control. Go with either SNS pilot or NNN.
post #9 of 37
One more note.....

Inevitably, manufacturers try to make some skate/classic combo gear.

The boots are great. The skis suck.

A good skate/classic combo boot can be a decent boot for light backcountry bushwhacking as well.
post #10 of 37
If you get a skating or combo boot, this would be THE year to call Jamie.

http://www.nordicskater.com/blades.html
post #11 of 37
How could I have forgotten about the spring crust?!!! I should have said firm surface, prepared either by man or nature.
post #12 of 37
Almost every nord I know skis both. Depending on your chosen ski location and condition, skating or classic is going to be an easy choice.

At a well groomed nordic area, the skating is great. Wear yourself out in an hour, then take out the classic skis for a casual warm down.

You can't really skate on more than a few inches of fresh snow, while classic skiing through fresh snow is fun and fast.

Except for the super backcountry crust skating, all skating has to be done on prepared tracks. While you can classic ski following a single snowmobile track. Again, the snow conditions and chosen ski location will guide your decision.

With a good combo boot, two pairs of skiis and poles will give you a wide range skiing options.

mark
post #13 of 37
One more point: skate skis have an alpine camber, and are much easier to turn/control while skiing downhill.
post #14 of 37
Reminds me of another great idea. We frequently hit Monarch ski area after it closes for a skating session. Usually as a moonlight ski adventure. The groomed cat tracks make great skating lanes.

We work a bit to avoid getting busted by the snowcat drivers. Otherwise, a great way to skate some interesting terrain.

mark
post #15 of 37
I'm not going to quote anyone, but there's many things in this thread, that are just plain wrong.

Skating is not really physically harder. To be honest, for less then perfect trained athlete, classic is physically harder. If you can't go anymore uphill, with skating it still looks like you are moving somewhere, while with classic you are only walking. For racing, both are same... you are dead on the end of race, no matter if race is skating or classic If you are not, you are doing something wrong

Next to technique... skating is smooth? Sure, but so is classic. But then again, if you look some beginner who thinks skating is easier it looks really bad. I have no idea why people think they can ski skating better then classic... better then movement in which they are moving for all their life (read: walking or running, just that here you added skis and poles). I guess it's partly because noone showed them movie of their skiing

For beginner classic is much easier, since movement is much more natural then it is with skating. To be honest, 99% of people I meet on skiing tracks nowadays have no idea how to properly ski skating. And the rest 1% are (ex) racers.

But there is one thing with classic, and that's waxing. It's no big deal if you are living up in Scandinavia and you have blue extra period since October till April, but for pretty much for all rest of World, waxing can be quite often pain in the a**.

Personally I wouldn't really go into road vs. mtb comparison with skating vs. classic. Maybe because when racing, you have to do both, so both skating and classic are for me, after 20 years of racing, just equal part of xc skiing. Xc skiing without one of them doesn't exist.
post #16 of 37
I'm not going to quote anyone here, but the bike type analogy was an attempt at comparing the type of terrain or surface for the various types of XC & skate skiing options for those not familiar with the different types. Do you take your road bike off road?

Personally, it's all good and the intent is to encourage people to take up the sport in any way that works for them and not to make it more complicated than it needs. Most people are not elite skiers nor care to be. For some a track and prepared surface is the primary focus, while others are more interested in a more backcountry or simply touring off the beaten path and getting some fresh air and nice views. For others, it's a mixed bag, especially with a dog, family, access, economic and timing considerations.

I may not have the best technique, but I do have fun and get a good workout and PERSONAL satisfaction (and stress relief) no matter what flavor ski or binding I'm on. It's about being on (or in) snow on skis with a variety of options depending on priorities.
post #17 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post
Do you take your road bike off road?
I will quote someone here :P Nope, but I don't take my racing skis, skating or classic, off the course either And I didn't mean anything bad with telling I don't really agree with road vs. mtb analogy. I would actually say your description was just fine. Both skating and classic on groomed tracks can be somehow compared to road, while backcountry touring could be somehow compared to mtb.
Otherwise I agree... people should ski anyway they want. If they get out and off the couch and TV, it's great. And it doesn't matter if they ski classic or skating.
I don't have anything against people skiing skating, even if they don't have any technique. All I was telling is, that skating is not really easier to learn then classic is. Classic is something everyone do from first day they were able to walk. It's basically same movement as walking, while skating is something what normal people never do in their life, so they should learn from basics on.
But as you said, it doesn't matter what they do and how they do it. Being out and being happy is main thing.
post #18 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post
but the bike type analogy was an attempt at comparing the type of terrain or surface for the various types of XC & skate skiing options for those not familiar with the different types. Do you take your road bike off road?
I took up skate skiing this winter (love it), took some lessons from a local olympian. I think my alpine experience made it very easy to pick up and my overall physical condition made it not seem terribly difficult physically. I like the bike analogy for a different reason. I'm a serious road cyclist and skate skiing just reminds me of road cycling on an quiet mountain road. I also take my dog every time I go and he loves it.

IMO, if you enjoy alpine skiing and road cycling or endurance sports in general, you'll love skate skiing. But DEFINITELY get some instruction.
post #19 of 37
.....plus it's a great way to introduce young and old alike as an excellent progression to alpine and telemark skiing. Throw a kid on fish scales and let 'em go. You do not much snow to get on skis and have exponentially more options of places to get out with less cost, depending on where you live.
post #20 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by breckview View Post
I like the bike analogy for a different reason. I'm a serious road cyclist and skate skiing just reminds me of road cycling on an quiet mountain road.
One unifying thread between road riding and classic/skate skiing on a groom track, is the cadence and rhythm that you don't get on variable terrain and conditions.
post #21 of 37
I would -love- to see more roadies skate ski. Esp. women with 1K+ mpy in the legs.

Fewer pathetic Frankenstein's monster impressions when asked to transfer weight from hip to hip, see.
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by primoz View Post
I'm not going to quote anyone, but there's many things in this thread, that are just plain wrong.

Skating is not really physically harder. To be honest, for less then perfect trained athlete, classic is physically harder. If you can't go anymore uphill, with skating it still looks like you are moving somewhere, while with classic you are only walking. For racing, both are same... you are dead on the end of race, no matter if race is skating or classic If you are not, you are doing something wrong
Perhaps I am a perfectly trained athlete, but I have to disagree with your claim that skating is not physically harder. While skating more muscle groups are used and you do not glide directly forward, resulting in wasted energy.

Out of interest, what sort of xc racing background do you have?

Looking at old racing footage, I find it very interesting how the skate technique has evolved. Even since Nagano 1998 the difference is breathtaking. If you skied 1998-style on the world cup today and did well heads would turn. The biggest differences are less extreme weightshift, hips further forward, and a more erect and stationary upper body. The forward hip "thrust" is kinda a big deal now. Basically, when you are studying technique don't look at any video from before 2006.

Agree that most skiers that do not race look pretty bad, especially skating.
post #23 of 37
I find either classic or skating to have the potential to be totally draining, but I find classic easier in a few situations.

If you are in a race in a gradual downhill, in classic, there is nothing to do but sit there and tuck. Skating, you can still gain time if your high speed skate technique is good, so you end up working, not resting, sometimes skating in a tuck.

On an easy day, one can walk up the hills on classic skis. Skating, particularly if the snow is slow, you either have to work hard to get up any hill, or herringbone in a huge angle. I find that sucks, so I just dig in and skate. I can skate pretty darn slow, but it still is not as easy as really low energy classic.

Most of the skiers I know pick classic as the technique for a recovery day workout.
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by b31den View Post
. Basically, when you are studying technique don't look at any video from before 2006.
.
I agree with your post, but it the differences are not that extreme. My next door neighbor won Olympic medals in 2002 and 2006 with essentially the same technique. The more video I watch, the more it seems there is an element of what works for you in skating.
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
I agree with your post, but it the differences are not that extreme. My next door neighbor won Olympic medals in 2002 and 2006 with essentially the same technique. The more video I watch, the more it seems there is an element of what works for you in skating.
Hmm, I don't know of too many Canadian olympic cross-country medalists living in bend... Especially one that got robbed of imediate glory by dirty russians.


I was refering more to men's skating technique, as women can't ski the same as men due to weaker stabilizing muscles in the knees and hips. Even the fastest women don't ski like men. I suppose most of the technique changes did happen between nagano and salt lake. Plus everyone has their own style, like you said.

One style that stands out is Halvard Hanevold from Norway. He skis super wide. Another norwegian, Lars Berger, is pretty fast too but he is so tall that his technique would not work for an average-sized person.

Ideal ski technique examples would be: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Emil Svendsen, and for classic Axel Teichmann.

Technique isn't the be all and end all of performance either. An example of a fast female who has poor technique is Magdalena Neuner. Probably easily the fastest in the world, although I don't think she ever races cross-country.
post #26 of 37
Can you post some example videos with comments?

Along with learning better technique, It'd be great as a way to add some stoke to this little used section and generate interest as well as personal edification. Also, by illustrating various techniques, I think it'll help those who haven't seen too many examples. Nordic skiing certainly isn't main stream sports television.

post #27 of 37
Here's some great stuff: You'll see much less nose knee ski allignment and less upper body drop than in the 90's, but mostly, some wicked fast skating, and a good crash.

http://www.universalsports.com/media...LE_ID=35919 0
post #28 of 37
Nagano 1998 Bjorn Daehlie. He is a skiing legend, the most successful skier of all time. Since this is from 1998 you will notice that him and other skiers have different technique from the modern videos. Note that the upper body twists a lot more and their poles are longer (5-10cm?). It is also surprising how soon he offsets into the hills. In recent years skiers are 1-skating (V2) farther into the hills.


Here is modern footage of Bjoerndalen and Poiree (equally good technique) and Sven Fischer. As you can see from the side-view the hips come farther forward than in the nagano video, poles are shorter, less upper body movement and the weight-shift is led by the hips and not the upper body.


Another clip of Bjoerndalen this time in Cross-Country. He doesnt look quite as good in this one but you still can't complain.


Tobias Angerer. He won WC overall a couple times so oveously his technique isn't too shabby either. Notice how even classic is emulating skating now in how the hips are positioned forward and with an erect upper body during pole plant.


The big things to keep in mind while thinking about your technique:

-Keep hips forward. You would fall on your face if your poles didnt catch you each time you plant them.

-Use your hips to move you across from ski to ski, not your shoulders.

-The classic "Toe-knee-hip-nose" alignment while you are gliding on one leg. Although the top racers have scaled this back in recent years the general public could benefit greatly from this.

-Forward ankle flex. Your knee should cover your toe. This is tricky to do while maintaining your hips forward.

-All of the above points basically point to using your hips to guide where you are going. You are moving forward, so keep your hips forward. When you shift your weight from ski to ski move your hips left and right, the rest of you will follow.

-Do core strength. It will help in all aspects of your technique. Many will also need to strengthen the medial glute (esp. women) to keep the knees tracking strait during the kick phase to the side (no buckling in).

There are technique DVDs that you can buy from ski shops which have slow mo, lines superimposed on athletes to show the various angles, etc. It is also good just to watch good skiers on video (lots on youtube -> search cross-country or biathlon). I find it helpful to use a video recorder so that I can get visual feedback.

In many ways good position is similar to alpine skiing - getting your weight forward and out of the backseat, just a lot harder because it is a lot more dynamic.
post #29 of 37
Excellent. Thanks.
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by b31den View Post
Out of interest, what sort of xc racing background do you have?
All together about 20 years of racing, including almost 10 years in national team, and racing mostly European cup races. I was skiing in times of Ulvang, Dahlie, Myllyla etc. I never did anything great, and I never qualified for Olympics of WCH, so if someone want, they can mark my skiing as failure, even though I don't consider it as this, but I admit I was never anything special.
On technique side... all biathletes you mentioned have extremely specific technique, partially also because of 4.5kg heavy rifle on their back. At the moment, I don't remember not even one single xc skier with such technique, and you still have to remember that Bjoerndalen for example, is not fastest skier around But I wrote something about this in some other thread. Top level skiers (and those racing "just" European cup races) have their own technique. It's not perfect for everyone, it's not by the book,but it's most efficient for them. So there's no ideal technique for everyone. There's ideal technique for specific skier, and this technique might be completely wrong according to the "proper by the book technique". Noone knows, but maybe Daehlie wouldn't be skiing all that much different today, as he was before. Or maybe he would have completely different style today. We will never know
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