Tricky Time

Becoming a Skater

Drive, then glide: U.S. national cross-country team member Nina Kemppel perfects her ski-ski technique.     Photo: Greg Von Doersten

"SKATE-SKIING ALLOWS YOU to go 20 percent faster than traditional cross-country skiing," says Nina Kemppel, 32, a four-time U.S. Olympian. Skating trumps trad-style in other ways, too: Its shorter skis require less waxing, and its sturdier boots help you get out beyond the confines of a groomed doubletrack to ski anywhere you find packed powder.

To blast off, start with your feet together, then flow like so: 1) If you're left-handed, glide the left ski forward and slightly outward, with your weight centered over it (right-handers, start with your right ski), while simultaneously poling with both arms on either side of you. 2) As you follow through on the poles, shift your weight to your right ski, pushing from the inside ball of your left foot and gliding forward on your right leg. 3) When that glide is complete, push back onto the left leg, and follow with your poles. You should pole with both arms, but only when pushing off your lead leg. "A common mistake is that people get caught in the middle," says Kemppel. "They don't commit to one ski. Your head, shoulders, and hips should always be traveling in the same direction as your weighted ski."

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