Something like herringbone in Classic skiing, except that you glide some on
each ski. Use alternating single pole-pushes to help the
This poling approach is sometimes called "diagonal
poling", because it's sort of like the poling sequence for Classic striding,
which is also called "diagonal" stride. Or sometimes this
whole motion is called "diagonal skate" -- but really there's not much about it
which is actually like our usual geometric concept of diagonal.
This motion is also sometimes called "herringbone skate", but
the best leg-push for it is not much like classic herringbone, so
I find that terminology misleading.
"Coaches skate" is another term used for this
alternating Single-Poling skate technique. The idea is that the elite
athletes are so strong that they can climb up any steep hill using V1
skate technique -- but their coaches are no longer have the raw
strength, so they have to be smart about how to survive getting over the
steep hills. I like that term: Single-Poling skate as the intelligent
technique for experienced intelligent skiers.
The strategy theme of the Single-Poling skate motion technique is
simplify the poling-motion coordination to focus on leg-push power, and
to make it easy to eliminate "low power" phases or "dead spot" gaps in
When and who should use Single-Poling skate?
(a) Steep Hills -- It gets tricky to handle getting through the
"weak spot" on the pole-recovery side when using V1 Skate to climb up a
steep hill. But there's no need for a weak spot in
Single-poling Skate, because each single-pole recovery move can be done
simultaneously with the single-pole push move on the other side.
(b) Easy to Learn -- This poling coordination is easier to learn
than other skate motion techniques. Simpler to manage for getting
around in many skiing situations, not only steep hills.
Single-Poling Skate is a valuable technique for most
beginning skaters to practice.
The selection on steep hills is a question. For novice skiers, the
V1 and Single-Poling hill-climbing techniques are very different --
because novice-level V1 has a big weak-spot gap and novice-level
Single-Poling Skate is similar to classic Herringbone. But for
expert skaters, the "weak spot" in V1 is becomes much more managable,
because they've spent years working on the complex coordination and the
slow-speed control responses. For them, V1 permits them to engage
more muscles (e.g. the upper-abdominal "chest-crunch" muscles) to
more effectively help the legs. So for expert skaters the "niche"
remaining for Single-Poling Skate can be very small.
On some steep hills, some skaters prefer instead this
"hybrid" approach: Make a few strokes of V1, then switch to
Single-Poling for a few strokes (or even pure
herringbone?), then back to a few more strokes of
Keep the "side-glide" going:
- Use the hip abductor muscles to help
push the ski further out to the side.
- Do not fall into the obvious direct-labor approach of just stepping
the ski up the hill. Instead focus on stepping the tail of the ski
up and forward -- but only for the purpose of aiming the tip more out to the side.
Otherwise might as well just be doing classic
The more the ski glides out to the side, the less
steep is my effective path up the hill. The easier it is to keep my ski
gliding fast enough ("quasi-horizontally") along the surface of
the snow so that I can control it without "stalling out" in the middle
of the stroke -- while keeping the rate of my main hard work of vertical
climbing slow enough so my muscles don't "burn out" on my way to
Following the strategy theme for this
technique, the main hint for how to think about the pole-push technique
- Think about poling as little as possible. Instead think
- The first idea is to fall into whatever poling motion and timing
seems to help the legs, without distracting your mental focus on
Timing of pole-push:
- Some instructors say that each pole-push should start
simultaneous with the start of the opposite leg-push. An
advantage of this is that it is then natural to aim the pole so that
it assists side-glide away further toward the leg-push side.
- I like it better for myself if I plant my current-leg-push-side
pole sometime during the second half of my leg-push on the same
side. Then continue my leg-push through the set-down of the next
foot and the thru the initial phases of the next leg-push on the
other side. Perhaps we could call that "offset single-poling
timing", since the start of the pole-push is offset, before the
start of the opposite leg-push (which by coincidence is similar the
timing of classic striding).
Positioning of pole-push:
[ not yet sure what's best for this -- keep it simple and not
distracting, and try to use it help side-glide more than to oppose
Weight-shift of hips side-to-side
The basic idea is to learn to exert and transmit force thru the legs out
toward the side while the ski is gliding out toward the side.
The basic principle of weight-shift is that the pushing ski and the hips
should move in opposite sideways directions during the leg-push -- to as
far apart as possible (except when this interferes with other valuable
For lots more detail on this, see
Climbing Up a Hill Skating.
Shoulder-Torso Swing side-to-side
Swinging the shoulders from side to side could be another way to help the
legs keep going up a steep hill -- keep pushing the ski out to the
side -- to keep the magic of the "side-glide" going.
(Note that the Shoulder-Torso-Swing move cannot help in pure Classic
Herringbone technique, because Classic skiing has no "magic" to convert
sideways motion into forward power.)
But it takes a lot of skillful coordination to both get the timing right
and to transmit it effectively thru the skis (or pole tips?) to the snow
surface. So working on shoulder-torso-swing is not part of the strategy
theme for this technique, so . . .
Most skiers should not worry about it.
Your unconscious neuro-motor control systems will probably fall into
some sort of upper-body motion which is not harmful, and maybe even
helps a little -- and most of us should be glad to accept such an easy
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