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what is it

Something like herringbone in Classic skiing, except that you glide some on each ski.  Use alternating single pole-pushes to help the legs.

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.

strategy theme

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 the stroke-cycle.

what for

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 classic herringbone?), then back to a few more strokes of V1, etc.



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 herringbone.

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 the top.


Following the strategy theme for this technique, the main hint for how to think about the pole-push technique is: 

  • Think about poling as little as possible.  Instead think about legs.
  • The first idea is to fall into whatever poling motion and timing seems to help the legs, without distracting your mental focus on effective leg-push.

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 offset pole 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 side-glide. ]

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 things).

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 win.

more . . .

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