Once you get the hang of diagonal striding, you’ll start to “spin out” on flats, downhills and even slight uphills. You’re moving too fast for diagonal stride and you need to switch to a “gear” that has less power and is better for higher speeds.
Enter double pole technique.
Sometimes racers will compete in classic ski races on skate skis using only double pole technique. They get faster glide on skate skis and if they don’t use skate technique they won’t be disqualified.
But you have to be incredibly strong to race with only double pole technique. It’s not something most skiers try. Remember, this technique is more about speed and less about power. You need power to climb hills, and for most people that means diagonal stride.
Because you only push against the snow with your poles, many people think double poling is mainly about the arms and upper body. I have a copy of a Swedish research paper from 2006 whose purpose was “to evaluate the possible role of the lower body during DP”.*
The researchers noted that the legs are the main energy consumers in cross-country skiing, even in double poling. They concluded a more dynamic use of the legs would improve double pole performance.
(I love that the Swedes and other Scandinavian nations do so much cross-country ski research.)
No other technique will deceive you like double pole technique. It looks so simple, but it’s one of the hardest techniques to master. Practicing this dryland drill is a great way to learn how to double pole.
You might also want to check out The Little Known Truth About Powerful Double Poling.
* Holmberg HC, Lindinger S, Stöggl T, Björklund G, Müller E. Contribution of the legs to double-poling performance in elite cross-country ski racers. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Oct;38(10):1853-60.