The “One Skate Dance” – For Getting Started in Skate Skiing [Video Tutorial]
Summary: The “One Skate Dance” is an effective drill for helping skate skiers quickly get the knack of One Skate (V2 skate skiing).
It helps skiers discover the beautiful rhythms of One Skate and learn how to effectively power their leg push with their body weight.
Skate Skiing is Hard!
Learning to One Skate (V2 Skate) was a huge struggle for me.
Other skiers made it looks so easy. They moved fast, but barely seemed to be trying. Their movements were economical, graceful, and powerful. Obviously there was a knack to skate skiing, but I couldn’t figure it out. I flailed about on the flats and got completely bogged down on hills.
I felt like I was hauling myself forward with my poles and getting no power from my legs. I couldn’t understand it. My legs were strong, far stronger than my arms, but pushing harder with my legs just made my heart race; it barely improved my speed at all. My pathetic speed did not correlate with my effort.
What’s the Secret?
There’s probably many reasons skate skiing is so challenging to learn, but here’s 2 things I wish I had understood from the start:
- Instead of thinking about getting more power from your legs, you should think about getting more power from your body weight. The trick is to learn how to channel your body weight into your leg push.
- Learning to balance on your glide ski is far, far, far more important than learning how to push with your legs. You can have a wonderful time on classic skis, even if your balance isn’t perfect, but skate skiing will be painful until your balance improves.
The drill I explain in this video is amazing for helping beginners discover “the secret” of skate skiing. When they start with this drill, they immediately get to feel the amazing rhythm of One Skate. That’s something that took me years to discover. It’s also an excellent drill for working on balancing on your glide ski.
(A transcript is provided at the end of this post.)
Why We Love It
One Skate is one of the most beautiful nordic ski techniques. It has a lovely rhythm and makes you feel like you’re doing ballet on snow. This drill let’s beginners get a glimpse of beauty of One Skate very early in their learning journey.
And, as I alluded to in the video, you can’t help but want to push with your legs when you do this drill. The way move your body tells you instinctively when it’s the right time to push and how you can add power to your kick.
We’d love to hear what you think about this drill and whether you find it helpful. Please leave your feedback in the comments section, below this (very long) transcript.
When people are first getting started in skate skiing, they often feel like they’re only using their upper body. They’re dragging themselves along with their poles and they’re not able to tap into their lower body strength.
The exercise I’ll show you today is a great way to start to get the feel for how you can use your body weight and your lower body to help move yourself forward on skate skis.
I call this exercise “The One Skate Dance”. To get started, you want t get into the ready position (or athletic position). Put your feet shoulder width apart and drop your hips straight down so that your knees push forward.
You’re looking to have flexion down here at the ankles and not so much your hips going back. You can hinge a little bit here at the upper body, but try to avoid letting everything go too far back. If you think about pushing your knees forward and keeping your hips low, you’ll be in the right position.
Once you get into that position the first thing to do is practice moving your weight from one foot to the other. You want to do this by sliding your hips across from one side to the other. If you do this in front of a mirror, you can check that your shoulders are level and that your upper body stays vertical. You can move across and keep your upper body quite still just by thinking about pushing your hips out.
Once you have a feel for that and you’re in the overall correct position, then take yourself over onto one leg and extend up. Don’t lock out your knee on a straight leg, but stand up pretty tall, again, with the weight through the ball of your foot.
Just drop your hips straight down, so that your knee comes forward, then slide your hips across so your weight’s on your other foot and that knee is forward, and then rise up. Don’t lock your knee out.
So down, across and up, down, across and up.
Its almost as if I’m moving my hips through a U-shape or a box shape. Down across and up. And you practice this movement anywhere. On skis, off skis, at home. As you get more comfortable going through this motion and you’re being careful not to let your hips go back, you’re pressing your knees forward, you’re feeling the weight on the edges of your feet, on the balls of your feet as well, start to round out those corners. Instead of making it a box-like movement, try to smooth it out and make it more fluid.
As you become more comfortable you can change the tempo. You can go faster and really push yourself out over the side of your foot. Basically, you just have to practice it until it becomes a patterned movement that you can do automatically.
The next step is to put on your skis and poles. Find an area where there’s a gradual downhill. You want it to be really gradual. It depends how fast the snow is. If it’s really cold out and the snow is slow, find something a little bit steeper.
Don’t try to use your poles the “proper way”, just use them to control your speed. And you can use them as a balance aid if you need to.
Get yourself set up at the top of the slope. Get into the athletic position, knees forward. Practice that “One Skate Dance” movement while your standing still. Once you get the rhythm going, use your poles to control your forward movement. Just start stepping forward, gliding from ski to ski, doing that one skate dance dance.
Obviously you want to practice that a lot. As you do it you should be working on stepping onto each ski, keeping your weight over the outside of that ski, trying to balance on a flat ski. Don’t start moving so fast that you’re just riding on the inside edge of your ski. You’ll start to feel a stronger and stronger urge to push with each step. That’s fine. That’s completely natural. Just don’t start going so fast that your start rising on the inside edges of your ski.
You really want to work on getting as comfortable as possible on your glide ski and that’s more important than adding power at this point in time.