The “One Skate Dance” – For Getting Started in Skate Skiing [Video Tutorial]

[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=””] Updated: August 2017. This drill is for “getting started” it doesn’t teach you everything you need to know about One Skate. It teaches you the basic movements of one-skate at an elementary level.[/thrive_text_block]

One-Skate-DanceSummary: 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)

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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.

25 thoughts on “The “One Skate Dance” – For Getting Started in Skate Skiing [Video Tutorial]”

  1. Thank you very much for this tutorial you just published. I can get a V2 rhythm on a gentle downhill incline, but on the flat, forget it (well I can get a bit of a rhythm on the flat but it doesn’t last very long and it’s exhausting). I think this is a gentler exercise of the same method in one of your other videos where you extend your arms up as you transition your weight from one ski to the other. Always enjoy your tutorials.

    • Gary, have you tried roller skiing? I think roller skiing in the free technique is a great way to improve your skate skiing because the roller skis generally provide a longer “glide” and the effort propelling yourself is less. That gives a better opportunity to concentrate on the technique.

      • Magnus, sorry for the very late reply. No I haven’t considered that, mostly because I live in a busy suburban area. BUT, I could try that down on the paved portions
        of La Route Verte near Granby/Bromont. Thanks for the advice!

  2. You have a gift of keeping it simple. Greatness is simplicity and simplicity is a process of elimination. I always do better if I go back to things like weight shift, timing,loose , and extension. Thank you so much. Fred

    • Hi Fred – Thanks! I appreciate your comment because simplicity is one of my goals. I try to keep it simple because it was so hard for me to learn to xc ski.

      • This is an outstanding video…simple, elegant instructions are easiest to put into practice. Many thanks for the effort you put into the website!

  3. Thank you for excellent skate videos. Truly simple and you make it look so easy. I am a beginner skate skier, trying to learn a new sport in midlife is challenging to say the least! Your videos and easy to follow, encouraging drills are just what I need to not give up!
    Cheers and thanks!??

    • Hi Carol – I was in your shoes exactly and remember how hard it was to learn, but you will succeed. Everyone you see out on the trails started as a beginner too. Invest in good gear, play on your skis, ski without poles (especially uphill) and don’t offset everywhere! And, enjoy the process too :)

  4. Thank you very much for this wonderful lesson on the basics of glide for skate skiing.
    It seems so nice to observe that I am going immediately to train myself at home before to apply next weekend on snow. I guess I understand some key points.
    Last week I did skate skiing for my second try (alone) in 2 years but the difficulties were so high I was disappointed and exasperated on how to progress without courses.
    Your video should help me to find the proper position.

    Anyway I took a ‘PASS’ for the whole season so I have to learn now how to do. No way to stop!
    Thanks again to share this ‘easy look technique’ it may take me several years to get, but I am determinate to learn.

  5. Amazing video … I was having a really hard time with the V2 (on rollerskis)… I now feel more confident and am “dancing”, slowly but surely. ..I’ll sure stick it out.. thanks à million..Will come back on your site, you are a star..

  6. Hi Kim,
    It think this is awesome. I will try this with my skiers on roller skis tomorrow.
    I was looking for some new ideas online, I am stuck. Skating, hm. I will just get it done, go home. No way. They deserve better.
    They all know how to skate, I think I know how to skate, you get the picture. We have lots to work on and really forgot about basics. Somehow we always come back to that. And we need new fresh ways to “feel” technique.
    My skiers are young, want the best coaching. So I really do want to get back to this page tomorrow and tell you how it went.
    I want to do no pole skiing. Low, athletic stance, U shape, …the dance great
    Then some slalom for control, should be fun.

    • Hi Peter,

      I like this drill for getting people started. It helps them understand how they can use their body to power their leg push. And just the thought of “dancing” makes skiers think “fun”, “rhythm” and “relax”!

      One way I’ve progressed this drill is to emphasize skiers “work in the bottom of the U”, or I might cue them to try to stay lower and more flexed. Also, I mix in a lot of Double Pole work. This is to counter skiers focussing too much on getting high and extending their hips. I know that’s apparent in high speed racing, but I think it messes folks up to put too much attention on extension.

      I’ll look forward to hearing how it went and if you came up with any new variations! Thanks!

  7. Hey Kim,
    I’m really going to work on this technique this season in Angel Fire. ( When I’m not playing hockey).You explained/demonstrated things so simply that I’m sure I will be able to learn this. Thank you.

  8. Hi Kim – first the bad news, no snow yet in Durango, CO (though the long range shows some coming this week). Now better news. Your One-Skate Dance Video is excellent, and really explains/shows the technique clearly. I have been roller skiing without poles and concentrating on extending the glide on my weak side (left). I am getting by body weight well over the right ski, but trying to get equal body transfer (glide) on my left. I agree with you that the use of the OffSet is not helping the situation (with the OffSet, there is a tendency to get a very good glide on my strong side (right), but not getting well over the left (cutting it short). So, I am leaving the OffSet out of my routine and skating the hills with no poles (albeit slowly). I also am using One-Skate as much as I can, to pay equal attention to each weight transfer to each ski. Now, a related question: Do you think it would help with the weight transfer to the left ski, if I used an Offset trying to make the left ski my strong side?

    • Tough question. Convention would say that training your weak side would improve your balance on that side. In my experience my weak side was weak forever until I addressed it off snow, as an alignment problem, not as a “strength”, “proprioception”, “coordination” or “kinesthetic awareness” problem. But maybe that’s just my biases at play.

  9. Hi Kim, I wish to thank you sincerely, for your video. Its the simplicity and the manner in which you have listed down the steps involved in skate skiing, it’s simply splendid. I’ve been struggling with skate skiing every season. It was more of an ordeal, even today morning after an hour of skiing I felt I’m getting nowhere. I’m definitely going to do exactly what you’ve said and I’m certain it’s going to work out. Thanks once again Kim)

    • Hi Umesh – thanks for this kind message! I’m happy you enjoyed the video. Skate skiing is tough. It looks so smooth and graceful – like simplicity itself, but it’s not easy figure out the mechanics without help.

  10. Hi, Kim,
    thank You for great tutorial.
    Me and my wife will today practice your DANCE on beautiful slopes of our famous Pokljuka.
    Bye from Slovenia, the sunny side of the Alps.


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