To skate or classic ski — that is the question

Ingrid Mitchell poses with one of each style — skate and classic Nordic skis. Photo contributed by Bruce Mitchell
Ingrid Mitchell poses with one of each style — skate and classic Nordic skis.
Photo contributed by Bruce Mitchell

As you incorporate Nordic skiing into your active lifestyle, choosing to go with the skate or classic technique can be a challenge. Outfitting yourself with quality gear in either mode is expensive, and jumping into both is beyond the budget of most skiers. Don’t fall victim to the myth that all new Nordic skiers should go with classic. Many people will find that skating is a better fit for their goals and abilities. Being informed can save your hard-earned dollars, and ensure years of enjoyment on the trails.

Whichever mode you’re considering, an astute first step is to rent equipment and take a lesson from a qualified (CANSI or CCBC) instructor or coach. This should ensure your initial experience is in a controlled environment, you’re learning proper technique, and will postpone the expense of purchasing gear. Also, some ski shops apply the cost of your rental to the purchase price of a ski package.

So, the big decision — skate or classic?

We suggest that you choose classic if the majority of your skiing will be off-piste, requiring you to set your own track.

Also, classic is a good choice if you’re new to sliding sports and haven’t alpine skied, Nordic skied, or ice skated, in the past.

Classic would also be ideal if you’ve limited fitness or mobility and are looking for a lower output activity, or if learning which kick waxes work for different snow conditions won’t intimidate you.

Lastly, classic would be best if you’re interested in participating in classic-only ski events like the Reino Keski Salmi Loppet or you’d like to participate (but not compete) in free technique events like the Kookaburra Cup, or the Overlander Loppet.

Choose skate skiing if you plan to ski on groomed trails or if you’re looking for a faster, higher output, aerobic winter fitness activity to include in your active lifestyle.

Skate skiing is the choice for you if you enjoy the feeling of sliding, and enjoy the possibility of going up to 20 per cent faster than classic skiing. Try it too if you’re interested in competing or participating in free technique events like the Holy Cow Loppet, or Kookaburra Cup.

Finally, if you don’t mind waxing for glide, but changing kick wax as temperature and conditions change sounds a bit more technical than you’d prefer, stick to skate.

Another good idea to consider is the type of skiing your friends already enjoy. You may not want to be the only skater or classic skier in the group.

Whatever your choice, skiing Nordic provides a healthy and exciting winter activity, and there’s no better place to do it than right here in your backyard. See you on the trails!