Classic Technique

A versatile technique that takes you places

Classic skiing is a great technique to try for your first cross country skiing experience. Traditional classic skiing involves the skis staying parallel whenever they are moving. It can be done on groomed trails or off piste. The three main techniques; diagonal stride, double pole and kick double pole are outlined in more detail below.

How do I learn?

Diagonal stride

The most basic technique used for going up hills and generally getting around when going slow. It is like walking or running, except that you glide in between each stride and push with each pole to help you extend that glide. It is a very natural technique, and often, in the beginning stages, the less you think about it the better.

Double pole

The double pole technique can be used on the flat and on slight downhills. Place weight on both poles and push down and back so that you end up bent at the waist, with your arms behind you. Use your core to activate the poling motion so that your arms are not doing all the work.

Kick double pole

This technique is used in between diagonal stride and double pole, usually on the flat or slight uphills. One leg kicks down and as both arms swing up to get your body up over the skis, then you double pole as normal.


A technique that is used to ascend hills as they become steeper. The rhythm is like a diagonal stride, except that you form a big V with your skis to stop them from sliding backwards and you don’t slide forward. If you glide while your skis are out at an angle, then you are skating. Which is fine, unless you are in a classic race.

Downhill techniques for XC skis

Snow plough

The most basic of all downhill techniques. Bend the knees and push out your heels so that your skis form an upside down V. The snow plough can be used to turn, slow down or stop. How fast you slow down depends on how much weight you put on the inside edge of the ski.


Tucking is the most aerodynamic position for going downhill in a straight line. To take up the basic tuck position, simply stand up and rest your elbows on your knees. Make sure you hold your hands up in front of your chest so that they break the wind and your poles point horizontally backwards.

Other types of downhill turns

All the turns that you can do on alpine skis can be done on cross country skis, from step turns to stem christies to parallel turns, and also telemarking, which is a special cross country turn. As your become more confident on downhills, ask your instructor or friends about other types of turns.

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