The Many Forms of Skate Skiing

A brief terminology overview of the different forms of skate skiing: Diagonal Skate, V1, V2, V2-Alternate and Free Skate. Mostly, though, this is just to set the stage for learning the V1 Skate and the V2 Skate

fast skate skier

Basic Terminology

You basically have six gears when skate skiing. I'll give more details on these further on, but just to give a quick summary, your six gears are:

  • Granny Gear: diagonal skate. This is where you skate pushing wiht one arm and one leg at a time, as in the classic diagonal stride. It's more of a gliding herringbone. Most skaters won't use this, or at least not often. You sure won't see it in the Olympics. But if you're really tired and on a really steep hill, it might beat stopping altogether.
  • First Gear: V1. The foundation of all skating. One two-armed stroke for every right-left stride. Most non-racers will spend most of their time here (but not necessarily most of the distance).
  • Second Gear: V2. For when you're moving fast. One two-armed stroke for every leg push.
  • Third Gear: V2-Alternate. One two-armed stroke per leg push, but with the same timing as V2. So V1 cadence at V2 timing (more on this).
  • Fourth Gear: Free Skate. Usually in a tuck, skating downhill with poles tucked in.
  • Fifth Gear: Downhill tuck or rest tuck.

There's also the Marathon Skate, where you skate with one ski in the track and one ski out. Aside from various drills, most people don't really use this anymore.

These are all pretty easy to understand, except that the difference between V1 and V2 (and also V2 alternate) is not at all obvious.

The Difference between V1 and V2.

Okay, so V1 is one pole stroke per two leg pushes. So for each V your skis make in the snow, your arms stroke once. V2 simply means that for each V your skis make in the snow, your arms stroke twice. Simple enough, but there are subtle but crucial differences in the timing. I'll get into those in detail in the next pages, but in brief, in V1 the pole stroke extends the glide you get from pushing with the leg. In the V2, the pole stroke augments the push you get from the leg. For those who understand electrical circuits, V1 is done in series (foot, pole, foot), while V2 is a parallel circuit (foot/pole, foot/pole).