Contributing Editor for the Master Skier
Scott is a former member of the Factory Team and US Ski Team.
What we are trying to accomplish through no-pole skating is to increase our skating efficiency.
Training without poles helped make Kate Underwoood a top racer.
When skating without poles you should be focusing on:
• Powerful pushes using both legs equally.
• Maintaining a good flex in the ankle and a good bend in the knee
• Staying up and forward in the hips (no squatting!)
• Keeping the leg pushes directly out to the side (not behind you)
If your legs aren’t efficient, this will be made apparent when you drop your poles.
Since the main goal of no-pole skating is to become more efficient with your legs, I believe that your arm motions are of secondary importance here.
Here are three different no-pole skate techniques, each works equally well. Remember that with each version the most important thing is to maintain the qualities I listed above for efficient skating legs.
No-Pole Skating with Poling Imitation
In this version, simply swing your arms the same way you would if you had poles.
Change your skate technique as you normally would as the terrain varies. V1 and V2-alternate tend to be the most fluent, but practice your V2 as well.
In this no-pole version you should really be able to feel the importance of coordinating your arm swings with your leg pushes. Try to find that synergy and use it.
No-Pole Skating with No Arm Swing at All
A good way to do this is to hold your hands together and pointing forward with your arms slightly bent. Your hands should be pointing directly down the track all the time.
This technique really focuses on your legs since you have no arm swings to help with your momentum and weight shift.
Try to avoid too much upper body twisting. Shoulders should remain squared with the track (along with your hips).
No-Pole Skating with Poles Held Behind Hips
Put your poles together and hold them against the back of your hips with one hand holding the poles on each side. The poles should be pointing directly across the width of the track, perpendicular to your direction of travel.
What you are aiming for is minimizing the twisting of your hips (which is amplified by the motions of the poles).
Not only does this drill eliminate the help of arm swings but it also helps teach you to keep you hips squared.
If you are skating without poles up a gradual hill and the poles on back of your hips are twisting a lot it usually means that your leg pushes are not going directly out to the side but are happening a bit behind the line (poles) going through your hips that are perpendicular to the direction of motion.
A tip to help correct this problem is to try to keep the ski moving forward through each push. Try to put a little forward acceleration on each ski as you are pushing off. This keeps your leg in front of you (not behind) and reduces the twisting of the hips.
Remember that in skating (as opposed to the classic diagonal stride) the skis never come to a complete stop, especially during the pushes. Think slippery skis!
Once you get a good sense of when (or if) your hips are twisting too much using the third no-pole drill, try to maintain your squared hips in all your skate techniques. This is what will enable you to float instead of fight your way up hills.
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