Cross-Country Skiing: Use Different Poling "Gears" As You Pick Up Speed

Dick Moss, Editor

First Gear—Arms Very Bent
First Gear—Arms Very Bent

As your skiers progress from a dead stop to full speed, their arms should straighten from a bent to a fully extended position.

Why? Because a bent position allows

Second Gear—Arms Less Bent
Second Gear—Arms Less Bent
the arms to exert more power, while a straight arm position allows the pole to remain in contact with the ground for a longer push once the skier is moving.

Gears Teaching Cue

Top Gear—Arms Almost Straight
Top Gear—Arms Almost Straight
You can convey this concept to your students by comparing it to accelerating on a three-speed bike, or even a car:

  • Tell them to start out in first gear, with the arms bent for lots of power.
  • They then switch to second gear, with the arms more extended but still bent.
  • Finally, once they are going almost full speed, they move into top gear and use an arm position that's almost straight.

Younger students can even add drag-racer sound effects to the gear changes as they practice.

1. J. Scott McGee, Basic Illustrated Cross-Country Skiing, FalconGuides, 2012.
2. Laurie Gullion, Ski Games, Leisure Press, 1990.

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