Hi guys. I'm a beginner who is starting to "get it". One thing I see the pros do is move their foot/leg forward on the glide ski. Instead of bringing the ski after the push-off phase under the body, they seem to move it forward, much like a track runner. Is the "soccer kick" that some instructional videos emphasize? If so, is there a drill or exercise to practice this. I like this sport and want to improve!
Thanks for your time!
Thanks for your question. It is a great question and what you are seeing refers to a discreet phase of the diagonal stride and is the result of a series correctly executed integrated movements. I am going to summarize your question using a series of video captures that I used in a technique presentation that can be found on my web site.
Obviously effective technique is not static and images only capture a moment in time ( each of these occurring in fractions of a second) in which the movements are executed.
The image series reads
from the far right Frame #1, to the far left Frame 7
Frame #1-Zero Position
- Hip high and forward of the ankle.
- Upper Body angled forward, projecting forward between 50-60 degrees.
- Body-Falling forward.
- Knees comfortably flexed.
- This body position is optimal for an effective kick, forward drive, and good weight shift.
Frame #2-Finish of kick and initiation of weight transfer
- Kick is finishing. Notice there is no dropping of the hips, down or back as the kick is completed.
- Body weight begins to shift into the new gliding ski.
- During the kick the recover leg, is actively driving (swinging) forward.
This phase includes a dynamic leg drive forward. I prefer to focus on driving the leg from a focal point on the mid thigh, not the knee or foot. This focus keeps the body moving forward and provides a stable body position for the weight transfer into the gliding ski.
Frame #3-Free Glide Phase
- Complete weight transfer into the gliding ski.
- Hips are moving forward
- All movements are directed forward and down the track.
- Knee angle is opening as a result of hip movement forward, not a lifting up.
This phase illustrates the complete weight shift, hips continuing to move forward and the leg drive continues forward.
Frame #4-Pole Plant
- Leg drive forward
- Hips continue to move forward
Note in this sequence the lower leg, ankle angle, is still in relatively the same position, as in the first three frames.
Frame #5-Poling while gliding.
- Upper body stays in the same position through the sequence for effective poling. The body weight is over the poles.
- Hips continue to move forward, causing an opening of the knee angle.
- Ankle angle begins to open up.
This frame begins to provide the answer to your question. Through all of the sequences up to this point the angle of the ankle was relatively constant. Now with poling forces supporting the glide the foot begins to move forward opening the ankle angle. I teach this movement as an uncurling of the leg. Note that stride length is a function of our moving speed, trying to force a longer stride will increase kicking time and cause the hips to drop down and back. Drive the leg as far as the speed will support, then allow the foot to continue moving forward, adding a bit to the glide and setting up for the subsequent kick.
Frame #6-End of glide phase
- End of glide phase
- Active poling
- Knee angle continues to open up.
- Foot has continued to move to its maximum forward position.
- Finish kicking leg is driving forward.
- Initiation of setting the ski for the kick by a pulling with the hamstrings which supports the hip moving forward.
Finally, at the end of the glide phase we can see the complete range of movements and correct body positions for effective kicking, poling and gliding.
Frame #7 Kick Phase
- Hip and body has returned to the Zero position.
- Maximal power exerted in the kick, down into the ski.
- Gliding leg is driving forward with no weight into it.
Key to this sequence is the forward body position, the maximal kick power, and the forward drive of the recovery leg. Of particular importance is when weight is applied to the forward driving leg. Depending on the speed this must occur forward of the kicking foot, and is more forward of the kick foot as the speed increases. I believe this timing is critical to achieving an effective weight transfer.
I do not have any specific drill to address this one small element of the over-all diagonal stride. I prefer to think about the progress leading up to the specific movements and what needs to occur for optimal speed and power. I hope that what you can gather from the images and description is the progression of movements required in good diagonal stride technique. I believe this need to be learned through a progression of skiing skills that include;
- Correct body position.
- Timing and integration of the poling and kicking movements.
- Achieving complete weight shift for optimal gliding.
- And, good balance on the skis.
By Jim Galanes for SkiPost jimgalanes.com/