/ Cross Country Skis - Classic or Skate?

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yorkshireman - on 17 Feb 2013
How much difference does the type of ski actually make?

I went for my first XC ski session a couple of days ago on our local trails and was given some 'classic' skis by the hire shop. I got on fine and by the end of the session was using them to skate with as well as I got a bit bored just in the prepared tracks.

My question is: if you have 'skate' skis, can you use them classic style too? Or do you really have to choose what type you want to do? I'd like to buy a set as there a few end of line deals in Decathlon at the moment and we've got another couple of months of season left but quite frankly I don't really know what I'm talking about.
JIB - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to yorkshireman: Skate skis propel you forward by the use of the edge of the ski, so that the 'pushing' ski is on its edge (herringbone shaped tracks on the snow). Classic skis use either scales or wax to grip the snow, so that the ski base is flattened on the snow and the scales/wax are gripping the snow to allow you to push forward (parallel tracks on the snow).

Options: There are combi skis which combine the features/compromises of both designs. If you are happy skating on a classic ski, why worry about buying skate skis? Before dedicated skate skis were developed, the racers used classic skis to skate with...

Other thoughts:-
It's not unusual to use a different length of ski for classic, than for skating.

There is - probably - nothing to stop you applying grip wax to a skate ski, although it would - probably - never function as well as a classic ski...

The usual caveats apply. The major difference would be in using skate boots offering more support for the ankles while skating, rather than the lower-cut classic boots...again there are combi boots which combine the features.

EwanR on 17 Feb 2013
Welcome to the world of proprietary standards and general incompatibility...

> My question is: if you have 'skate' skis, can you use them classic style too?

No. Classic skis have either a patterned section or a wax pocket that allows you to grip the snow. If the flex of the ski is correct then this will engage when all your weight is on one ski but when the load is spread between both then you should slide freely.

Skating skis have no such pocket and are designed to, as the name suggests, skate.

Last time I checked the boots and bindings were a nightmare as well with some designed for classic, some for skating and the odd one that suggested that it did neither well.

xrayspex - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to yorkshireman: Of course you can skate on classic skis, it makes a nice change of muscle groups! Classic skis are are longer and less stiff than dedicated skating skis, the boots are also less robust - skating fast and far will be easier with skating skis, and also for skating people use longer poles. Classic skis from a hire shop usually have fish-scales for grip going uphill, skate skis don't. This makes skate skis faster on the flat or downhill, but because of this you can't go uphill in a classic style on them. Classic skis without scales grip by use of the right types of wax, according to snow conditions, and in different parts of the ski (kick and glide?) - I don't know anything useful about this system. Presumably a waxed classic ski goes as fast as a skating ski downhill, but could you wax a skating ski and use it like a classic ski?

If I was living close to trails, I would probably buy skating stuff for regular training-type outings, and hire classic stuff (or Nordic touring?) from time to time if I wanted to go for a long day which would exceed my (quite limited!) skating abilities.
In reply to yorkshireman:

> My question is: if you have 'skate' skis, can you use them classic style too?

No, for the reasons Ewan said above. Skate skis are shorter than classics whilst the poles are longer. Of course you can skate for a bit on classics but it's harder and you'll soon notice your poles aren't right for that style. At least where I live, it's very rare that you'll find snow conditions where you can skate effectively without being on a prepared track (I was skiing on a lake last weekend where it did actually work well, but it's pretty exceptional). The boots are also different with most people prefering a much higher stiffer boot for skating. Also the Salomon Pilot binding system is popular for skating - but I don't think people use them on classics. This makes it complicated because it means there are TWO styles of Salomon binding, as well as the Rossiginol NNN and NNN-BC! Of course boots for one of the systems won't work with the others.

Back in the 90s there were "combi" skis and boots - indeed my skate boots are combis, but I've never used them with out the ankle stiffener. Most people came to the conclusion that combi actually meant OK but not fantastic for classic, shite for skating and I don't think you seem them much any more. My wife has a pair but doesn't like them much and only uses them classic style - besides anything else, waxing and unwaxing combi skis would be a total pain!

Track classic skis are pretty useless off track as well, but there are some models that start the crossover between tracks skis and touring skis
In reply to xrayspex:
> and hire classic stuff (or Nordic touring?) from time to time if I wanted to go for a long day which would exceed my (quite limited!) skating abilities.

Yep, actually skating (as opposed to herringbone walking) up steep hills is really effing hard! :-) I used to use a heart rate monitor - running, cycling and skiing - and my heart rate would get to ridiculous levels if I tried to skate uphill like the good guys do.
hillman - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to yorkshireman:
It will be the tracks that decides what style you should use. If your area has most tracks for classic, go for classic skis, and vice versa.

And it is possible to skate with your classic skis, it is much, much better than to use skate skis in classic style.
In reply to hillman:

> It will be the tracks that decides what style you should use. If your area has most tracks for classic, go for classic skis, and vice versa.

I've only xc skied in Finland but I've never seen skating tracks without classic tracks, but there are plenty of classic tracks without skating. Do you get skate tracks without the classics other places?
hillman - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA: You are right, I did an inadequate explaination.

My point was that it is the selection of tracks that will decide which style of skis that are the best for you.

If you have access to good skating tracks, then you can consider skating skis.
If it mostly classic tracks, then classic skis are the best choise.
yorkshireman - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to hillman:

Thanks for the comments everyone, as ever its never simple getting started! I think I'll stick with hiring for now - its just a pain not being able to get out early morning on a whim.

> It will be the tracks that decides what style you should use. If your area has most tracks for classic, go for classic skis, and vice versa.

Our tracks are mostly forest roads - you can get a 4x4 down most of them in summer so they're about 3-4m wide, and groomed corduroy piste (most of the time).

Some of them have the dual grooves for classic skiing but not all. We've got a few gentle hills but nothing huge so I would think it was suitable for both types.

I'd like to use XC skis as a valid replacement for running as I can't get the distance done in the winter, so even though skate is more cardio-intensive this might tick the right boxes for me anyway.

hillman - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to yorkshireman:
Good luck.
Myself I'm a bit spoiled by the tracks around Oslo. Within an hour I can reach 2600 km with nice prepared tracks like these. http://www.skiforeningen.no/img/publish/18700.jpg

This makes me stying alive while waiting for the outdoor climbing season - late March og early April.
Dave - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to yorkshireman:

From what you are saying about the local trails and why you want to ski I'd go for skate. I bought Combi skis once and it was a mistake, get the right ski for the job. There !s absolutely nothing quite as lung bursting as skating uphill and on good slippery snow on the flat nothing quite as satisfying for zooming along, except long distance ice skating.
yorkshireman - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to hillman:

Nice. I'm limited to around 30km of trails that look more like this: http://instagram.com/p/VgZ1UcMRNG/

So a little bit narrower but still good for skate by the looks of it. I'm stuck in London this week but looking forward to getting back out at the weekend so I'll try the skate skis.

Thanks for the advice everyone.
In reply to yorkshireman: As we're sharing ski track porn - here's my local tracks from back in January when the sun was out and it was proper cold! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151425595297959&set=pb.764542958.-2207520000.136126811...

Most of this month it's been a bit grey, damper and miserable though. :(
summo on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA: not sure quite where you are, but the next week is good in Sweden, but temps are rising a little next week, so I'm off skiing to make the most of it, spring could creep in quite quickly. Plus 2 - 4c forecast for much of southern Norway and Sweden, during the day next week.
In reply to summo:
> (In reply to TobyA) not sure quite where you are,

Just North of Helsinki. Cooling down a bit this week but still not super cold. It's ski holiday this week here (equivalent of half term) so am off with the family to central Finland (where the hills are a little bigger - although not much!) for a few days on the slopes and XC tracks. Weather looking nice for that!
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summo on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to yorkshireman: same here, sportlov. We got about 15-20cm fresh yesterday, down to about -20 towards the weekend. I can ski from my door, luckily, but off over to Norway for some alpine before things potentially change next week. It's tough, but somebody's got to it!

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