Skate ski clinic instruction - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-20-2016   #1
SW, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 90
Skate ski clinic instruction

I would like to learn how to skate ski and start off correctly rather than blunder along and try to fix technique later.

Got any recommendations for good schools/instructors, preferably in southwestern CO or at least western slope?

I did some classic x-c skiing long ago but have never tried skate skis. Am looking for the workout, not breaking trail in avalanche country or shuffling along on social outings, so skate skiing appears to fit the bill best. I just want to get a good taste of it before buying the equipment.

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Old 12-20-2016   #2
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 921
Go to your nearest Nordic Center and take a lesson, perhaps 3. Then buy a season pass and get a 'season rental' or buy one of last year's setups and you will be good. The closer you live to groomed terrain, the more economical it is, and the more likely you are to do it.

Even cheaper would be to apply for a job at said nordic center, you can then be paid minimum wage and likely get free gear (or worst case a pro deal) to learn with. Maybe even soup for lunch. This strategy presumes you don't have a job for the winter, but you will be rewarded with competency and great fitness after only one season.
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Old 12-21-2016   #3
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 493
I am a PSIA certified nordic instructor, teaching skate and classic technique for over 20 years. I strongly agree that the best path is to get some formal training from a qualified instructor. Skate technique is not intuitive and most self taught persons spend a lot of time unlearning mistakes.

Ski skating is very unique kind of propulsion, unlike roller blades or ice skates the real power comes from the weight transfer to the new ski, NOT from a strong push off your edges. Skating requires a groomed surface, it does not perform well on soft unpacked snow.

Have reasonable expectations about your progress. This is not something that you can pickup in an afternoon, most never ever skaters need at least one season to master basic hill climbing technique. Skating is especially hard on the beginner, you will need to get about 90% perfect on your technique before it actually starts to work. In contrast, classic skiers that have mastered walking can expect to get somewhere on there first ski tour.

Formal training in classic technique will build a foundation for skating and is much more forgiving to the beginner. I encourage my skating students to train classic as well. Note: skate skiing is a one legged balance sport. You are rarely balanced on two legs at the same time, so developing one legged balance is an essential building block. You will need to be able to balance gliding on one ski for 3-5 seconds before skating is possible.

The Eldora Nordic Center (my home resort) teaches more skating lessons than all of the other nordic centers combined, they also have the highest concentration of level III certified instructors in Colorado. My second choice would be Frisco or Breckenridge Nordic centers. Unfortunately I do not know of any good sources close to the SW corner of CO. The best instruction will come from the places that have the highest demand, that means Boulder or Summit County.

Be wary of non-certified instructors and advice from well meaning friends. There are a lot of good skiers that don't really have any idea what they are doing or why it works. Skating technique is new enough that the 'correct form' changes year to year and you will benefit from a well informed instructor.

There are some good sources on line (as well as some awful ones!) But be aware that you cannot learn from books and video alone. Skating can only be learned by doing. Here is a link to a some good reference videos....
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Old 12-21-2016   #4
SW, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 90
Thanks for the suggestions from both of you. Kengore, a lot of what you wrote sounds like learning to kayak...especially the nonintuitiveness of some things.

I am the type of person who is willing to work on "boring" building blocks for a long time, if the result is better technique down the line. Way back when, I used to make an oval track in a field and practice just the stride without any poles.

It sounds like a week spent at a ski center offering good instruction in both classic and skate might be a good way to start. At the very least, I would get a refresher in has been many years...and then I could start learning skate technique.

The high-demand centers are a long drive from home for lots of back and forth, but one round trip for about a week's stay would be reasonable. That should be enough exposure to let me decide if or what to buy. And then I could practice at a good area (groomed for both track and skate) that IS close to home.
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Old 12-21-2016   #5
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 493
If you are looking into an extended stay then I would give Snow Mountain Ranch a try. Located near Grandby Colorado. They have good instructors and offer lodging right on the trail through the YMCA of the Rockies. If you could talk some friends in to joining you could afford to rent a cabin. They also offer activities for the non-skier such as ice skating, tubing, and an indoor climbing wall.

Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park CO - YMCA of the Rockies
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