by Keith Nicol
The one-step double-pole (also known as the kick double-pole) is a difficult Classic technique for many skiers to master. As well, given that you don't see many people using this technique, the typical cross-country skier may not even know what it is. I typically describe it as a combination of diagonal stride and double-poling that is used on sections of trail where the skier might have too much speed for striding, but not enough for double-poling. Hence, usually recreational skiers will apply it on the flats, but racers will typically use it on slight uphills. This is because the fitness level of racers is such that they are traveling faster than recreational skiers on the same terrain. Although it is tough to learn, it has a smooth flow and rhythm that many skiers appreciate.
Let's begin by examining the basic one-step double-pole technique and then look at ways you can refine it to improve your power and speed. Before I teach this technique, I have my students perform some striding and double-poling so that I can gauge how useful this technique will be to them. For novice skiers with poor weight shift and weak double-poling, I will not teach this at all, since I know from experience that they will only become frustrated trying to learn it. For skiers who have good weight shift in diagonal stride and can perform a solid double-pole, I break this technique into three steps. In fact, should you need a refresher, in the Skitrax February-march 2015 issue, I wrote a column on improving your striding and double-poling, so refer to that for tips on those techniques.
The first step in one-step double-pole involves striding forward with one leg while at the same time bringing both poles up to double-pole (see photo 1). In the second step, complete the double-poling action while bringing the striding leg under the body (see photo 2). Next, recover your arms and return your body to an upright position, getting ready to repeat the first step (see photo 3). One key to this technique is to relax and not rush it. Often, skiers tend to hurry through this technique, never allowing themselves to stand tall, as shown in photo 3. Other skiers don't allow themselves to get a full weight shift and they begin double-poling too soon (see photo 4). Coordinating all these components in sequence is not easy and it takes practice to perfect it.
In the beginning, skiers often statically go through the actions. I then suggest simply saying to themselves as they ski down the track “Stride, double pole” (step 1), “complete double-pole” (step 2) and “stand up” (step 3), being careful to complete each step. Often skiers will alternate their striding leg so that both the left and right leg aid in propulsion. Once you have developed good timing, then begin to add more power and fluidity to the technique. I often find that skiers don't get much power from the legs in this technique and rely too much on their poles. To develop good leg power, I sometimes have skiers execute this technique without poles (see photo 5). Once skiers have developed a solid one-step double-pole, I then have them try to get more leg power by advancing one foot slightly ahead of the other foot before kicking off of it (see photo 6). Here my right foot is ahead of my left foot and I will quickly add my body weight to that foot before kicking off to maximize my power.
Here is a link to a Youtube video that describes the one-step double-pole: www. youtube. com/ watch? v= Znlc6rwWpnk. For help with any aspect of your Nordic skiing, seek out the assistance of a certified CANSI or PSIA instructor.
Contributor Keith Nicol has been on four Canadian INTERSKI demonstration teams for Nordic skiing. He holds CANSI'S highest instructor ranking in both track and telemark skiing. He has a popular Nordic skiing website at http://www2. swgc. mun. ca/~ knicol/ nordic% 20main. htm and many popular Youtube videos for improving your Nordic skiing (search k2nicol). He can be reached at email@example.com.