Joining the Skate Skiing Craze

By Beacon Staff

While cross-country skiing is centuries old, skate skiing has only been around for a little over two decades. Compared to traditional striding, skate skiing is faster—hence its lure with more speed thrills. “There’s been slow and steady growth in skate skiing,” says Laura Nugent, owner of the Outback Ski Shack at the Glacier Nordic Center. “It appeals to those interested in maintaining a fitness level outside in winter.”

Skate skis differ from traditional classic gear. They are skinnier and shorter with no grip pattern on the bases. Skiers use the inside edges for momentum. Ski poles are longer, too, reaching just above the skier’s lips. Using techniques akin to ice skating, the result is fast gliding on snow.

To skate ski, you can hack around trying to figure it out yourself, or learn tricks to make it easier. Next week, Flathead Valley Community College launches its adult cross-country skiing lesson programs, including skate skiing. “Lessons teach you to ski more efficiently and shorten the learning curve,” explains Nugent, who is also the program’s instructor.

Beginning Jan. 23, skate skiing lesson programs take place on Wednesdays at Glacier Nordic Center (Whitefish Golf Course). The four-session program, costing $44, runs for 90 minutes each day. The program targets both adult beginner skate skiers at 10:30 a.m.; intermediates who want to refine their technique meet earlier at 9 a.m.

For those who prefer traditional striding, FVCC also offers classes for beginners and intermediates in classic skiing. The traditional cross-country skiing program begins Thursday, Jan. 24, and runs for four weeks. The Outback Ski Shack rents both skate and classic ski gear for participants.

“It’s fun to fly like Mercury over the snow,” laughs Nugent. To register for the classes, call the Continuing Education Center at FVCC at 756-3832.