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  1. #1
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    XC Skiing as base training Classic or Skate

    I know most are going to suggest riding the bike weather it is indoors or outside or get a fat bike. however I really enjoy XC Skiing.

    I am currently riding about 5-8 hours a week and skiing 3-4 hours a week up until last week I was skating but then I tried some trails a little closer to home on the classic ski's and it was fun because it was a little more challenging to get the proper technique to climb hills and get some speed.

    What I am wondering for those of you who do ski in the winter which do you prefer skate or classic? And does one of them translate better to biking then the other?
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  2. #2
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    Skating! This is closest to cycling. I live in "winter-country", many top athletes do XC skiing as surrogate.

    However, do you aim for podium? If not do what's more practical and more fun. Classic is still a very good aerobic workout.

  3. #3
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    Reputation: Harryman's Avatar
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    Skating is closer in feel and way more fun than Classic.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harryman View Post
    Skating is closer in feel and way more fun than Classic.
    I agree 100%. I like classic, but skating is more fun and more like riding. Now If I can only develop halfway decent technique....

  5. #5
    zrm is offline
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    I live in snow country and I also have no real desire to go the fat bike route. I love cycling, but am ready to change over to skis when the snow starts to accumulate. I'm fortunate to live within a short drive of three great Nordic centers. We also ski many of the same trails we bike in the snow free months (only a comparatively few of which get packed enough for fat biking).

    I really don't know which one is better for bike training, if there is an appreciable difference at all. Both will work most muscles in your body which will help you go into bike season with a strong, but not overly bulky upper body and core. Both are about the best workout for your motor you can do.

    As to which I personally enjoy more, that's hard to say, I enjoy both but I'm probably a better classic skier than skater if I look at it from a competitive point of view. Classic certainly takes a lot of technique plus you have the art of grip wax (which doesn't have to be too complex to be adequate, it only becomes wizardry when you're talking about racing). Skating, to do it well also takes a lot of technique, but it's more subtle than classic. OTOH, anyone can shuffle along on waxless rental classic skis at a low level - it's not that different from walking - but just moving on skate skis will work you even if you're going slow until you grasp the fundamentals.

    When I was racing a lot, both on skis and bikes I'd take pretty much November to mid February completely off the bike, maybe a little indoor trainer time to keep some muscle memory in the legs, but no real seat time outside. Then I'd start ramping it up on the bike and tapering off on skis. My bike race season didn't start till mid or late May - starting bike season earlier would have meant starting the transition a little earlier, but I really didn't have much desire to start earlier than that.

    Another thing I have done a lot of that I think is a better leg match for cycling is backcountry skiing. It does take a whole 'nother set of gear, but it's a different kind of workout from Nordic. A lot of people here to the skin up the ski area thing before or after the lifts are running and that's a great leg and fitness workout too.

  6. #6
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    If I lived in a downhill ski town or had backcountry out the door, I definitely would be into the skin-up with tele or AT gear and climb the mountain -- both for fun and as the best cross-training for mtb racing. I do live quite close to a groomed nordic trail system and love to skate ski and find it a very good off-season training for mtbing. I expect that a good aggressive workout on classic skis would be just as good as skate skiing, but in my case my classic technique sucks and I don't want to deal with kick-waxing, so I skate ski exclusively (except when making a trip to a lift served area or an authentic mountainous back-country area). The time between when my nordic trail system becomes un-skiable and they become acceptable for mtbing is spent getting use to a saddle again on a road bike. Just as I get sick of the few paved road rides we have around here, the gravel roads dry out well and then when I get sick of them the trails are rideable. After 20 years, I think I've finally got the transition between "seasons" down...

    I have a friend who is very fast on any type of bike and he was on the Canadian Junior National Nordic Ski Team and skied division 1 in college. He now exclusively skate skis in the winter even though he's old enough to have seen skate skiing "invented" during his racing days, so he has great classic technique -- he just sees more return for his time skate skiing both in terms of time spent actually skiing and fitness.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  7. #7
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    I'm a classic ski guy for two reasons.
    1. I can do in anywhere (ungroomed trails).
    2. I suck at skating.
    It's really sad. I bought my skate skis over 15 years ago and they are still like brand new.

    Kick wax is a bit challenging, but it feels so good when you get it right. I keep it pretty simple and have 2 sets of waxable classic skis and run one with Blue wax and the other with special blue. That gives me coverage between about 15 degrees and 31 or so degrees without having to strip and rewax anything.

    As far as one being better training than the other for mtn biking, skating would probably get the edge there because I think it forces you more to push it, especially going uphill (it's a lot easier to go slow on classic skis). But ultimately, if you haven't been on the bike in a while you're going to notice it the first time you go ride regardless of how much skiing you've been doing. So I say just do whatever you enjoy.

    I'm just glad I have better skiing conditions right now than those poor Olympic skiers trying to get glide on 50 degree+ mush.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  8. #8
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    I find skate skiing too hard for "base", for me if I'm skating I'm going much harder than I should, but with classic, tempo is easier to control. When I slow down on skate skis I'm stopped. I also mix in skinning with tele skis and snowshoeing as both seem to build "stomp" power that helps when I get back on the bike.

    But really anything that gets you outside, and active will help bring up base fitness for summer biking.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbsbiker View Post
    I find skate skiing too hard for "base", for me if I'm skating I'm going much harder than I should, but with classic, tempo is easier to control. When I slow down on skate skis I'm stopped.
    Exactly. Skating is closer to pedaling, but it's hard to climb a hill at a "base training" level. I can do it now, but it took about 10 years to get there!

    I don't really care about which is closer to pedaling (that will take care of itself beginning in April, and it's fun to ride the fitness curve upwards every spring). I go pretty hard too often on the bike in-season, so I want to chill a bit in the winter, so 2 out of 3 times, I grab the classic skis!
    Whining is not a strategy.

  10. #10
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    My 2 cents:

    At the highest levels, both techniques take a lot of skill. However, getting really good at classic takes a lot of effort and work. The learning curve for classic is very long and shallow, while for skating it's shorter and steeper. Without some good coaching, I don't think it's possible to develop an efficient classic stride. To me at least, skating is in some ways
    more natural and easier to self teach. ( At least if you grew up in a "pond hockey" part of the world. )

    Bad technique will make either more work, but bad skate technique is a lot more work than bad classic technique. With bad classic technique you are just slow, with bad skate technique you are not only slow, but are also gassed.

    Which one works best for winter training should be whichever one allows you to go out for and hour or two, have some fun and not be completely gassed at the end of the workout. IMHO, if you can, do both to keep the interest and motivation up. What you do is a lot less important that how much you do when it comes to base training.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    ...........but bad skate technique is a lot more work than bad classic technique. With bad classic technique you are just slow, with bad skate technique you are not only slow, but are also gassed.
    Boy, that is the nail being hit right on the head!
    Whining is not a strategy.

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