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by Dimity McDowell

Just one day at a nordic center can help with your alpine performance. If you've never skate-skied before, don't fret: You've probably already done it in your alpine gear to get to a lift or gain speed on the flats. "Intermediate and advanced alpine skiers can pick up skating pretty easily," says cross-country guru Chuck Kenlan, head of the nordic center at Mount Bachelor. He recommends taking a lesson to ensure proper technique. But if you want to go it alone, here are a few tips:

  • Stay on flat ground for the first few sessions. Your improvement will be tangible; your frustration, minimal.
  • To avoid catching a tip, think about pushing off your heels, not your toes.
  • Avoid twisting with your chest, hips, and head-keep your weight driving over the inner edge of the ski on which you are balanced.
  • Concentrate on driving out over each ski with a relaxed, rounded upper body and a flexed ankle and knee-don't let yourself sit back like you're in a chair.
  • Rent the right equipment. Skate skis are 10 to 15 centimeters shorter than touring cross-country skis; poles should come to about chin height.
  • Once you have a solid grasp on the basics, aim for a consistent pace that keeps your heart rate at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum. "If you can be balanced and skate strong on skinny skis for an hour," says Kenlan, "You can alpine ski harder and longer. You'll notice improvement right away."
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