Learning To CAT Ski 1-2-3
Start walking. You must become comfortable walking on the CAT skis before you can ski. It is imperative that you master the complete weight transfer, otherwise the skis will not work effectively.
A common difficulty occurs when you shuffle, or drag your feet on the ground. A shuffle is caused when you step forward and drag your foot on the ground instead of picking it up completely off the ground.
If you shuffle, the bungee cord will not release and shoot your ski forward for your next step. This forces you to miss the real glide portion of the cycle and you repeatedly hit the front stop of the ski, which is frustrating and inefficient. By learning to make the complete weight transfer, thus eliminating the shuffle, you will have much better kick up the hill, with less tendency to stall.
Slipping is another difficulty that can show up on both snow and CAT skis. Slipping occurs when you don't push down hard enough to "set your wax." Again, making that complete weight transfer and pushing down while thrusting forward will develop an efficient stride.
Don't start leaping ahead; there are still two more important steps.
Now you are ready to advance to a small step and a small glide, about five to six inches. This keeps the bungee tension low, which means that the ski will not shoot aggressively forward, delivering a loud "smack" to the back of your ski.
Take slow, small steps and glides, being aware of the weight shift that occurs as you naturally move your hips over first one ski and then the other. Try to align your clavicle and knee with the toe of the foot that is bearing the weight, leaving the other foot unweighted and free to be swung back and forth. If you are getting that "smack," make your strides and glides smaller. Also, try not to pause after pushing off your ski. Instead, bring your now unweighted foot forward as the ski shoots forward.
As you get comfortable with the small steps, gradually thrust your knee forward with greater force. Easy does it! A little extra knee thrust over the ski will get the glide going, which can challenge the dynamic balance you've been working on. Increase the length of your step and glide to only five to 10 inches. Let your hips rotate a little. As your confidence grows, the greater knee thrust and hip rotation will naturally lead to a longer stride. You will know you are doing it right when it feels like being on snow.
Now that you are moving along at a good clip, it's time to learn how to get safely down those hills. Slow down, lean back a little and let the ski gradually slide forward until you hit the front. Come to a complete stop with each step. This will give you maximum control. On hills with only a slight grade, you will eventually be able to continue skiing downhill. In this case you may choose to slow your descent by dragging the back ski. The more you drag that rear ski, the more control you maintain.
Control, in a broad sense, is really what the CAT skis provide. You can train or just work up a good sweat, no matter what the conditions, the topography or your fitness or skill level. Here is the way to realize one dream of every skier - the never-ending ski season.
A video demonstration of CAT ski technique is posted on www.crosscountryskier.com and additional information is available at www.catskier.com.