Classic Technique: How high should your kick be?

Posted by Andrew Newell on Feb 21st 2021

Classic Technique: How high should your kick be?

Dear Skipost,

Subject: Height of Tail Off the Snow in Classic Skiing


Could you address what the height of the kick indicates concerning an individual’s classic technique? Assuming a complete weight transfer and good shin angle on the gliding leg, does a greater bend of the knee (higher kick) in the follow through help or is it just styling?



Dear DS,

Height of the tail off the snow:

Big powerful classic striding is both old school and new school all at the same time. We can all picture a traditional classic skier pose with the tail of the ski off the snow, and although modern skiers are running hills more often these days, a good classic skier will still use this type of big striding technique on gradual uphill terrain. Effective lower body classic skiing is made up of two parts:

1.) the kick 

2.) the leg swing

A common mistake for intermediate skiers is to focus too much on the kick and thereby try to force a powerful kick without a fast dynamic leg swing. 

They need to be paired and timed well together. 

So is the tail height a stying thing? I say not if it's done well. 

The finish of one kick is the starting position of another, a pitcher can't throw a fast ball without a good wind up and a skier can't have a fast snappy kick/ powerful leg drive without starting in a position that allows for some forward momentum. The flatter and faster the terrain, the more time we have for this big leg swing-so our ski tails will be higher off the ground. Conversely, as hills get steeper, we need to shorten our stride and quicken our tempo so our tail height will get lower and lower to the ground as terrain steepens. 

I really think striding on flat terrain is a good way for skiers to practice quality weight transfer and snappy kicking. I recommend doing some striding drills on flats to train a dynamic leg swing and build into more gradual terrain to feel how much momentum can be gained from a powerful leg swing. 

Usually when skiers think more about the 'swing' and less about the 'pose' they will hit their wax pocket better and ski more efficiently.


Andrew Newell

US Ski Team // 4x Olympian

Nordic Team Solutions LLC

social: @andynewellskier