Getting a grip on cross-country ski techniques

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After a couple of poor snow years, some cross-country skiers are finding themselves back on skis for the first time in a long while. The result can be a lot more slippin' and slidin' than they would like.

That's particularly true on sharp uphill grades, perhaps on refrozen snow. And while we're looking for excuses, let's throw in a less-than-desirable wax. Always blame it on the wax, I say, which is tough for me to pull off, since I use waxless skis.

Anyway, here are a couple of tips on preventing slipping on uphills, courtesy of the Eastern Nordic Division of the Professional Ski Instructors of America.

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1. Try curling your toes on the uphills. Dig them into the snow when using the diagonal stride uphill. EPSIA says this exercise helps to get your weight over the front ski where it is needed to set the ski and grip the snow.

2. Remember, if both skis are equally weighted, you'll slip backward. Concentrate on getting ''your best foot forward,'' says EPSIA. Make sure that the foot of your front, gliding ski is ahead of your knee. That helps you to ''kick'' down, or under you, instead of in back of you. Pushing down on that front ski will help produce traction. Pushing ''back'' just means more slippin' and slidin'.

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