The Difference Between Skate and Classic.
Classic skis are the typical form of cross country skis that most people picture when envisioning XC skiing. Classic style skiing is when the skis are parallel to one another and the skier performs a "glide walking motion" by pushing off on the planted ski and gliding on the other. Classic skiing is typically done in a track set; however, it is also done along trails and in the backcountry on touring skis. (Classic Skier pictured to the right)
Skate skiing on the other hand is a newer form of XC skiing that simulates a similar movement as inline skating. The skis are typically set in a V-shape and the skier propels themselves forward by pushing off in a skating motion and by pushing with the poles. Skating is the most popular type of skiing in a performance setting currently. Skating is typically done on a groomed and smooth surface. (Skate skiers pictured to the left)
So What Skis Should I buy?
We recommend that anyone just getting into the sport start out with classic skis. Classic skis will allow the skier to develop the correct balance and control of the skis before focusing on skate form. Although skate skiing can be a blast, it is typically much more enjoyable and easier to pick up once a skier has gained a decent amount of control on classic skis. People who start with classic skis, also, tend to develop better skate skills in a shorter amount of time than those who insist on jumping on a pair of skate skis from the get-go. Plus, classic skiing can also be a very enjoyable and efficient form of skiing.