Learning How to Operate a Kicksled
(Our thanks to Jonathan
Thompson for this guide)
So, you bought your first kicksled
and now you want to know how to use
Basic kicksledding is
easy to learn. Just stand with one
foot on the runner, hold on to the
handlebar, and kick with your free
foot. For some, that may be as far
as they want to go toward becoming a
sparking master. Others, however,
want a little more speed.
Kicksledding is like
cross-country skiing. It’s easy to
just get out there and walk around
in the snow, but proper technique is
necessary to achieve efficiency and
speed. The “Kicksled Primer,” by the
Kicksled (Ketkupolkka) Club of
Helsinki, Finland gives a few
pointers on how to spark like the
“Don’t lean on the hands or the
kicking foot,” says the primer. The
sparker’s weight should mostly be on
the non-kicking foot.
you are an assaulting cheetah,”
recommends the primer.
the back and keep the torso
•Lift the foot high
in front, don’t swing your leg
straight, lift the knee instead (be
careful not to hit your nose with
•Your weight moves
slightly to the arms, but not to the
point of leaning.
•Bend support leg and
use weight to add power to each
kick. In a full effort kick, the
heel of the support foot detaches
from the runner.
hits the ground with the forefoot,
as if sprinting.
“The end phase of the kick is
•Kicking ankle should extend
•As the foot pushes
back, the sparker should bend mostly
at the pelvis and only moderately at
the knee, this will spare the
quadriceps of the
and will keep the center of gravity
“As the speed approaches maximum,
the free pendulum movement is not
enough for bringing the kicking foot
to the front.”
•Speed up the
leg with the hip and thigh flexors.
At this point, the kicking motion
begins to feel more like a rotating,
rather than a back and forth,
Always make maximal
use of the glide.
The primer recommends
swapping feet about once every 5
kicks. Swap more during high effort
and less during low effort.
frequency and shorten the kicks.
•Try to keep your knees straight to
avoid up-down pumping motion.
•Try the “jump swap”: Jump
immediately after kicking while
bringing the kick foot to the front.
Land the kick foot on the runner and
support foot down to
•If the hill is too steep,
get off and run.
•Put both feet on the runners, flex
the knees and use them as shock