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Garmin Quietly Rolls Out Cross Country Skiing Power

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For those that sifted through their junk mail folders over the past few weeks, you might have seen an e-mail from Garmin announcing cross-country skiing power, akin to cycling power, but more in line with how running power data is generated using a bunch of calculations.

Oh, wait, you didn’t get the e-mail?

Neither did I. But…a loyal DCR reader did – and forwarded it on to me. And turns out, after confirming with Garmin, said e-mail apparently only went to Fenix 5 users, perhaps enticing them to upgrade to the Fenix 6 where the feature is offered (alongside the Forerunner 945 and a few other latest gen watches). Yesterday also saw Garmin MARQ users get notified of the feature being available. I assume other users will start receiving that e-mail soon too.

Now the real kicker is that this feature was actually quietly slipped into the software back in August, except, with the new HRM-PRO chest strap released last month to light it up, nobody would have noticed. Adding to that is that very few locations have cross-country ski tracks and viable snow in September, so the number of people that met all those conditions to ‘stumble’ upon this new feature would have been slim.

Oh – and as you probably just inferred from the previous paragraph, this new feature does indeed require the new HRM-PRO chest strap. So, let’s get digging into how it works.

How it works:

Canmore

Now, I’d love to be able to show how this works in-depth and on skis, except, I’m missing a few things…notably, snow. Or alternatively, the ability to travel to snow. Further, I lack cross-country skis, or boots. While many DCR readers know I have a deep appreciation for skiing (I dare you to not get lost in all those old posts stretching back a decade), I prefer my skiing to primarily be composed of descending.

So, for now I’ll show you some of the basics from a concepts standpoint, and then talk about some further details from the team behind it.

In any case, here’s what you need:

1) A Garmin HRM-PRO chest strap
2) A Garmin FR945, Fenix 6 Series, Quatix 6 Series, Tactix Delta series, or MARQ Series watch (on a semi-recent firmware version)
3) Snow & Skis

To get started you’ll want to ensure your HRM-PRO is paired up and enabled in the sensor settings:

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Once that’s done, then start one of the two XC Ski Profiles: XC Classic Ski or XC Skate Ski. If you haven’t used these before, you’ll scroll down a bunch in the usual sport start menu, and you’ll see the option to add a new sport. Scroll down until you can’t scroll anymore, and you’ll have found XC Skiing.

DSC_0989

Then go ahead and launch the sport. As soon as the HRM-PRO is connected you’ll see the new ‘Power’ field. If you don’t see it on your default screen, press up/down to change data pages to the screen that shows it.

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Now, go ski. Like this:

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That’s actually a picture I took many years ago, back before the blog. And it’s never seen the light of day, because…well..what on earth am I going to do with hundreds of biathlon photos? I don’t know. So, now at least one photo got its 15 seconds of fame. Even if it’s not a particularly compelling photo.

Now, as you’re skiing along, you’ll get instant power displayed, just like this:

SkiingPower3

It’s no different than any other power value on a Garmin watch, and in fact, unlike running power this actually gets put into the proper ‘power’ data field by Garmin, so any app that shows cycling power can show it.

After your ski session, you’ll see your power data listed in Garmin Connect Mobile (as well as Garmin Connect online). This was just obviously a very short test to understand how the data gets piped, but you can see it here:

SkiPowerGCM1 SkiPowerGCM2

Even lap summary data has power listed for each lap – just like it would in cycling:

SkiPowerGCM3

Also notable, it’ll show up on the watch itself in the summary stats, just like calories, distance, or pace, or any other standard metric.

Still, after my walk/run loop around a local trail, I had a bunch of questions. So I reached out to Garmin to get a pile of answers from the team behind it. And it turns out the team that does the skiing power is the same team that does Garmin’s running power. They tend to do a lot of sensor and algorithm-driven projects/products. But most notable is that team is based up in Alberta (Canada), and specifically that they’re just a quick drive to the Canmore Nordic Centre, which is where many Canadian Olympic Cross Country Skiing athletes train. It’s also randomly been the home for many outings at the ANT+ Symposium over the years. Also, it’s the header picture for this section – I took it two years ago.

In any case, the point there being that Garmin apparently worked last winter with athletes out of the Canmore Nordic Centre to test the algorithms.

Now, I had a bunch of questions for them. So rather than wrap needless text around them, let’s just go into Q&A fashion:

What’s the general overview of how the sensors work together here?

At a high level, Garmin is using the sensors within the HRM-PRO to determine when you’re gliding versus when you’re actively pushing off, and then uses that as the basis for a portion of their overall calculation of ski power. Garmin notes that you’ll start to see the most accurate power metrics after you’ve done a handful of longer glides (greater than three seconds).

Is elevation taken into account?

Yes, like with running power, elevation does impact the calculations – so as you go up an incline it takes more power, and down a hill takes less power.

Does the skier’s inputted weight impact the results?

Yes, weight is important for the calculations.

Is wind accounted for in the calculations?

Sorta. They aren’t leveraging nearby weather stations like in running power, but are looking at it as part of the whole system of things that ‘slow’ a skier down, such as poor snow conditions (e.g. warmer/wet snow), snow depth, wind, and of course incline.

Is it written to the standard power data field?

Yes, in fact, you can see it in apps that support ‘power’ as a defined field for that sport. For example, I see it listed in TrainingPeaks for my workout. Whereas inversely, Strava doesn’t support showing power for the XC Skiing sport. Below, showing it in TrainingPeaks, still defined correctly as a XC Ski workout.

image

Which sport profiles does it show for?

Both XC Classic Ski and XC Skate Ski, it does NOT show for XC Backcountry Ski.

Does it capture cadence or stroke rate or such?

No, not at this time.

Is it sensitive enough to use to determine the optimal wax to use for a given set of conditions?

Kinda. Indirectly yes, but not directly. Meaning Garmin doesn’t exactly know why you’re going slower – it could be simply because the snow has gotten deeper. Or, you skied through a puddle. Or wind kicked up. However, if you were on a windless day on consistent snow for the entire track, then in that scenario you probably could use it to make some observations around wax because your ski power will increase with the wrong wax, and decrease with the right wax.

Wrap-Up:

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Now, this is undoubtedly interesting for cross country skiers, at least assuming you’ve got the right watch and an HRM-PRO. And speaking of which, I am still struggling to understand why something like a Fenix 5 Plus isn’t at least supported here. After all, Garmin would still get you on the upsell for the HRM-PRO strap (which costs $129). But setting that aside (because, let’s be honest – that’s just the way Garmin rolls), it’ll be interesting to see what people can discern from this data. While I can discuss the ins and outs of running power to a painful degree based on years of trying different devices, there really isn’t that precedent for skiing power. At least not in widespread use anyway. There’s been Racefox on Polar devices, but that costs ~$120/year plus you need the Polar H10 strap – so that’s another $90 (though, less than the Garmin HRM-PRO).

There’s also Proskida (also…Canadian) that demoed some aspects of their app which used a sensor at the wrist strap of the ski pole, which is obviously much different than a chest-based sensor. But propulsion in skiing comes both from pushing via your poles, as well as pushing via your skies (such as skating). Plus, there’s external elements like snow friction based on temperature (colder harder snow has less friction than warmer wet snow), and of course the slope incline.

I wouldn’t even begin to know how to validate all these variables outdoors. In the same way that running power meters haven’t really defined what exactly running power is, many companies (including Garmin and Stryd) measure that differently, and have differences of opinions on exactly what is included in that power value.

In any event – if you’ve got all the right things to use this feature, go forth – I’d love to hear how it works out for ya, especially after a bunch of workouts over time and different conditions.

Thanks for reading!

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105 Comments

  1. Caspar Vredenbregt

    I’m sure you could get your hands on a pair of those short xc ski’s on wheels that you can use in the flat polders. Would give some real testing data!

  2. Gary Dobbas

    Hi
    I have Fenix 5 and it seems that their are no new updates for the 5. But the problem is I paid about $550 & the need to buy a new watch every two years for a Garmin Fenix to get the new apps or widgets seems just wrong. Thanks

  3. Nelson Diogo

    Just can’t understand why Garmin doesn’t make all possible updates available to older devices. A Fenix 5 could possible receive this, Track Mode or Widget glances.

  4. Luke

    I was so excited for ski dynamics and I probably would have happily shelled out the $130 for yet another chest strap to accompany my fenix 6. But where’s the dynamics? This is just one dynamic and one I probably wouldn’t ever use.

    Things like glide distance/time, polling time, cadence, poll vs leg power balance, could really be helpful for finding inefficiencies and improving your technique.

    The killer data point would be to identify which sub-technique is being used at the time (V1, V2, skate tuck/ stride, DP-kick, DP). Then you could overlay that onto your route map and also see what grade is triggering your technique change. to take it one step further your watch could calculate the most efficient technique for the current grade and alert you to change if you are not doing the most efficient.

    Is that asking a lot?

    • GLT

      +1

      There may be only so much two accelerometers & lap button can accomplish. Being able to retroactively annotate the Activity data on GC at the “lap” level could be tolerable. That is potentially a lot to remember and the lap button isn’t that convenient to begin with. Action cam?

    • Johannes

      They could also use the Accelerometers in the watch for Cadence and V1, V2 (in Combination). Works for example fine doing indoor rowing on my waterrower too.

    • Luke

      My watch alone can correctly guess when I’m doing push-ups and give an accurate count to within 1 or 2 reps. I’m sure there is a lot to these algorithms and that identifying strength exercises has a broader appeal but the various sub-techniques look so different that even a non-skier could easily tell when the technique changes by watching.

  5. Benjamin

    I’m usually loath to point out typos when I see the effort that you put into your reviews, but in this case, I’ll point out that in the “you’ll need” section, you also need skis in additional to the snow (and skies, but you can’t get away from those).

    Thanks again Ray!

    • Michael H Stangeland

      “I’m usually loath to point out typos” 🙂

    • Speaking of typos – don’t you love that you can’t edit a comment to fix your fat fingering?
      Like Hotel California – your comments can check in but they can’t check out. grin

    • “Speaking of typos – don’t you love that you can’t edit a comment to fix your fat fingering?”

      Hi Nigel-

      Ask and you shall receive. Just implemented today after your suggestion, for DCR Supporters. Let me know how it works out. 🙂

      Thanks for being a DCR Supporter!

      Cheers!
      -Ray

  6. Michael Herald

    So they added Skiing Power but no Running Power support? Didn’t even know Skiing Power was a thing. I have a feeling they will add running power support in ConnectIQ 4.0 devices and force people to upgrade if they want it.

  7. Joseph

    I am wondering if this can be adapted to in-line skating. The basic mechanics are very similar between the two. I wonder what garmin has to say about this. I have tried to use my polar foot pod and garmin fenix 6 with my skates in the past but I have not way of determining the accuracy. I also know there is a widget for inline skating.

  8. Aldo

    As someone who volunteered in Torino 2006 (not in Biathlon, but in Alpine Skiing), I can easily recognize when and where that picture was taken. 😉

    About your preference for alpine instead of XC, I think you could enjoy more the second, since your like endurance summer sports. Maybe a nice XC venue would change your mind (which is more difficult to find, I admit, since usually they are more hidden and have less infrastructure than the alpine ones).

    • Paul S

      But the point of XC is that you don’t need “venues”. I’m sure there are places in Amsterdam he could ski, provided there was enough snow. Personally when I get to ski (not at all last winter due to lack of snow), I’m either skiing laps in the local park (I can easily walk there) or skiing on snow covered roads/trails up in the mountains (which I have to drive to). Nothing is groomed, and I can only hope that someone else has already broken trail. If Garmin has only tested this on groomed classic trails or packed down skating trails at the Canadian Olympic center, I’m not sure how useful it would be to me or many other XC skiers. But since this isn’t coming to my Fenix 5+, I’m not going to get a chance to find out anyway.

    • Michael H Stangeland

      Breaking trail might be considered “Backcountry”. Which is not supported as per the “Which sport profiles does it show for?” category

    • Paul S.

      Then Garmin should say something like “this is intended only for waxable skis on machine groomed trails”.

  9. Achim

    Will it work on roller skis as well? Same movement, just a little bit less friction because wheels are more efficient than skis?

  10. Yoeri Geerits

    Great to see the Canmore Nordic Centre background! Amazing venue for winter and summer sports!!
    Thanks for sharing this update! Good to know!

  11. karl

    “I prefer my skiing to primarily be composed of descending.”

    So gravity assisted vs. high energy, the analogy a fellow skier once provided me.
    Sounds similar to only biking down hills. 😉

    Gee, Garmin, you could have gotten me to impulse buy a HRM-PRO at $180 CAD, but since my watch doesn’t support it , I’m gonna pass on this one. I guess you don’t see value in having more existing Garmin users who are also XC skiers using and raving about your features; sales must be too good to want us promote you even more.
    I have far more Garmin hardware than Apple hardware, the two main ecosystems I play in.
    My 4.5 year old iPhone is still running the latest iOS 14.1 very well with all the newest features (that its hardware can support). My Garmin watch is newer and obsolete; it isn’t the latest model, so it doesn’t get any new features.

    • “So gravity assisted vs. high energy, the analogy a fellow skier once provided me.
      Sounds similar to only biking down hills. ;)”

      True, though ironically, I actually prefer biking uphills, mostly cause I suck at descending, but am a reasonable climber (well…was, before I moved to a place that the largest hill was a highway overpass).

    • BerenV

      I’m in the same boat as you with Apple/Garmin hardware and the old SE! (I’m assuming) It does seem strange that they only support a few higher end watch models, but since I have an FR945 they might tempt me into shelling out the money for an HRM-Pro 😬

      My guess is that they’ll implement more metrics over the next few years so you might be better off just waiting to upgrade your watch 😉 Or they could eventually roll out support to the other models but they historically haven’t wanted to give that many cheaper/older watches running dynamics support 🧐

  12. Pavel Vishnyakov

    I wonder why there are separate Classic XC Ski and Skate XC Ski. A watch can distinguish between different swim strokes – sure it will be able to distinguish between classic ski and skate ski!

    • I suspect for the same reason that hike/run/walk/trail run/etc could all be the same sport. Purely for human separation in Garmin Connect/etc…

    • Paul, Classic and Skate have completely different leg – ski motions, poling method – upper body motion. Also use different skis with different construction, lengths. So the way “Power” would be registered is completely different.
      1. Classic are double camber – you press “kick” the grip zone to the snow until your leg is stretch enough to unweight the ski and glide. They are also longer.
      2. Skate is done with the inside edge of the ski then glide. Along with a lot more poling variations.
      The rules were changed for Classic to get away from “double pole only” races.
      How the FIS rule regarding the pole length effects http://www.worldloppet.com › how-the-fis-rule-regarding-the…
      Nov 8, 2016 — The FIS announced a new rule to save the classic technique in cross-country skiing. According to this new rule, the classic poles are not allowed to be longer than 83 % of the total body length (on boots). This rule should force the athletes to use classic technique and not only double poling.

  13. Niklas

    Nice uppgrade. Does it work for roller skies as well?

    Anyhow, it is usefull info for analysing after a ski run, but hardly useble during the xc-skiing it self, since you using the skipoles all the time.

    • It should work for roller skies – it works for me with Skike, CAT ski. You get a couple of options for the Power value to display – and it is real time. A big selling point for the 8 field screen.
      Ski Power works when one is using the X-C Classic app and Skike all terrain roller skates- available around the world. It also works with CAT Ski, http://www.catskier.com, all terrain dryland X-C ski. I get a Power report on my Garmin Connect activity when I use X-C Classic with either of these. Now to try X-C skate and the Skike with a skating motion.
      At Garmin as: Cross-Country (XC) Ski Dynamics  support.garmin.com/en-US/?faq=oHbDqNJFHN2Uqyj6NS99l5
      This post got me to order a HRM-Pro. Back when an earlier DC post said the Fenix 6x Pro Solar was on-sale, I had gotten one.

    • Paul S.

      I would think it would work, but the one thing I worry about is that maybe Garmin has put sanity checks in its algorithm. I’ve never used roller skis so I don’t know if they have an extra source of friction to better simulate skiing over snow or are they just rolling along on modern low friction bearings? I could imagine that Garmin coders might say something like “the snow friction can’t in reality be that low, so lets put a floor on the coefficient of friction just in case our algorithm is computing ridiculously low values”. Since Garmin isn’t going to tell us anything about the algorithm, the only way to find out is to try it and see if the power numbers on roller skis seem too high. When you’re computing power from an algorithm and not anything that can remotely be considered a direct measurement, you’re at the mercy of your assumptions.

  14. Will

    Thanks for the intetesting article.

    How do you think they’re compensating for different snow condition and frictional losses? It’s seems a bit vague.

    Will the new S2 scales ever be used not just to update weight but approximste skier shape and hence cross sectional area and finally coefficient of drag of the skiier. I imagine height and clothing type are more significant though. Interesting times.

    • “How do you think they’re compensating for different snow condition and frictional losses?”

      They’re not. Directly anyway, meaning, they don’t know/care that the snow is slower, they just know it’s less efficient. They could be due to wind or wet snow. But ultimately it impacts their algorithm and determines that your power output is higher to maintain the same speed. In the same way that fluffier clothing (like with cycling) would impact aero, that too shows up in terms of more resistance on the glide. Note how accuracy improves with longer glides.

      They’re somewhat vague on purpose, it sounds like trying to protect some of their IP/algorithms at this point.

    • Will

      Some clever approximationd to physics I’m sure.

      As I understand it, a key difference between direct force power meters in bikes and accelerometer based power meters in running and now skiing is that these can’t measure force. They make approximation to the biomechanics, inefficiencies and other losses to hypothesize power. In running power once you run in deep snow or sand the biomechanics changes too much for the standard equations to hold true.

      Garmin are obviously smarter than me, but being open about intended use and edge load cases would improve confidence in the product. Because unlike bike power meters there’s no method for the consumer to validate the precission or even precission.

    • Will

      ^ precission or even accuracy

    • Paul S

      It’s a bit more complicated than that. Mr. Newton tells us (correctly) that F=ma, so if you know the acceleration and the mass, you know the force on the accelerometer. Trouble is, that’s not the force you’re interested in. Riding (skiing, running, etc.) at a constant velocity on a flat surface, the total force is zero (no acceleration). But no one cares about that. What you’re after is a measure of the effort you’re making, so you’re interested only in the forces that you generate to overcome opposing forces due to wind, friction, grade, etc. Those forces for skiing could be measured, I suppose, by strain gauges in bindings and poles, but Garmin wants a way to do it without going to the pole and bindings business. So they have some algorithm they’ve cooked up. As to how well it works, even with bike power meters an individual consumer has no way of actually knowing, aside from some vague limits. For example, if your power meter tells you your NP is 1000 w, something is wrong, but if its 250w, is it working or not? If you’re Ray, you have lots of power meters and you can compare them, but most of us don’t.

    • Will

      Thanks for the reply.

      As with running power, ski power will never be validated. But it will need to be precise under most use cases. That way the data will be available.

      Ski power is now in the hands of the consumer. So lots of trial an error will follow as people learn what to do with the numbers, and when to ignore the numbers.

      Even after decades of cyclibg power there’s debate over ftp protocols, training zones. Run power is still developing, mostly being lead by Stryd. And now ski power for the masses is born. Great times for consumers.

    • Raul V

      Several meters give possibilities but not across sports. Only across devices or ‘just 1 variable’ situations. The only thing that’s an indication is HR. But nothing absolute.

    • Forrest

      You can validate your bike PM. I use Vectors, you hang a known weight from the pedal and verify the torque reading. Cadence can be validated with a $20 sensor or a stopwatch. Other power meters have similar procedures.

  15. Sander Riedberg

    There is a Swedish company called “Racefox” that uses a chest-band to get insights in both running and ski power. As I’ve understood it uses accelerometer data to calculate it. They do have their own “Smartbelt”, but the interesting thing is that they can also use the Polar H10 hardware.

    Racefox website: link to racefox.com

  16. Hi Ray,
    You should go to Gouda , grab some cheese and skate some loipes.
    They have a training loipe for testing.

    link to langlauf.nl

  17. Dave Lusty

    I agree about the Fenix 5 Plus, another disapointing omission from Garmin. Surely given the software standardisation these days it would be cheaper to have one firmware and switch features on and off based on hardware support!

    Anyway…my question which maybe I missed. Given that the HRM Pro is just a HRM Tri with Bluetooth, why on earth are they forcing that upgrade? Don’t get me wrong, I need to buy a new strap anyway because my Tri is falling apart, I just don’t understand why this isn’t a firmware tweak. I’d love to read/watch an intervoew between you and someone at Garmin discussing this whole upgrade/software thing and why they do what they do. I assume some bean counter has an Excel somewhere that’s telling them this way lies profit while ignoring that the very second the Apple watch is good enough (and maybe adds a stylish version) every one of us will abandon ship!

    • Paul S

      I won’t. I own both an Apple Watch 5 and a Fenix 5+. Garmin doesn’t have anything to worry about. Two different devices for two very different uses. Each does what the other is really good at very poorly. It’s been years now, and it’s pretty obvious that Apple isn’t trying to compete with Garmin, or vice versa. (Not to mention that the Apple Watch is useless to anyone without an iPhone.)

  18. MatevzH

    Hmmm… doesnt HRM-TRI have the same sensors as HRM-PRO (like running dynamics transmission etc)? Though, it is still required to us HRM-PRO. Probably for the same reasons as F5 watches aren’t supported.

    • I don’t believe the HRM-TRI/HRM-RUN have gyro in them, whereas the HRM-PRO does. Also, looking at some of the e-mails back and forth from yesterday with Garmin, they mentioned it also having a ‘mag’ inside, presumably magnetic compass – but I’ll need to double-check that.

    • Capo

      Just suprised about the gyro you mention here as this is not mentioned in your “Garmin HRM-PRO In-Depth Review”. Neither compass is.
      I was forced to buy a new HRM-RUN2 recently as the old one stopped working, so I am very sad now I didn’t take Pro as I will be missing this power feature 🙁

    • Yeah, yesterday was the first I’ve heard of it as well. I’ll do some more confirmations.

    • Dave Lusty

      That seems fair enough if there is new hardware. You’d think they’d have mentioned it to you for the review of the Pro though, don’t they know who you are?! 🙂

    • Yeah, it was a super busy few weeks leading up to that, with a million devices dropping – both from Garmin and others.

      I’ll get clarity on it (just in case perhaps the HRM-TRI or something does have it).

    • Rich

      Could the RD Pod not be used as a sensor for this too?

    • Jens Christoffer Gjølme

      Do you have any update about this?

  19. Thomas

    Think this will come for indoor SkiErg?

    • Stefan K

      My SkiErg already gives me the power data from the machine without external sensors. But if you also want your Garmin to capture it I think it would be the same as for classic XC mode. In the other hand – if you are looking for a way to get your SkiErg workout into Garmin or Strava, I much more prefer PainSled as a tool since you get the right data from then PM5 in continuous mode, saved to Garmin/Strava/Trainingpeaks and other platforms.

    • Rich J

      What does Painsled get you over just having the logbook push it to Strava?

      I get power data to Strava for my Concept2 rows and skis, but Strava doesn’t seem to do anything with it.

    • Rower Ergsalot

      ErgIQ works nicely from the watch, but you won’t get native fields populated for Cardio (skierg) or Indoor Row (rower). It’s all CIQ since it’s a developer app controlling the FE-C channel.

      But with Smart Trainer support in-activity for FE-C for Fenix 6, I’d hope that’s coming soon… would be awesome to have my SkiErg dump to Indoor Ski and likewise, to Indoor Row, directly without the faffing around.

    • Stefan

      The log book might have been improved since I used it last time but before it only listed the average power, speed etc per interval. With painsled I get continuous data so I can look at in graphs etc afterwards. In pretty much any platform of my liking since I can get it exported in various formats. I tried the ciq app as well but did not get it to work as seamless and getting all data over to Garmin/Trainingpeaks/Strava.

      And lastly – with Painsled you can hook your SkiErg up to Zwift so you can pretend you double pole your way to the top of Alp d’Huez or Ventoux 😉

  20. Luke

    Thanks for the info we wouldn’t have otherwise found out! That’s interesting!

    Can I make the below amendment?

    “I assume other users will start receiving that e-mail soon too. [edit: Except 645 users who have a flagship watch that has been abandoned and is still for sale]”.

    Thanks for the info on this and for letting me gripe! 🙂

  21. Stefan K

    Interesting that calculated power data is spreading into more sports in Garmin’s ecosystem! Being an avid cyclist, runner and cross country skier I can testify I used it a lot with cycling, was thrilled when I saw it come to running but in reality have only seen it as a curiosity for running and not really usable.

    Of these three sports I would argue that XC skiing is the one where external factors that are not so easy to see influence speed the most, and therefore power reading can be a real valuable asset to understand your effort.

    But for skiing I would think that serious athletes would demand/require something like the link to skisens.se system that does actual power measurements and you can use that to e.g. do serious testing on what skies to use at the specific snow conditions of the day of a competition, measuring power in double poling vs speed etc. But over time perhaps these proxy calculations like the Garmin system can be developed so they are a good enough system for an average athlete to be able to judge how hard their session just were. Interesting indeed to follow.

    Wondering if Garmin by this also have opened up for other external power reading sensors connected to XC skiing? And if Strava now finally will add power to my XC activities, but that’s probably just wishful thinking.

    • Will

      Have a read about Stryd. It’s a very useable runnung power meter – assuming you previously used Garmins power meter.

  22. Choo

    Hi there! Thanks for the heads up on this new feature. Before I do an impulse buy of the HRM Pro are you sure that this works on the forerunner 945? I browsed around the Cross-Country (XC) Ski Dynamics page on the Garmin website and it seems that only Fenix 6, MARQ and Tactix series are listed.

  23. Frosty

    Spare a thought to all those lucky ones up north (where it sometimes snows), who just few weeks ago had a choice between 945 and 745 and decided in favour of the latter…

  24. Juan Benavent

    Perfect app for use with stryd in order to get native running power, you will not get vo2 max readings and suggested workouts but everything will be easier without ciq ecosystem.

  25. Jason

    Wow. Almost pulled the trigger on a Fenix 5+ on sale and had I done that and upgraded from my 935 I’d be pissed almost enough to move to polar and abandon my entire current Garmin ecosystem. Not supporting anything but the latest hardware seems ridiculous. Not even supporting version -1 is a slap in the customer face.

  26. Jack

    Thanks for a great post DCR. As an avid xc skier (skate & classic) this is a feature I’ll be looking at getting. Now if we could just get Garmin to add skate & classic roller skiing to their list of available activities I’d be a happy camper. So far I’ve got over 400km skate skiing on my Jenex V2 Aeros and it just doesn’t seem right that I can’t properly categorize that activity:-)

    • Luke

      This also trips my OCD alarms. Most of my training is on roller skis so it would be nice to be able to go back and check out only “on snow” mileage… like you can on Strava

  27. MHjerpe

    How about the new 745?will it not get it ? 🙁
    (Just went that path).
    Would love to see rollerski classic and rollerski skate as activities. (And ski power in them to)

  28. Rower Ergsalot

    Okay, that’s nice, now where’s ROWING POWER?

    Already got the FE-C tie in, already have power fields coming off of those trainers, they even bought out Firstbeat so they could even generate Vo2max from it…

    Give us that sweet, sweet erg power!

  29. ioan

    Great article, as always.

    With the new feature, native power on XC Skis profiles,
    should we expect also native power on Running profiles ? 😀

  30. Oscar Brain

    DCR: “colder harder snow has less friction than warmer wet snow”

    It is actually the opposite. The wetter the snow (without it being slushy and caving) the less the friction. A very cold day with new snow will mean a lot of friction and a lot of extra power power output as one tries to friction-melt the hard and sharp ends of snow crystals to move over them.

  31. JTH

    Interesting they would support such niche use case natively yet running power is still not supported. For example Normalized power would be very useful for interval type workouts…

    Has anyone tried the new pro strap with running power, could it be they added support for these also?

    Another thing puzzles me is that older watches like F5+ is not supported. One possible reason is that the altimeter on these is not very accurate (the value can hower noticeably even when standing still). Maybe they upgraded the components for new watches behind the scenes and just desiced to toss the old ones silently.. 😉

  32. Adremja

    Will garmin finally support roller skiing activity …

  33. Sam

    will this work using a skierg inside?

  34. Forrest

    I’m looking forward to trying this. I’ve been using bike power for a decade and I’m curious to see how the two compare.

    Think snow. 🌨️ ❄️ 😁

  35. NigelDH

    Now I have to get an Garmin HRM-PRO. I am glad I got my 6X Solar back when DC posted the sale on it. Although my wallet said “the pain, the pain.”
    I will have to try this with a couple of dry land X-C skiing options. I don’t have access to good roads for roller skiing.
    Skike all terrain roller skates – link to skike.com, probably available around the world.
    CAT ski http://www.catskier.com – all terrain ski designed to improve your cross country workouts. Video on their web site. Ski (binding on plate) glides on the top of the ski (base on the ground) and then shoots forward and repeats the cycle.

  36. Dan

    Great article as usual. Yes, very curious why Garmin did not enable this function/ feature in its software updates to Fenix 5 plus or other Garmin units. Does this function significantly differ from that which is currently available, and with respect to reason why, is it simply a means of outdating existing products, and/or bringing in new revenue/cash grab.

  37. maxfrance

    As soon as I read the news I first:

    1.Jumped on the chair I was sitting on
    2.Resisted the impulse to buy the HRM Pro before even reading the article
    2.Asked myself why should I buy another (expensive and crappiest quality ever) chest strap when the two previous ones (HRM Run) did not outlast the watch itself, cleaning and caring notwithstanding.

    I’m an avid skier; several Vasaloppet, Marcialonga and such races under my belt over more than 50years practice.
    I train all year long (run, bike, roller skis and much other) for the winter season, so I’m quite well equipped with a Fenix 6 Pro, Stryd, classic and skating rollers, SkiErg machine, Racefox subscription with Smartbelt and bla bla bla …

    My only question is: why only power ? And who sets the standard ?
    Double poling has almost replaced classic technique, mostly in roller skiing; cadence and stride length would be IMHO more useful than power itself, also because they are much simpler values to check and don’t depend from proprietary algorithms and formulas to be translated from sensors to actual numbers

    Garmin products are fine and useful, but I can’t stand this crappy policy of deploying updates and (new ?..) features to a couple of watches/devices only, compelling customers to shell out a lot of money every time to buy the newest product to have all the bell and whistles.

    BTW, as my backup HRM – a Wahoo TickrX – eats batteries more than a full-throttle Tesla, I have to buy another HRM soon, and was seriously considering to spare 50 hard earned bucks getting a new TickrX instead.

    Suggestions welcome !

    • Christian Franken

      @macfrance, totally agree with you! If you are OK with giving an optical HRM, try the Scosche Rhythm24. Besides heartrate, it has a cadence sensor, which works for poling, no stride length, though. I use it with SportsTracks which can display poling cadence (and has an option for roller skiing, see attached). Using it with Fenix 5X.

  38. Eddie

    FR245 Music (software 3.10.0.0) and Fenix 6 Pro (Software 3.0.0.0) in both cases with HRM Run showed Sep 19 ski dynamics in my rollski activities but this future disapeared quickly and addressing to garmin later didn’t bring clarity

    • Christian Franken

      I do recall seeing cadence for a roller ski on GC a couple of times this last summer and later looked for it, couldn’t find it any longer. Garmin has made some steps in the right direction with their app and website but it seems it’s done in a very haphazardly way.

    • Alberto

      The power is shown with HRM-run and HRM-Tri on my Garmin Fenix 6x pro Solar

  39. Keeprun

    Would be noce of it is also usable in skimo / skitouring.. or not ???
    the sport gesture is similar with the extra effort for the climb…

  40. Slowfox

    It seems a bit unclear where Garmin wants to take this. As several have already pointed out, ski power without other metrics will likely give limited value.

    And while ski power is not supported in fénix 5 plus, my ski activities there will show “ski metrics”, namely cadence and stride length.

    Would be useful if you could get a closer explanation from garmin.

  41. TheStansMonster

    I have a hard time believing that this will work any better than other very general, assumption-based “powermeters” like iBike or aerofly. Sure, just adding up all the resisting forces and measuring speed works to back calculate power in theory – but the reality is too messy to be executed with this simple of a technology. I’d want this answer from Garmin – if I go ski a segment with sufficiently long gliding and have a certain power value calculated, then go change my wax to the opposite end of the spectrum and ski the same segment the exact same way – how would Garmin calculate a different power value for that? They are assuming that differences in frictional resistance will inherently lead to a change in some other measurable component, like cadence or speed or glide distance, but that isn’t necessarily true, and sound pretty hand-wavy to me, and hopefully any other skier that has any experience with varying snow conditions and wax types.

  42. Simon V

    I just bought a replacement HRM-TRI as my old one stopped working, now I’ll need to buy an HRM-PRO to get XC Skiing Power! Can’t wait for XC Ski season to start here in Québec: I don’t do biathlon, but you are welcome to come XC Ski around here, although one of the best places to ski the Gatineau Park near Ottawa, and I live Montreal!

  43. Richard Hill

    Hi – I live in the French Alps (Morzine near Chamonix) ans got into XC skiing a couple of years ago, first classic and more recently skate. As luck would have it I also have a Quatix6 so I’m really looking forward to giving this a go. I also have a friend out here who is an ex army biathlon wizzard and instructor so I’ll get her take too.

  44. Anthony DeLorenzo

    A local company here in Canada’s north actually developed a ski pole power sensor. Check out Proskida. All the world Cup teams are using it. They also make sensors for alpine skiing.

    • Hans-Joerg Mueller

      But that’s intended for downhill skiing, not XC.
      And it’s another one of those instances for which one needs a subscription. Arrg!

      Of course since I’m not in the racing “clan” (age 75) it doesn’t really matter. Using the pro version of XC Skitracker on my Garmin Vivoactive HR delivers enough data for MY purposes i.e. HR and HR max. together with distance and speed on the first screen, all the rest farther back.
      Don’t need a fancier watch and the IGPsport chestbelt works well enough for windload trainer purposes together with IGS50E

  45. I definitely agree with you, I have always thought biathlon was an amazing sport. I wish I lived were I could have taken it up. I try to watch it on the Olympic channel whenever its on and when I can wrestle the remote away from my family members!

  46. JE

    Another hint for deeper non-cycling power integration into the Garmin eco system is that since recently when setting power-zones in the mobile app, there is a sports selection screen. Currently you can only choose cycling zones. but I can’t recall seeing this selection before.

  47. Raul V

    I guess Garmin is now launching what must be the last item on their list of ‘scoops’. Guess it appeals to say not even 0,1% of their users.
    But Garmin managers understand so little of their clientele that they think we’re all going to buy new stuff for it!!
    No doubt this feature won’t be functioning at all for the next few years.
    Many predecessors still don’t. (anybody ever checked RR? 35% off!!)
    Apart from the questions ‘what’s the use?’ and ‘what are the control data?’
    By the way: I love XC skiing and I register my trips.

  48. Does it capture cadence or stroke rate or such? No, not at this time.
    …and and I hope this is next upgrade of the function, because the cross analysis of watt and cadence of double polling (with a foot pod on sticks) will be really interesting.
    Carlo

  49. Forrest

    I just bought a $130 chest strap when I already have several chest straps, because I ski enough that this is interesting to me and useful if it’s in the right ballpark.

    Ray, any chance you can find out if this is only for groomed trails or not? And does it calibrate (you mentioned that the numbers improve after you glide a bit) at the start of every activity? I ask because I have a few pairs of skis, and even with the same ones the snow conditions change too. I’m hoping I can use this with whichever skis are best for the day.

  50. Forrest

    73 watts to climb a mountain today, 5 miles / 8 km at 11% average grade. This feature needs some work.

    • Paul S.

      Not enough information to make any judgements. Power is a dynamic measure, so you expect it to vary. You got an average of 73? A normalized power? A typical number going up? On the uphill only or counting the zero going downhill? 73 might be plausible as a total average if you took your time coming back down. How many total joules? You can easily estimate a floor for joules since you climbed about 2700 ft/800 m just by computing the energy it would take to lift yourself that far, mgh (m your weight in kg, g is about 10, h is 800 m). That is the floor for the number of joules the watch should compute, since you need to overcome frictional losses as well.

      But the very easiest thing to do for those of you who have a 6 is to look at it going downhill. The power output should be zero. If it’s not, the algorithm isn’t working.

  51. Roger Amundsen

    Hi!
    Does the 945 support non-garmin heartrate straps? Is it possible that I could pair my Racefox HRS to the 945 (or some of the other models mentioned above) and get the cross-country power-feature working? If I had a 945…

    • They do support non-Garmin HR straps for things like heart rate data (and even Running Dynamics). But running power and skiing power…not so much.

      That said, Racefox could create a Connect IQ app for it (perhaps they do, I haven’t looked), to get that data in – just like Stryd, RunScribe, and others do.

    • maxfrance

      AFAIK, not yet.

      I have a Racefox Smart Belt (first or maybe second gen. ?), but only works as a basic HRM with my Fenix 6 Pro.

      Otherwise, I wouldn’t have cared about the Garmin Pro…