We'll start off looking at the skis themselves. First the bottoms. Newer classic skis have these sort of ridgy, patterned bottoms (except, I gather that real classic skiers use non-ridged skis and special wax to do the grippy thing to kick off). The ridgy stuff is in the middle third (or so) of the ski. Skate skis just have the one groove. (I THINK older classic skis just had the groove, too.) Newer classic skis can be "waxless"; you don't have to do the melted wax into the bottom thing. (But, again, real classic skiers do a special wax thing where they wax the kick area with a grippy wax, and the glide area with a slippery wax. You can guess why I went with the more basic beginner set up.) You are supposed to put this liquid stuff on, but I haven't used these much lately (since I started skate skiing), so I haven't. And now I can't find mine, so I need to go get some. That's why my classic skis look so dry.
Here's a shot of my classic skis, one upside down, so you can see the full extent of the ridgy area.
As far as I understand it, when your weight is on the ski (which is when it's just under you to when you're pushing off), the ridgy things sort of grip at the snow and help you push off more. Since you're using the bottoms of the skis to push off, basically mostly in a straight push, the ridges help. And you're doing that mostly from your toes, so that's why--I think--the ridgy part is more in front than in back of the binding. But somehow the ridgy things don't keep you from gliding too badly.
What's hard to see here is the the skate skis (on the right) have a tiny edge to them, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. You can feel it, but it's not sharp.
And now the tops of the skis.
This picture was taken with the rear ends of the skis even. You can see that the skate skis are a little narrower, and a slight bit shorter. They also aren't quite as curved up at the end. I think they have a bit more bow to them. I don't know what the groove is for, but I would GUESS it's one of those i-beam things, which would give the ski more lateral strength? (You're supposed to push off to the sides with skate skis, like an ice skater, sort of. Thus the name.)
One last bit on the skis. In both cases, the skis are bowed so that if there's no weight on them, the middles stand up, as you can see in the picture below. My skate skis are more strongly bowed than my classic skis.
So, let's look at the uppers of the boots.
That and, as you can tell, my skate stuff is yellow and orange, so it goes WAY faster. /nod
Finally, let's look at the poles.
Let's look closely at the straps.
(Again, I'm guessing that if I'd started as a skate skier, I'd use the same poles and the same boots, because the greater structure wouldn't be a big problem for classic skiing--though maybe pole length would--but you need it more for skating, supposedly.)
And there's my tour of classic and skate skis. We had RAIN yesterday, which means our snow is now not great, and we need more so that I can go out and play on my skis. The cool thing about doing this post, though, is that I've now figured out that I could use my boots on either ski, but that the bit that keeps you from going too far forward wouldn't work as well. I don't know if that's really important, but I'm going to guess that I need all the help I can get at my ability and skill level, and so long as I have skis and bindings that go together, I'll use them.
Who else feels like going skiing now!
Now I've been looking at real ski sites, and learned that my bindings are different more because I got skate bindings to work with the used boots I'd already bought, rather than that the bindings for the two different sorts of skis are different. Anyway, here's what I said earlier about the bindings, and pictures.
Let's take a look at the bottoms of the boots, because that will help us make sense of the bindings.
The toes are down in this picture. The classic boot is on the left, the skate on the right. First, you can see that the classic boot is smaller than the skate boot even though they both fit my feet well. More on that in a bit. For now, notice that on the classic boot there are two little metal bars, let's call them the toe bar (on the bottom) and the arch bar (up an inch or two). On the skate boot, there's just the toe bar.
The next thing to notice is that on both, there's a wide recessed area in the center, and on either side, a sort of raised area. That fits with the ski bindings so that when you're standing on the skis, you don't slip laterally. (The toe thing keeps the boot attached.)
Let's look more closely at the bindings on the skis.
If you look at the left, classic binding, from the top of the picture (the front toe part), you can see the pale grey area, and just behind that (towards the bottom of the picture, a slot. That's the toe bar slot. Then there's a black piece, which has a little hook to it. That's where the arch bar fits. That black thing pivots up and down and slides forward and back so that you can be on your toes basically, and stay attached, still. (I have no idea why that seems important, but there you go. I have a friend who uses her skate boots on her classic skis, so it may not actually be necessary?)
Here's a shot from the side of the classic binding.
On the skate ski, there's the toe bar slot, and just in front of that, a black plastic piece. You have to push that down to close the toe bar slot so it holds the bar in (and the boot on). You lift it to let the boot loose. In contrast, on the classic skis, the toe bar slot clicks closed when you toe your weight in there, and then to let it loose, you push on the recessed area of the light grey part with your ski pole.
Here are side pictures of the skate binding and then of the binding with a shoe in.
As I look, I'm guessing that you could probably get classic skis with the different way of stopping you from tilting forward, but I'm not sure why one of mine works one way and the other works the other. (I bought the basic beginner stuff for classic, so got the basic package. But when I got my skate skis, I was able to find used boots at a swap, and they fit, and then bought the skis to fit the boots, if that makes sense. So MAYBE if I'd bought skate stuff first, I could have gotten the same binding for classic skis and used the same boots?