A common misconception is that the push of the forward stride comes mainly from the front of the blade (the toes). This is not so..
We push from the entire blade, starting with the heel, finishing with the toe. Of course, when talking about the blade, I'm talking about the inside edge of the blade, because every push of the forward stride is executed by pushing against the inside edge.
I have a principle which I like to call the "one third, one third, one third" principle. The reason for this is that the First third of the push comes from the back third of the blade, the second third of the push comes from the middle third of the blade, and the final third of the push is comes from the front third of the blade. It follows that each third of the push is equivalent to one third of the power generated by that push.
So what does this really mean? It means that if your technique is faulty at any point of the push you will lose a percentage of your thrusting power (potential speed).
To get more in depth, if your technique is incorrect at the beginning of the push, you lose the first third of that push.
The second third (the middle) of the push is technically easier and more natural than either the beginning or end, so most players manage to get this part of the push (unfortunately, many players Only get this third of the push).
If your technique is faulty at the finish of the push (which is the toe flick), you lose the final third of this push.
Losing even one third of one's power results in damaging loss of speed. Losing two thirds of one's power almost guarantees slowness. These skaters look fast, but only because they are churning their legs furiously. In actuality they are going nowhere fast.
Contrary to common thinking, the forward stride is not a simple or natural motion. The techniques are multiple and complicated. These techniques are described in detail in my book, Laura Stamm's Power Skating Third Edition, and demonstrated in my video, by recently retired Detroit Red Wings player, Doug Brown, with perfection and grace. Remember, Perfection Only Looks Easy. It takes years of learning and years of practice to skate with such apparent ease.
When you watch the video, spend lots of time watching Doug skate in slow motion.
by Laura Stamm, © November 2001