Cross country, or nordic, skiing is an awesome and fun winter sport that most anyone can do. It’s also one of the best all-around exercises for us. Here are some cross country ski basics to get you started…
Why Cross Country Skiing is Great
Cross county skiing is relatively inexpensive
Unlike downhill (or alpine) skiing, you don’t need an $85 lift ticket (that was the average price last year). You may have to pay for a daily ski pass ($6 here in Minnesota), or to get in a park (another $6). You don’t even need to pay those fees if you have a frozen lake nearby with a public access.
Renting equipment is cheaper, too. For example, a local downhill resort charges $29 to rent a ski package. Renting a cross country ski package at our closest regional park is just $6.
Cross country skiing is great, low-impact exercise
Downhill skiing needs big hills or mountains, gravity, and then a way to get back up the hill or mountain. Cross country skiing, on the other hand, uses your own umph to get and keep you going.
And while it’s great skiing on groomed trails, you’re not limited to them. You can ski in fields, natural areas, on frozen lakes, parks—anywhere there’s snow and space.
You use all your major muscle groups when skiing, especially if your course includes hills of any size. It’s a great cardio and strength workout with very little impact on your joints. And it’s one of those activities we can only do with snow—so it gives us an excitement about winter rather than a dread of it!
A Few How-To Tips from Some Experts
I could try to explain the basics of cross country skiing in words, but it’s much easier to show you.
Here are some videos. This first one is from LL Bean, one of my favorite outdoor retailers:
(By the way, I’ve never tried rolling to my knees like that to get up after a wipe-out! Not sure I could!)
Here’s another one that gives a few different tips that are good. Plus the bonus New Zealand accent…
And finally one more from the folks in Tyrol, Austria. They’re speaking German, but there are subtitles, so no worries:
These folks also have a great online post: Cross Country Skiing: Top Tips on How to Get Started, along with gorgeous photos of the surrounding Austian Alps.
If you live in the north and you haven’t tried cross country skiing—or haven’t skied in years—now is the time! Get to a local park that rents equipment and go for it.
Or if you live in a climate that doesn’t have snow all winter, plan a weekend or week’s trip to a place that does!
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Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.