Looking for a new winter adventure? Trying to cross-train for the upcoming spring season?
Cross-country skiing is the often overlooked sister of downhill winter sports. You may have tried cross-country as a kid and left with a bad taste in your mouth; sliding around in the tracks, chasing after Ma and Pa in far too many layers of clothing. Here are four reasons to give cross-country another go, and four must-knows to get you on the mountain.
1) The Ultimate Hike
Winding trails, rolling hills, lakes, rivers, and views of the mountain—cross-country skiing is the ultimate snowy hike with views that can’t be beat. Many established trails circle below the downhill slopes, making for breath-taking peek-a-boos of the peaks.
2) A Low-Impact, Total Body Workout
Cross-country skiing is easy on the joints, making it a great activity for all ages. Proper technique results in a total body workout, from calves to arms to shoulders to core. A gentle stroll through the woods is an efficient fat fryer, or kick it up a notch and torch calories while feeling your muscles burn!
Cross-country lends itself to exploring with old friends and bonding with new ones. Take your Pack to race each other around the track, scream down your first black diamond hill together, and top it off with a warm beverage back at the lodge.
4) The Secret Off-Season Weapon
Tired of working on strength and stability in the gym? Cross-country requires serious core strength and balance, and activates your stabilizing muscles in ways standard conditioning rarely hits. This is especially pertinent for runners and triathletes: the stride and glide action call on your glutes, biceps femoris (part of the hamstrings), and sartorius (a thigh muscle that controls knee and hip rotation).
What you need to know:
1) Two Different Styles—Two Different Strides
There are two predominant styles of cross-country skiing: Skate skiing and Classic. Each style requires a different ski, boot, and pole. Classic is done in a groomed track and is more “beginner friendly” than skate skiing. Skate skiing is done outside the track and requires a more balanced, coordinated movement. If it’s been a few years—or if it’s your first time—start with Classic to gain your bearings.
2) Dress For a Winter Run
Cross-country works up a sweat. Layer up like you’re going on a 25 degree winter run—wool base layers underneath a mid-weight top, covered with a wind-resistant jacket for those extra cold days. Wool socks, gloves, and a hat, and you’re ready to go!
3) Bring Snacks
Just like any other outdoor adventure, your body needs to be fuelled! Pack energy bars in your pockets, bring along your water bottle, and properly refuel your body post-ski.
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
Rentals and lessons—not just for the kids. Properly fitted equipment is essential for a good time, so rely on the shop to get you outfitted before you invest in your own. Take a lesson for your first few times on the trails and let the experts show you correct form and technique. Once you’re on the trails, give a wave and a nod to other skiers. The cross-country skiing community has some of the coolest cats around, and you never know what sage wisdom a seasoned regular is willing to offer up if you ask for a pointer!