Cross-country skiing is a form of Nordic skiing and is one of the oldest forms of sport in the world. It involves skiing over flat ground or rolling scenery and there are several different cross-country styles.
It is a great way to explore the areas away from ski centers as cross-country skiing trails will often take you a long way from the main pistes and lifts. It’s ideal if you want to explore the mountains in peace and from a different perspective.
Cross country skiing is also an amazing cardiovascular workout and great for improving your overall fitness levels. If you get really good it’s also a recognized sport in the Winter Olympics so there are endless possibilities.
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What Equipment is Needed for Cross Country Skiing?
The other good thing about it is that it’s fairly easy to learn and you don’t need to spend a fortune on equipment to start out with cross-country skiing. So let’s take a look at the gear that you might need:
Cross Country Skis
These are different from regular skis so you will need to get specialist ones. They are much lighter and thinner and designed for a variety of terrains, not just slopes.
Ski boots are also a lot lighter and are only attached by their toes so you are able to raise your heels which enables more movement.
Is it More Difficult than Regular Skiing?
If you are heading out on a cross-country trail then make sure you choose one that is the appropriate difficulty level for your experience. Traveling downhill on cross country skis is a lot more difficult than with regular skis so watch out for slopes when first starting out.
It goes without saying that beginners should really stay on well-established cross-country trails for safety reasons. That way you will be able to find out the difficulty rating really easily before you start out as well.
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What Techniques are there for Cross Country?
There are two techniques for cross country skiing which are both very different from regular skiing and will take some practice before you head out on a trail that has any kind of difficulty associated with it.
The first technique is called classic style. This is where cross country skiers use poles and basically stride on their skis, following tracks that have already been created in the snow. These skis have a camber shape so are able to glide easily.
The second technique is freeskiing which is more like ice skating than skiing. The skier moves their weight from one ski to the other and the skis are pointed outwards diagonally. You need to use specialist skate skis for this.
Where Can I Go Cross Country Skiing?
There are many resorts that offer the opportunity to try out cross-country skiing among other winter sports, giving you the chance to practice your skills and take in the amazing views as you head into the mountains. Here are some of the top resorts for cross-country skiing:
Seefeld in Tirol, Austria
This resort has hosted many international cross-country skiing events including the 2012 youth winter Olympics and both the 1976 and the 1964 Winter Olympics as well. It offers amazing facilities and experiences for the dedicated cross-country skier.
Lillehammer in Norway
This is the site of the Winter Olympics in 1994 and is a versatile resort offering a huge range of winter sports including bobsleigh, tobogganing, and of course, cross country skiing as Norway is the birthplace of cross country.
St Moritz in Switzerland
For a real luxury cross-country experience, head to the trails of the very glamorous St Moritz in Switzerland. The resort has 180km of groomed trails in Upper Engadin valley, which provide spectacular views.
These are just a few of the amazing winter sports resorts which offer cross-country skiing in spectacular settings but with the sport gaining in popularity there are literally hundreds of places you can go to try out your skills.
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It’s best to have some training and practice on cross country skis as a beginner before you attempt a trail, even if you have skied before as it’s a very different experience when you strap on these much lighter skis.
Cross-country skiing provides great opportunities to enjoy a new winter sport and to escape the crowded slopes at traditional ski resorts by hitting the trails and taking in the scenery in a totally different way.
Whether you decided to cross-country ski at home or abroad, as a one-off experience or with a view to becoming highly skilled, it is a very enjoyable sport that will help you to improve your overall health and fitness while also having a great time.