Cross Country Skiing 101

Cross Country Skiing 101
Are you looking for a way to stay fit and have fun in the winter? Consider cross-country skiing! Depending on your weight, the intensity of your skiing, and whether or not you choose to ski hills, cross country skiing may burn between 400 and 1400 calories per hour. In fact, since cross-country skiing involves a simultaneous use of the arms and legs, many exercise physiologists consider it to be the best form of aerobic exercise. The main difference between cross country Skiing and alpine or downhill skiing is that cross country skiing, the skier is attached to the ski only with the toe of the boot.. In alpine skiing, the entire boot is attached to the ski. The free heel allows cross-country skiers to climb uphill which is not very comfortable in alpine skis.


Cross-country skiing dates back to Scandinavia 4000-4500 years ago, when it was used as a method of transportation. Today, the sport is divided into two disciplines: classic skiing which uses a straight-ahead gliding motion, and ski skating which makes use of glide and edge movements similar to ice skating or roller blading.


Cross-country skiing is part of the Nordic family of sports, which include a number of exciting ways to play in the snow. Biathlon is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. Nordic combined combines scoring of jumping and cross-country skiing events. Ski orienteering involves a marker search on skis with the help of a compass and map.


Compared to downhill skiing, the gear used for cross-country skiing is some of the most affordable outdoor sports equipment available. You will need the following types of equipment for cross-country skiing:


– Skis with bindings attached,

– Poles and boots.

– Clothing suitable for cold-weather aerobic activity


Some people choose to go cross-country skiing on packed trails, while others like to ski anywhere there is snow. There is a distinct difference between skiing on packed trails and skiing “off-track”. On packed surfaces your skis will have greater gliding ability and with classic tracks, you will have two grooved channels that your skis can follow. Off-track ski conditions are dependent on the weather and any previous skiers that have been in the area. However, off-track skiing can feature obstacles such as fallen trees, swollen rivers and inconsistent snow quality. This is usually not an issue in commercial cross-country ski areas, who conduct extensive trail work throughout the summer months.

Raquel S. Hunter is a writer for MamasHealth.com. MamasHealth.com provides simple, easy to understand information about health. MamasHealth.com

Nordic Skiing ? The Four Faces of Cross Country Skiing & Nordic Skiing

Nordic Skiing ? The Four Faces of Cross Country Skiing & Nordic Skiing

One may think that the sport of cross country skiing you slap on some skis and head out your back yard for a day of touring. There is more to the sport than just that. This sport actually has for sub-sports within the discipline. Four types of “free heel” skiing will be describe below. The first, being the most obvious is ski touring aka backyard skiing and recreational touring. The second is performance-based – skate skiing and classic (diagonal stride) skiing. The third is backcountry skiing and the fourth uses telemark skis for the athlete looking to take some turns in deep powder or deep off trail. For those who want to participate in all four disciplines, each discipline requires different ski equipment. Some choose just one type, and others jump in and learn more than one.

Cross country ski touring is by far the most common of the four and is familiar to most Americans. Touring skis are made to use out your back door – in groomed trails or ungroomed trails. The skis themselves can be hot waxed in the tips and tails or just treated with a rub-on wax. The center of the skis, known as the “kick zone” have fish scales that serve to grab the snow allowing you to move forward without sliding backwards (usually). Sometimes the kick zone ices up, and if this happens the ice must be removed, otherwise you will not have any glide to go with the kick! Touring boots and binding are flexible, and are attached only at the toe. The boots should fit the foot well and be comfortable, not pinching in any way. Touring boots come in different qualities. The less expensive quality will be more slipper-like whereas the higher end will extend above the ankle and give a bit more support. Touring ski poles are typically aluminum and should extend to just under the arm pit. The baskets on the poles are typically round and are fairly large to keep the pole from sinking in the snow.

The second cross country ski discipline is geared towards the serious athlete. Many who skate or classic ski train to stay in shape or race. Skate skiing is very popular and a great cardiovascular sport. Classic or striding requires good technique and good kick wax, and is also a great way to get in shape. Usually this discipline takes place on groomed trails, where diagonal stride lanes are created by the groomers, and the skate lanes are even under foot. Without grooming skating or striding can be challenging. Performance based ski gear focus on weight of the gear as well as stiffness for the ski, boot, binding and pole. High end cross country skis get lighter as the quality goes up – ultimately requiring less energy for the athlete to propel him/herself forward. The skate boots and bindings are stiff, which provides greater stability when skating. Poles are light and stiff, with swing weight making a big difference when training and racing. Classic skis are light and thin; poles are also light and stiff, only shorter than skate poles but bindings and boots are more flexible. Remember, the higher end products will result in overall better performance as well as ski experience!

Backcountry skiing is for the person who wants to ski tour, but not necessarily on groomed trails. These skis have a metal edge and are wider than the typical touring ski. This allows for greater turnability as well as stability on the ski. They are also heavier, which helps in stability. Backcountry boots and bindings are beefier than the touring ski, again to allow for greater stability when on snowmobile trails or when breaking trail in the back country.

Telemark skiing is for the athlete that wants to ski the backcountry and have great ability to turn the skis. Typically it is for someone who wants to go deep out of bounds. These skis are really designed to go downhill, only the heel is not attached to the ski. Skins are typically used to ski up the mountain, which effectively serves as a “kick zone” along the entire ski bottoms. These skins are not permanent, and are removed when arriving at the destination – and the skier is ready to go downhill. Telemark skis use a plastic boot, somewhat similar to an alpine boot, only lighter. The binding is beefy and has a strap that runs around the back of the heel. A lease is often used to attach the binding to the boot so the ski is not lost in deep powder. Metal edges and wide berth give the athlete stability and turnability. So when you are ready to start nordic skiing, or just need to upgrade your equipment visit us online at http://xcskistore.com for all your nordic needs.

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Cross Country Skiing – To Skate Ski Or To Classic Ski?

Cross Country Skiing – To Skate Ski Or To Classic Ski?
Cross country skiing has evolved into almost two separate sports – one using the skating technique, and the other using the diagonal stride or classic skiing technique. Here at Brian’s Bicycles and Cross Country Skis in Mammoth Lakes California we get the question of whether to buy skate or classic skis when starting out. What’s the difference? And can one package be used for both skating and classic xc skiing?

Most are familiar with the classic xc ski technique or otherwise known as striding. Many just wanting to venture out their back yard choose a touring ski – an all around ski that can be used both in ungroomed and groomed xc trails. These classic skis are wider than a racing ski, and have fish scales that serve to replace kick wax in the area below the foot. This allows the user to propel forward up a hill without sliding backwards, or “missing” a kick. For the more serious athlete race classic xc skis, boots, bindings and poles are much different than the touring ski. The race ski is lighter and thinner than the touring ski equivalent. A classic nordic boot is flexible, allowing the foot to bend as you propel forward. The binding serves mainly to keep the boot on the ski, and offers little stability compared to a skating boot. Ski pole length for the classic technique typically extends to the arm pit. These poles are light, and rigid and are typically made of carbon fiber or the equivalent light material.

Skate skiing xc equipment is very different than the classic nordic equipment. The skate skis are typically shorter than the classic skis, but are also light and thin. Unlike the classic boots, skating boots are extremely rigid and tend to fit the foot snugly. The skating boots extend above the ankle, allowing for greater support when pushing from side to side. The skate binding is also rigid, allowing for greater stability than the classic binding. XC pole length is also longer than the classic pole. Skating poles extend typically to the height of the skiers nose. These poles are also light and rigid.

The cross country ski world does make a “combi” boot than can be used for both classic and skating, but the disadvantage of this boot is that is does neither well. For classic skiing, it tends to be a bit rigid and fairly uncomfortable. For skating, the boot tends to be too soft resulting in a less stable ski.

For the serious cross country skier, separate ski packages for skating and classic skiing is ideal. To answer the question of what to buy first – skate skis or classic skis. Here in Mammoth Lakes California we have seen a general trend of purchasing skate skis first. Skate skiing is faster, more dynamic, and generally a more cardiovascular workout. It is well worth taking a skating lesson if you are a beginner – or even if you are an experienced xc skier – good technique will go a long way. There is nothing wrong with the classic skiing – but it does tend to require greater skill in the technique to become proficient at it. There are some that choose only to skate ski, but this limits the number of ski days available, since on snowy days or after heavy snows classic skiing will be ideal. After heavy snows or on snowy days, skate skiing is cumbersome since the ski tips tend to get caught in the loose powder.

If you are considering purchasing a cross country ski package, visit our online shop at http://xcskistore.com or come into our Mammoth Lakes shop at 3059 Chateau Road. Tel (760) 924-8566. Happy nordic skiing to you!

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Cross country skiing

Cross country skiing

Cross country skiing is a popular winter sport and is carried out in many countries including Lapland. Cross country skiing is a sport where skiers travel across snow covered tracks using skis attached to boots and poles.  Cross country skiing is often described as Nordic skiing and in places like Lapland there are miles of tracks which are floodlit in the winter days and evenings.

The skies for cross country skiing are longer and narrower than for downhill skiing and the tip of the cross country skies is turned upwards more than in downhill skis.  The boots are specially designed to ensure the ski snaps into the ski comfortably and the boots are actually more like walking boots and are much more comfortable to wear than downhill skiing boots.

Most cross country skiing is done on prepared tracks and these tracks are usually ideal for beginners and expert skiers.  Typical ski tracks will include uphill and downhill ski tracks and a middle section where more experienced skiers can overtake novices.  The tracks will vary between easy, moderate to the more challenging.  The running action where the skis are parallel is the most common action, using the poles to propel the skier across the snow.  More experienced skiers will use the diagonal actions where each ski alternatively is kicked out side wards in order to gain more speed. When travelling downhill the skier will have the skis about half a meter apart, legs bent slightly and pole lifted to the side. Most people think speeds cannot be reached with cross country skiing but actually on certain tracks speeds are quite fast.

Cross country skiing is not just confined to designated tracks and much skiing is carried out across frozen lakes and other areas. Cross country skiing is a real fitness boost but also great fun and a good alternative to downhill skiing.

Children are often very good at cross country skiing as with downhill skiing they take to it remarkably well. Boots and equipment can be hired for a small fee and children are usually well catered for. In Lapland cross country skiing is common place and it is normal to see many locals skiing down to the supermarket or other places.  Skiing over a frozen lake is surreal and very enjoyable especially under the half light of the twilight in the winter months and then when you are hungry; you can stop off and have a well earned bite to eat and a drink.

Just Lapland offer cabin rental in Lapland as well as advice and information on holidays to Lapland. http://www.justlapland.com