Nordic Skiing – Glide Through Winter


Nordic skiing presents a lower barrier of entry than its downhill cousin and can be enjoyed across flats, rolling terrain and hills. Furthermore, this peaceful sport allows participants to connect with nature at its most fundamental levels during winter season.

Classic skiing is the easiest form of the sport for newcomers to pick up; it involves moving forward on parallel skis in a manner resembling walking rhythm. When combined with poles, classic becomes even more engaging.

Basics

Cross-country skiing can be an immensely satisfying winter activity, from exploring backcountry trails to following groomed tracks on groomed ski trails. But for beginners to the sport, there are certain tips you need to remember before embarking on your first excursion. Malin Bengtsson of Frisco Nordic Center and author of Your Adventure Coach provides some helpful guidance in getting started with this fun outdoor activity.

Nordic skiing may appear like an effortless series of movements, yet for beginners it can be quite a difficult undertaking. Patrick Coffey is a content writer and expert Nordic skier who breaks down each skating technique–V1, V2 and V2 Alternate–into easily digestible pieces to help novice skiers understand what’s required to start gliding smoothly.

To start Nordic skiing, you will require classic nordic skis that match the width of your boots, along with ski poles – usually much longer than alpine poles to provide more leverage when skating and gliding – and ski poles designed specifically for nordic use. Helmets may also come in handy and it’s always wise to wear warm and protective gloves while ski boarding.

Start out right by taking advantage of groomed trails at a Nordic center or backcountry, which feature tracks that enable more rapid movement over flat terrain. However, even on ungroomed backcountry trails it is essential to observe proper etiquette and be courteous towards other users–skiers have priority when passing; those walking up hills must let skiers pass freely.

Beginning skiers often make one of the biggest mistakes by locking their ankles, which makes shifting weight difficult. To prevent this mistake from occurring, try to flex your ankles and bend your knees as you ski–this will allow your body to relax more freely and move more fluidly.

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No matter which style of skiing you enjoy, it’s essential to stay hydrated and pack energy snacks to maintain energy levels and stay motivated. While wearing a hat may seem counterintuitive, wearing one helps block the sun and protect ears from frostbite. And don’t forget eye protection–even cloudy days may bring strong sunlight that could potentially harm your eyesight!

Equipment

Nothing beats the thrill of gliding over snow-covered trails – working up a sweat, but in an enjoyable, relaxing manner. Cross-country skiing differs significantly from alpine skiing in that only footprints and sticks remain behind (plus occasional divots). Nordic skiing is often easier to start than you think; many communities provide groomed tracks for public use while some even host competitions and races similar to biathlon or figure skating competitions and races.

Equipment needed for nordic skiing is relatively lightweight and affordable, too. You may already own clothing suitable for hiking or mountain biking that could work. When starting out nordic skiing for the first time, however, breathable moisture-wicking fabric with windproof properties on its front side should be prioritized – Gore-Tex fabric may work, while there may also be special fabrics specifically tailored to nordic skiing such as Windstopper.

Boots and poles will also be needed. Boots should fit comfortably, have bindings designed specifically for cross-country skiing and be attached using pins that you are familiar with – ideally renting your equipment from a Nordic center will ensure that everything fits together correctly and that there are no compatibility issues between pieces of equipment.

When searching for equipment, be wary of purchasing alpine gear which does not suit nordic skiing as this can throw your balance off and hinder effective technique.

Practice on asphalt and pavement before venturing out on real trails, which typically combine dirt and snow. As falling can happen even among experienced skiers, be prepared for falls – roll gently instead of standing up so as to minimize injury or equipment damage. Also pack a first aid kit along with water and snacks so as to stay fueled throughout your adventure.

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Techniques

As with any ski activity, perfecting the technique of gliding across snow on skis takes practice and an introduction to cross country skiing courses at a Nordic Center can be helpful in learning the fundamentals. They will teach the classic skiing stroke or striding motion – which forms the fundamental form of movement for this form of cross country skiing – through both kicking and gliding on one ski after the other while shifting your weight side to side.

At the outset of skiing, achieving an optimal stance is essential. Knees should be bent slightly with feet positioned evenly on both skis; relax your body to maximize comfort and speed up glide time.

Cross country skiing’s classic technique is widely considered beginner-friendly. This style involves kicking and gliding with parallel skis mimicking walking rhythm, which is considerably easier on joints than alpine skiing but can still provide an intense workout that burns more calories per hour than running or walking on a treadmill.

Skiers looking for an intensive workout often turn to the herringbone technique – a method of traveling up and down hills which requires more exertion but allows faster travel than using classic stroke techniques.

Groomed trails at most resorts offer both classic and skate skiing, so you are likely to find an appropriate trail that matches both your skill level and preferences. If venturing off-trail, be sure to bring appropriate boots as well as telescoping poles – otherwise you might get into some serious trouble!

Nordic skis were traditionally used by people for transportation during winter months and recreational purposes like exercise and commuting, but have evolved into an internationally sanctioned competitive sport governed by international organizations such as the International Ski Federation (FIS). Events can range from races over courses of different lengths to orienteering competitions and paralympic competitions for people living with physical disabilities.

Safety

Nordic skiing is an accessible winter activity that requires less equipment and physical fitness than alpine or snowboard skiing; however, every Nordic skier must know some essential information prior to setting out on their trails.

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Though cross-country skiing may seem easy enough for anyone to try, taking lessons is key if you want to achieve maximum enjoyment from this activity. With someone to guide your through the fundamentals, quickly learning how to glide across snow can become second nature and building the necessary skills quickly – not to mention giving an instructor an opportunity to answer all of your technical queries such as how to place pressure through forward foot for glide and how to transfer weight between legs more smoothly.

Bengtsson advises new skiers to remain aware of their surroundings rather than simply focus on moving forward. She urges beginners to regularly look up when climbing or heading downhill so as to not run into people or lose control of your skis, while always skiing with a partner and staying hydrated and warm throughout their activity.

Arguably the most essential factor when it comes to Nordic skiing clothing is layers that wick away moisture, manage sweat and can generate warmth while you move. Bengtsson advises repurposing clothing you already own for this sport: wool, polyester or synthetic base layers with windproof layers over them are recommended, along with hats and gloves as an absolute minimum requirement.

Selecting appropriate skis based on the terrain and conditions in which you will ski is vitally important for an enjoyable skiing experience. A professional at a Nordic center will be able to assist with this task by helping determine your size according to factors like weight, height and style of skiing. Also make sure that width of your skis as well as boots (usually available to rent from Nordic centers) is taken into account before purchasing or renting them.

Whenever venturing out on ungroomed trails or into the backcountry, make sure you’re equipped with an avalanche rescue pack which contains beacon, probe and shovel for safety reasons. Also consult a guide or online trail map for current updates about potential hazards like avalanches.