And why you should do it!
Cross-country skiing (xc-skiing) is one of the oldest winter sports, especially well known in Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland & Norway – the fatherland of cross-country skiing.
Healthy for body and mind
Its popularity comes from its simplicity and healthiness: Everyone who can run also can ski! Actually, cross-country skiing is even more gentle for the body’s joints compared to running. But not only because of being easy on the skier’s joints, cross-country skiing is one of the healthiest sports you can do. As a xc-skier you are an outdoor sportsman! Cold fresh air in woods, on fields, on lakes cleans your lungs & blood and enforces your immune system defence – plus the nature, snowy landscapes & winter wonderlands relaxes your busy mind!
After a very long, busy & demanding workday, grab your poles & skies and go for a training session, whether with friends or alone – if you are the lonewolve-type of guy – doesn’t matter. Just take on the skies, stop thinking and enjoy being one with the skies, the snow & the silent winter woods.
But the main benefit of cross-country skiing, physically, is that it exercises the entire body – arms, legs, trunk… – every single part of the body is engaged while training on the thin skies.
The right technique
With a pole in each hand, the skier transmits the arm-, shoulder- and trunk musculature into the snow, while gliding on two thin skies, supported by the leg muscles. Two major techniques are used: classic technique & free technique (also called freestyle or skating).
Usually, the classic technique is considered the easier one & is recommended for beginners. But very soon, after gaining confidence on the skies, the athlete starts having outdoor fun in both techniques. Anyhow, as xc-ski beginner, you should focus on one of the two techniques and practice it until you reach an advanced level – now the second technique is much easier to learn.
Start your xc-ski adventure by learning the classic technique until you reach an advanced level. After feeling comfortable with this technique, you can start your free technique training, or if you like, continue skiing in classic technique.
The classic style
The Skating Technique (Freestyle)
And then after lots of hours of training, your skiing could probably look like this:
The right equipment
The equipment used depends on the skier’s body, skill level, snow conditions, course, purpose (race, training, touring…) and of course on the technique chosen. Basically, a cross-country skiers equipment consists of skies, poles & boots. For each technique – classic technique or free technique – different equipment is utilized. But since cross-country skiing is a winter sport, it is rarely done wearing shorts. If you want to feel well during your skiing session, you need proper clothing. That means, you also need functional cross-country skiing clothing such as skiing suit, gloves, hats & for the style, you need sunglasses (of course not only for the style, it also helps against sun reflection on the snow, snowfalls etc.)
As basic gear & equipment beside skies, poles & boots, you should get
• a ski hat
• a buff or bandana
• cross-country ski gloves
• a cross-country ski suit
• a cover jacket
• cover pants
• ski vest (with pockets for phone, snacks, wax)
• drink belt (thermos, for warm drinks out there)
Fun & competition combined at popular races
Your required gear correlates with the purpose you go out for skiing. The simplest method of a skiing workout is ski touring: put on your skies, grab your poles and start skiing. The possibilities are endless: From 20 minutes to an entire day of skiing, from a 2-km loop to endless kilometres of tracks winding through the woods, fields, mountains, lakes, even through cities… Leisurely, or exhausting training speeds, or even going to your limits. You decide!
Another possibility is a programmatic training session. Do you have an intended goal? The Vasaloppet? Becoming a Worldloppet Master? Improving your fitness? Working on your health? Cross-country skiing definitely is the sport for you! But be careful! A proper training session needs to be planned by an expert. Otherwise, the workout could amount to nothing, even influencing your condition for the worse.
If you ski long enough, we guarantee you, that you will become motivated for participating in a cross-country skiing race – at least once. We are not only speaking about the hard competition, fighting for seconds & places. This is one thing! But there is another side of xc-ski races: The popular skier’s (also called recreational skier or marathon skier) side! The spirit of a popular skiing race – such as Vasaloppet, Engadin Skimarathon, Birkebeinerrennet, Marcialonga etc. – is special. Skiing up to 90 km with thousands of skiers from countless countries, cheering on each other and achieving goals with one another, is collaborative, not competitive.
Popular cross-country ski races abound, throughout the world. 20 of the oldest, biggest and best ones comprise the Worldloppet Ski Federation: Races exist for everyone, definitely there is a race also for you!
Search the race calendar for a race nearby, or reachable with low travel costs & register. Just give it a try. Positive challenges provide motivation, spirit & perspective. In addition, the races offer great opportunities to increase cultural understanding. Skiers from everywhere are usually registered and skiing alongside you.
So, you see, cross-country skiing is not only a sport. It is your health-insurance, your training for the entire body, your social opportunity, your insight into other cultures, your ticket into the woods, nature & winter landscapes, cross-country skiing is a passion! A passion shared with thousands of other people all over the world. This passion is known under the slogan Ski around the world!