Bring up the topic of skiing, and the likely image that comes to mind is downhill (Alpine) skiing. While alpine skiing is popular, there’s another style known as Nordic skiing that is just as enjoyable and is the original form of the sport. Nordic skiing has its origins in Scandinavia, where it became the preferred skiing style out of necessity, as individuals used to traverse snow-covered land to hunt and gather wood. The first time Nordic skiing made an appearance as a sport was in the mid-1800s, and it wasn’t until the 1924 Winter Games that it debuted on the global sports stage.
The skis used in Nordic skiing are lighter and longer than those used in the alpine style of skiing. Additionally, the bindings are designed to allow the skier’s heel to move on the ski, while the ski poles also tend to be longer than those used in downhill skiing. The classical technique of skiing involved the skier moving with skis parallel and using backward kicks to spur the forward gliding motion. As the sport has gained more attention, skiers have developed another technique that’s more freestyle and borrows from ice skating motions.
More people are learning cross–country skiing as its popularity among skiers increases. There are some reasons for this growth, with the relatively inexpensive costs among them. A day on the slopes can include the additional cost of gear rentals and lift tickets, while a cross country experience may only require the renting of cheaper cross-country skiing gear and a pass to the area.
Besides, this form of skiing has a reduced impact on the joints, while also being a heart-pumping cardio activity. Both young and old can enjoy this skiing experience, and for some, the love of cross-country skiing has stayed with them since they first started. Ragnar Horn, a Norwegian business executive, is among those who love Nordic skiing. He regularly participates in ski marathons and supports the William College ski team.
Enjoy the Experience
The journey to learning and enjoying cross-country skiing starts by visiting a ski centre and renting the right gear for the experience. A cross-country centre will have groomed trails, which are beneficial to beginners as they don’t have to worry about drifting off the set path. Many of these centres also tend to have training lessons that can significantly accelerate the learning process.
The benefit of starting on groomed trails is that they can accommodate most cross-country skis, and for those who are learning the sport, help keep their skis pointed forward, even on turns. Any skiing off the trail becomes backcountry, which requires the use of wider skis to provide the balance needed. Where the trails are wider, the technique used mimics skating. It’s much faster than the classic style but requires longer poles, stiffer skis, and extra–supportive boots for better balance.
At its most basic, the classic cross-country style is more of a powerful walk that requires the use of arms. In the event of tiredness, actual walking also counts. As skiers get more comfortable with walking, they can add gliding to the mix. This involves transferring body weight to the front ski, minimising the kick zone (the area where boots grip the snow), and pulling back in order to move forward. It takes some practice, and the use of arms to provide momentum also helps to improve balance and overall movement.
At first, the technique might feel fairly intuitive, but it takes some practice to get comfortable with it. Taking lessons is recommended, as a guide can teach the proper form and provide tips on how to navigate downhill and uphill areas.