The blinding white beauty. The silence amongst the giant trees. The swish of skis gliding over the snow. Cross-country skiing bliss.
If you read my blog, you know that I love to cross-country ski. It’s one of the few things I love about living in a winter city. And it’s also one of the few activities that comes even remotely close to my love of running (although I’m a rookie and do it simply for pleasure).
Cross-country skiing has been used for thousands of years as a way to get around in the snow. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it became a sport. It was a contest in the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and women began competing in Olympic cross-country skiing in 1952 in Oslo, Norway (source).
There are three types of cross-country skis: classic, skate, and touring. (There are variations of these with differing lengths, camber, wax or waxless, etc.)
Classic skiing is typically done on tracked and groomed terrain with a stride then glide motion. Skate skiing is done on groomed terrain with a skating motion. Touring is for people who do most of their skiing on ungroomed trails, and these skis generally have metal edges.
Cross-country skiing is a whole-body exercise that targets nearly every muscle. It’s also easier on the body than many other cardio activities. Your joints don’t take much impact, and it’s functional in that you move in a way your body is meant to move.
Some people say it’s as good a workout as running, but I say it could be. You need to develop the skill first. The people I see that know what they’re doing are definitely working as hard as runners. Kelly and I have often discussed taking lessons but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
I think the biggest benefit is for the mind. You’re outside in beautiful crisp and snowy conditions, without the noise of any traffic. It’s kind of like trail running!
I use classic skis and love slicing through a groomed trail on them. There are various groomed trails in and around Edmonton. We’ve also cross country skied at ski resorts (Silverstar in BC and Northstar in Lake Tahoe), cross-country ski centres, and made our own trails.
I can’t stop smiling when I’m skiing and would recommend it to anyone.
Have you ever tried cross-country, or would you? Best memory of it?
I easily have two: spending last New Year’s Eve cross-country skiing with Kelly and Harold and laughing until I cried in Lake Tahoe with Kelly while xc skiing down pure ice.