Downhill skiing is a blast, but if you're not in the mood to race against frigid winds or stand in long lift lines, try cross-country skiing this Winter. It may not be speedy, but cross-country skiing will tone your upper and lower body, give you a great cardio workout and burning almost 500 calories in one hour!
Like snowshoeing, cross-country is more social than downhill skiing, because conversations aren't limited to time on the lift. As you slush along snow-covered trails, you can chat while taking in the breathtaking scenery. Plus, no expensive lift ticket is needed. You might even find cross-country more comfortable than downhill skiing because the boots are more flexible and the skis lightweight. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for newbies.
- First, find some cross-country trails. Some downhill-ski resorts have groomed trails, but also check out nature centers or parks where you hike in the Summer. You might have to pay a fee (around $15 to $30) to use the grounds. Don't be shy about asking the staff to point you toward the easier trails.
- Rent boots, skis, and poles at the place where you're skiing, but if this isn't possible, then rent equipment the day before from a gear store; rentals are about $15 a day.
- Definitely head out with someone who has cross-country skiing experience, or take a lesson to learn the basic techniques for moving, slowing down, stopping, and climbing up hills.
Keep reading for more beginner cross-country ski tips.
- Even though it's cold, don't overdress. Unlike downhill skiing (where you're dealing with wind, waiting in lift lines, and sitting on cold ski lifts), you're constantly moving when cross-country skiing. Dress slightly warmer than if you were heading out for a Winter run. Slip on warm wool socks and wicking baselayers — both tops and bottoms. For your outer layer, wear waterproof snowpants, a fleece pullover (if it's really cold), and a windbreaker or lightweight jacket over that. Wear a hat and mittens, and you should be good to go.
- Carry a lightweight backpack filled with essentials: water, snacks, tissues, a camera, your cell phone, or whatever else you'll need.
- Aim to ski on a day after it's just snowed. Fluffy snow is much easier to ski on compared to an icy trail.
- Go at your own pace. It takes a little while to figure out the rhythm of how to move your arms and legs, so start off slow. Choose a short trail that will only take about an hour, and the next time you go, increase the distance.