So you've heard a lot about cross-country skiing and now you want to give it a try. Right on! You are going to love it. Not only does cross country provide a great workout that anyone can do, but it is also cheaper than downhill skiing since you don't need to buy a lift ticket. The equipment is also more comfortable — the boots are flexible and the skis are lightweight. Don't let the gray skies and chilly air keep you on the couch, get out and cross-country ski. It is just like hiking on long sticks.
Here are some tips for getting started.
- Find a place near you that has cross-country trails. Some downhill-ski resorts have them, but you can also check out nature centers or parks where you hike in the Summer. You may have to pay a fee (around $15 for half a day) to use the grounds. These places are great for beginners since the staff can point the easier trails.
- Rent boots, skis, and poles at the place where you're skiing, but if they don't rent out equipment, rent it the morning before from a gear store. Rentals are about $15 a day.
- Definitely go with someone who has cross-country skied before. If you don't know anyone experienced, take a quick lesson so you can learn the basic techniques for moving, slowing down, stopping, and how to get up hills.
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- Make sure you dress appropriately. You don't want to wear too many layers since cross-country skiing is a lot like snowshoeing. Once you get moving, you'll warm up and you don't want to get too sweaty. Slip on warm wool socks, base-layer pants, and a long-sleeve shirt then put waterproof pants, a fleece pullover, and a softshell or lightweight jacket over that. Wear a hat and mittens and you should be good to go.
- I like to wear a small lumbar pack like the this one from Mountainsmith, so I can bring along some water, a snack, some lightweight gloves, a camera, and my cellphone.
- 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 you can choose a longer trail.
- Try to go on a day after it's just snowed. Fluffy snow is much easy to ski on compared to an icy trail.
Fit's Tips: If you've been alpine skiing before, just know that cross-country skis have no metal edges. This means that you can't turn or stop the way you can on regular skis. You have less control when it comes to going downhill, so be sure you've mastered the pizza wedge move (also called the snow plow) before tackling steep slopes.