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How to Get into Cross Country Skiing: Where to go, what to know

By Jane Marshall

In a province that receives a generous dose of snow and sub zero temperatures, why not get into cross country skiing? It’s a way to stay connected to nature. To get rid of the greyish facial palor that can sneak up over winter. Cross country skiing creates rosy cheeks, strong lungs, and gives you a range of motion on snow that feels like freedom. If you can walk, you can cross country ski. It’s super accessible. A sport for three to 90 year olds.

Scared to get into it? Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry!

In the olden days pioneers would cut skis out of nature, felling trees and using the wood grain to their favour. For us, it’s much easier. The technology’s come so far. Skis are light. The clothing breathes and stretches. And for waxable skis, there are experts who can show you the ropes of how to apply and what kind of wax to buy.


Where to Go

The great thing about nordic skiing is you can do it right in the city. Edmonton and Calgary have great municipal resources that show you where to go:

Edmonton Cross Country Skiing

Calgary Cross Country Skiing

Parks with fresh snow are free for the pickin’ too—just head out and have fun. Do laps at nearby school grounds and soccer fields to get your blood pumping. Another great option is golf courses. Some even have set tracks. I’ve skied at Lewis Estates Golf Course, and Victoria and Riverside are options too. In Calgary check out Shaganappi Golf Course, which is groomed and track-set.



Learning How

To get started, go with an experienced friend or try lessons. You’re likely to meet others with the same interest and maybe make some ski buddies. Here are clubs offering training:

Edmonton and Area:

•   Edmonton Nordic

•   City of Edmonton

•   Strathcona County

•   Devon Nordic Ski Club


Calgary and Area:

•   University of Calgary

•   Calgary Ski Club

•   Foothills Nordic

•   Winsport (Canada Olympic Park)

•   Canmore Nordic Ski Club


Gearing Up

Types of Nordic Skis:

Classic: ideal for track skiing. Faster and more efficient on groomed trails.

Skate: Shorter & narrower than classic. Gives a more intense workout.

Touring/Backcountry: wider than the classic and best for going off trail.

At Campers Village we sell Classic in-track ski’s so for the purposes of this document, we will focus on that type of ski.


How do I know what skis fit me?

Body weight (complete with winter gear) is the main factor in determining the length of the skis. It’s critical to get the correct lengths to ensure you get the proper grip. When you place all your weight on one ski, you completely flatten that ski against the snow, so that the kick zone grips the snow and gives you traction for your kick forward. The experts at Campers Village can help find the skis that are best for your activity level and weight.

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Wax vs Waxless

Waxless skis are convenient and provide grip in a variety of snow conditions. These are generally the preference of recreational skiers as there is very little maintenance associated with this type of ski. Waxless skis perform best in moderate winter temperature conditions, and tend to perform even better with some wax.

Waxable skis provide the most flexibility in terms of ski performance. The various temperature ranges of grip and glide waxes allow the user to dial in the wax specific weather and snow conditions. There are a few more steps needed to prepare and maintain the skis but this allows the skier to get the most out of the skis each time they go out.


Bindings

Bindings connect your boot to your ski. They will match your boots as some styles are not interchangeable. Again, depending on what type of skiing you do, will determine the type of bindings you require.


Poles

Should be between your armpit and the top of your shoulder – basically you are looking for an uncomfortable fit in your armpit.


Have Fun!

Nordic skiing is a great workout. Pack lots of snacks (you’ll be burning tons of calories), dress in layers, and just open your mind to the world of white that’s waiting to be explored.