Cross-country skiing is considered one of the best exercises in the world.
In spite of this, or maybe because of it, cross-country skiing is a popular
sport anywhere there is snow!
People ski for the exercise and leisure value of this activity. The point
is to get out there and enjoy the winter wonderland.
Cross-country skiing was invented by the Scandinavians thousands of years
ago. The remains of primitive skis found above Sweden's Arctic Circle have
been carbon-dated to 2000 BC.
Plus, prehistoric cave drawings found in the far north suggest that the
ancient inhabitants of Scandinavia may have used the long bones of animals
By the 10th century AD, cross-country skiing was common among the Vikings.
It was essential for transportation and done by hunters, messengers, soldiers
and monarchs. Since then, all kinds of people have taken up skiing for a range
Cross-country skiing allows you to glide across the top of the snow using
long, thin skis. They attach to special boots, which the skiers wear. Skiers
also use poles to help them along.
The action of skiing is much like jogging, although plenty of people just
"walk." With the help of your poles, and the coating on the bottom of the
skis, you can glide uphill. Once you're in shape, even steep hills are easy
|Cross-country skiing was introduced to North America in the late
19th century by Europeans. In 1849, skis were used in California during the
gold rush days.|
|Courtesy of: Bruce and Margaret Adelsman|
The main difference between downhill skis (also called alpine skis) and
cross-country skis is that the cross-country versions are wider, and attach
to only the toe of your boots. This makes it possible to raise your heel off
the ski and "walk" more easily.
Another difference is that cross-country skis are designed to "stick" to
the snow when you want to push off, but they slide forward easily. This makes
it possible to ski uphill.
Some skis "stick" thanks to a pattern embedded in the bottom of the ski.
Others "stick" owing to the use of special coatings, called wax.
People usually go to the mountains to cross-country ski, though all you
really need is snow. If it snows in your region, chances are there is a cross-country
ski park somewhere nearby.
Most cross-country parks charge admission to help pay for trail grooming,
lighting and upkeep, but a day pass usually costs less than $15. Some places
are funded by local governments and, as such, are free to the public.
Many people like to ski. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has more
than 300 local clubs across the country. This group's focus is competition.
Then there are hundreds of more clubs that are independent and focus on local
activities and ski locations.
Although this activity has been around for hundreds of years, its popularity
has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years. Wendy Gayfer of Cross-Country
Canada says this isn't surprising, considering the general growth of interest
in the outdoors and in exercise.
"This is one of the best all-around exercises," she says. "Anyone and everyone
[can] get into it, too. Ages range from three to 70." She expects interest
in skiing should continue to grow slowly but steadily over the next five years.
One reason cross-country skiing is popular is that it is pretty cheap.
Some skiers will go out and spend $300 on fancy boots, bindings and skis,
and everything will match and be in the latest colors.
Or they could go to a garage sale in any small town where it snows and
buy a whole package for under $50.
In fact, Diane Lawrence, a rookie to the sport, picked up her first set
of equipment for $15. She lives in a place where everyone skis, so skis and
boots are a dime a dozen. It all depends on what you're looking for and where
you're looking for it.
You don't have to be in great shape to do this activity, but the more you
do it, the more fit you will become. In turn, you will have more fun and you
will be able to tackle more exciting terrain.
Those who really love this activity may want to build a career around it.
In this case, there are lots of jobs related to this activity. You could get
work at a ski hill or resort as a patroller, instructor, trail groomer or
Or, you could also get into photography or writing that centres around
winter recreation. Chances are, if you like this activity, you like the outdoors,
and might be happy with jobs that are done outside.
Want to get started on some cross-country adventures of your own? Read
First, look up the sports shops and ski centres in your area. If there
is any cross-country skiing in your area, the sports shops will know about
Sport shops often offer programs to teach cross-country skiing. At the
very least, they can direct you to the clubs in your area. If skiing is popular
in your part of the world, just look in your telephone directory under "Skiing
Centres and Resorts" and "Skiing Equipment."
For starters, you might just want to rent your equipment. There's no use
buying anything until you're sure this is the sport for you. Rentals will
cost between $10 and $15 a day. Try a sports rental shop or a retail sporting
shop. Sometimes, even the ski park will rent equipment.
Lessons will run around $15 to $30 per class.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association
P.O. Box 100
Catamount Trail Association
P.O. Box 1235
Cross-Country Skier Magazine
The Basic Essentials of Cross-Country Skiing,
Cross-Country Skiing: A Complete Guide (Trailside Series),
Cross-Country Ski World
Loads of great stuff, from general information for those just
starting out to cutting-edge news for fanatics
A specialty search engine for ski sites
Cross-Country Ski Areas Association
Has a ski center directory, equipment information, magazine lists
and other neat stuff
Adelsman's Cross-Country Ski Page
Information on trails and conditions, plus full race calendars