Hello there ski lovers and welcome to my post where we will check out my 5 tips for cross country skiing this year. Cross-country skiing is one of the best sports to experience the stunning alpine landscape, in addition to being a great way to stay in shape.
Similar to running and walking, skiing is appropriate for most skill levels and even though it doesn’t require extreme fitness, there are some things you can do to improve your enjoyment and abilities whilst out on the ice.
5 Tips for cross country skiing
So, with the above in mind, let’s check out my 5 tips for cross country skiing below.
1. Assess your fitness levels
Assessing your current fitness level is an important step in preparing for cross country skiing because it helps you determine where you’re starting from and what you need to focus on to improve your fitness. Here are some factors to consider when assessing your current fitness level:
- Cardiovascular endurance: Cross country skiing is a highly aerobic sport that requires good cardiovascular endurance. To assess your endurance level, you can perform a cardiovascular fitness test such as a treadmill or stationary bike test. Alternatively, you can do a self-assessment by going for a brisk walk or jog and timing how long you can sustain your pace before feeling fatigued.
- Muscular strength and endurance: Cross country skiing requires a combination of muscular strength and endurance, especially in the legs and core. You can assess your strength and endurance by performing exercises such as squats, lunges, planks, and push-ups. See how many repetitions you can perform with proper form and take note of any muscle fatigue or soreness you experience during or after the exercises.
- Flexibility: Cross country skiing requires a good range of motion in the hips, legs, and back. To assess your flexibility, you can perform stretches such as hamstring stretches, hip stretches, and back stretches. Take note of any limitations in your range of motion or discomfort you experience during the stretches.
Once you’ve assessed your fitness level, you can use the results to create a targeted training plan that addresses your strengths and weaknesses. A good PT or fitness professional can assist here.
2. Select an appropriate venue
The majority of cross-country ski areas are well-equipped to give seasoned and new skiers equipment and instruction – especially if the trails form part of an established ski resort. And more importantly, well-established areas with good grooming and a sizable amount of flatish terrain will facilitate learning, make family outings more manageable and enjoyable.
Additionally in these areas, as with downhill slopes, most cross-country skiing trails are rated blue (easy), red (intermediate), or black (experienced). The blue trails are ideal for beginners and you should stick to these if you are new to the sport. Black trails and/or off-resort skiing should only be considered if you are highly experienced.
Note: Trail color coding can vary from one ski center to another. Some adopt a coding where green is for beginner, blue is for intermediate, and black is for expert. Always check with your local resort staff before you head out. And shilst you are thinking about where to go, also consider the following safety options:
- Avoid high-risk avalanche areas.
- Know how to navigate the skiing trail you’re taking.
- Take a map or GPS system with you.
- Let others know where you will be at all times.
3. Dress appropriately
The saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing,” is more than applicable for cross country skiing and dressing appropriately is important to ensure your comfort and safety on the trails.
As cross country skiing is a highly aerobic activity, you’ll generate a lot of heat, which means you need clothing that will allow you to regulate your body temperature. Generally, you’ll want to dress in layers, starting with a moisture-wicking base layer that will keep you dry and warm. On top of that, you can wear an insulating mid-layer, such as a fleece or down jacket, and a windproof and waterproof outer layer to protect you from the elements.
For your lower body, you can wear tights or pants that are designed for skiing, with a windproof and waterproof shell layer. Finally, be sure to wear warm and comfortable socks and boots that provide good ankle support and are compatible with your ski bindings. You’ll also want to wear gloves or mittens, a hat or headband to keep your head and ears warm, and a neck gaiter or scarf to protect your face from wind and cold.
4. Tune your skis
Again as it is with downhill skiing, your skis, bindings and edges require regular maintenance.
Here are some steps to follow:
- Clean your skis: Before waxing or doing any other maintenance on your skis, it’s important to clean them thoroughly. Use a ski-specific cleaning solution or warm water with mild soap to remove any dirt, grime, or old wax from the base of your skis.
- Assess the base of your skis: Check the condition of your ski base to see if it needs any repairs or maintenance. Look for any scratches, gouges, or other damage that could affect your ski performance or safety.
- Apply wax: Applying wax to the base of your skis will improve their glide and protect them from damage. The type of wax you use will depend on the snow conditions you’ll be skiing in. For example, hard waxes are best for cold and dry snow, while soft waxes are better for wet and warm snow. Apply the wax in thin, even layers, following the instructions for your specific wax.
- Check your bindings: Make sure your ski bindings are properly adjusted and in good condition. You may need to take them to a ski shop or professional to have them adjusted or inspected.
- Sharpen your edges: If your skis have metal edges, you may need to sharpen them to ensure good control on the snow. Use a ski-specific edge sharpener and follow the instructions carefully.
By following these steps, you can prepare your skis for cross country skiing and ensure they are in good condition for optimal performance and safety.
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5. Protect yourself from the elements
The biggest mistake that many make when they undertake any winter sports is that they neglect to take the same precautions as they would at the beach. This includes:
- Protect yourself from the sun – Even on cloudy days, prolonged exposure to the sun or reflected light from snow can cause serious sunburn (I was even burnt on a ‘white-out’ day myself). Depending on the season and location, the sun is at its strongest when it is high in the sky – usually happens between 10 am and 2 pm. So wear sunscreen and other protection such as a good hat and reliable skiing goggles or sunglasses.
- Stay hydrated – As we mentioned above, cross country skiing can be a highly aerobic past-time. Hence, you should drink water before, during, and after your time on the mountain. A daily minimum of 67 ounces of water is a rule of thumb here. Take 67% of your body weight and convert it to ounces for a more individualized intake.
- Take some snacks – Hunger can be a great risk to you whilst cross country skiing as a lack of food can lead to dizziness and loss of concentration. To counteract this always make sure you take some snacks with you in your backpack. I used to take muesli bars and jelly lollies (candy) as they were easy to eat and full of sugar for some quick energy.
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And there they are, my five cross-country skiing tips for some winter fun this year. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know of your experiences here.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time.