Imagine zooming down a snowy winter trail, branches whizzing past your cheeks, one with nature on your cross-country skis. Cross-country skiing dates back thousands of years to Northern Scandinavia as an efficient way of navigating across vast, snow-covered landscapes. Enjoy the winter wonderland on skis. It’s a blast!
Kicking and gliding on two skis is also an aerobic challenge that works the leg muscles and builds arm, back and core strength. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it can burn from 400 to 1,000 calories an hour, making it an excellent workout for the outdoor enthusiast.
Cross Country Skiing Techniques: Classic and Skate
Cross country skiing can be broken down into two techniques:
- Classic Skiing – Inspired by Scandinavians traditions, boots for classic skiing are mounted to the skis only at the toes, with the heel free to move up and down. This allows a kicking and gliding motion on groomed tracks that run parallel to each other. Classic skiers use longer skis, with softer boots, and poles that come to the underarms.
- Skate Skiing – America’s Bill Koch first observed the skate step at a Swedish marathon and applied it to win the 1982 World Cup of Cross Country skiing. Skate skiers push off each ski in a V pattern, alternately kicking and gliding. It resembles rollerblading or ice-skating and takes place on wide groomed tracks. Skate skiers use shorter, stiffer skis with a stiffer skate boot that offers more support for the side skating style. The poles are longer, coming up to the skiers’ chin.
Proper technique is important for both styles. Balance and weight transfer are keys to successful cross-country skiing. Begin with a lesson at one of the local Nordic Centers and then get out and ski the nearly 250 miles of groomed trails in Grand County.
Where to go Cross Country Skiing Near Winter Park
Grand County receives more than 300 inches of snow every winter, making it an ideal environment for skiing its miles of trail networks. Nordic Centers in Grand County have groomed trails for classic and skate skiing. All require a fee for trail use and have rentals and lessons, including:
- Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa’s Nordic Center offers more than 100km of groomed trails for classic and skate skiing as well as a special trail for those with dogs. Lessons and rentals are available through the Adventure Center. Day passes are $20.
- Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center has more than 100km of groomed trails for everyone from the beginning skier to the elite racer. Dogs on leashes are allowed on certain trails. For those not staying at the YMCA, the adult trail pass is $20, child 6-12 is $10 and 5 and younger free.
Wherever there’s snow you have the opportunity to cross-country ski. If you have your own equipment check out these inexpensive options:
- Granby Ranch has two Nordic trail networks on East Mountain with lift access for $5. It offers free cross-country skiing on the golf course.
- Rocky Mountain National Park has ranger-led cross-country ski programs leaving from Kawuneeche Visitor Center.
For more winter trail ideas, pick up a free copy of The Official Mountain Bike & Trail Guide to Winter Park & the Fraser Valley™. This guide has elevation profiles, directions to each trailhead and tells which trails are best for winter use.