If it’s been a few years since you’ve spent time on skis you’ll be happy to know that cross-country skis, boots and bindings have really improved. So get out and glide — and really enjoy this winter!
Classic style trails have parallel tracks groomed into the snow to guide your skis. Classic skis are long, thin and surprisingly light. The classic skiing technique is easy to learn; think of it as putting one foot in front of the other and adding a bit of glide. You can enjoy the classic ski experience the first time out and spend years refining your skills.
Skate skiing takes more skill, but if you want the sensation of flying over the snow, a few afternoons of lessons can get you started. Skate skiing techniques require shorter skis that are easier to control. Think of the way you move when you’re inline skating in the summer and that will give you an idea of what skate skiing is like if you’ve never tried it. It’s great fun — and great exercise.
If you want to explore from your cabin door, backcountry or touring skis are your best choice. These wider skis help you float over deep snow and offer more control on hills. The boots, bindings and skis are a little heavier than classic or skate versions, but the added support will help when you get deep in the woods.
Best of all, women no longer have to settle for smaller versions of men’s equipment. All major ski manufacturers offer complete lines of women-specific skis.
And for skiers who aren’t interested in learning waxing techniques, waxless ski bases are available. Going waxless means you have the ultimate in convenience, and you’ll be ready to ski in any type of conditions – unlike wax-based skis that require different types of waxes for different weather and snow conditions. Recent advancements in waxless design now mean that you won’t lose as much performance as you would have previously compared to wax-based skis.
The Paper Test
However, many backcountry models still use the three-pin binding for added support, and major manufacturers often have their own specific type of binding system — so avoid mixing and matching. One brand of boot might not work with another brand of binding.
Today’s apparel systems alternate layers of natural and synthetic fabrics that wick moisture away from your body. Lightweight, wind-resistant shells allow the moisture to pass through and evaporate while keeping the winds chill away. The current collection of ski tights keeps you warm, dry and supports your legs to prevent major muscle fatigue.
You could also wear snowpants or skipants if tights just aren’t your thing.
For more advice on what to buy and improving your technique, visit the website of SnowSports Industries America, www.snowlink.com.
Fresh snow is coming. Time to open your back door and enjoy your own winter wonderland.
Editor of Cross Country Skier magazine, Lou Dzierzak has not yet succumbed to ski racing fashion by purchasing a one-piece skintight Lycra ski suit.
3 Nordic Ski Lodges
If you’re feeling the itch to try the trails beyond your own cabin area this winter, try one of these spectacular cross-country ski lodges.
1. Kirkwood Cross Country Center
Perched at a base elevation of 7,800 feet, Kirkwood Cross Country Center in California offers over 80 kilometers of machine-groomed trails. You can brush up on your skills or learn a few new ones with instruction in classic, skating and telemark skiing. Its three interconnected trail systems mean you can be huffing and puffing your way up a ridge one minute and gliding past lava cliffs or frozen creeks the next. After a full day on the trails, you’ll welcome the comfort and warmth of a cozy room, and Kirkwood has many lodging options from which to choose.
2. Giants Ridge
3. Trapp Family Lodge