Are you a cross country skiing fan? Or you just heard about it and decided to learn the basics? Well, these days, everyone wants to learn cross country skiing-the posts are all over the internet. There has been an increase in demand for xc skiing instructors and suddenly, everyone is a trainer now.
In today’s era, it’s pretty hard to tell who is real and who is not. To stay safe, novice cross country skiers have taken to the internet to research the sport and maybe gain basic skills before diving into the rough world of paid training.
The most glaring questions in their minds are; how long will it take me to learn crosscountry skiing? Will I learn it fast enough to compete in the next local winter games? Is cross country skiing expensive to learn? These questions are to us, genuine, and worth answering.
If you are one of these persons, I’ll give it to you straight, crosscountry training is not easy but with the right attitude, you’ll be gliding at wrecking speeds in no time.
How Long Will It Take Me To Learn Crosscountry Skiing?
It should take you roughly 7 days to complete your cross country skiing short course. During this time, you should have completed at least 28 hours of practical training from a professional. A week is all you need to transition from a beginner skier to an intermediate.
The duration is not fixed, however; you can finish early or even later, it all depends on how quickly you can grasp new concepts. Some beginner cross country skiers are up and running in only a few days while others must undergo up to 2 weeks of training to get it right. Things get worse if you are training on your own.
Other factors that can determine how long you’ll stick with your trainer include your fitness level, your training gear, and the weather conditions at the time of training. Additionally, there are two types of cross country skiing-the classic technique and skate, the option you settle on might also affect your duration of training.
Is Cross Country Skiing Demanding?
Compared to other forms of skiing, cross country skiing is far more demanding. Cross country skiers have to glide through flat snow areas and occasional uphill terrains, these call for more than normal levels of physical endurance and stamina.
As the skiers work on their speed, the constant stretching of muscles and cardio workouts has huge benefits on the body. The secret is to adjust your attitude towards the training and view it from the results perspective.
Cross Country Skiing- Key Areas Of Training
It is apparent that aside from connecting you with nature, cross country skiing adds to your body’s muscle build and stress endurance- the mental and physical health benefits are endless.
If you have been pushing your cross country skiing lessons ahead, there is no better time to give it a go than now. Get the idea that learning gets harder with age out of your head, there is no concrete beginner’s guide but you will manage- even senior citizens are having their best time on the track these days.
The sight of small children skiing down sloppy terrains with their parents can be demotivating for you as an adult but as we said, cross country skiing can be learned at any age.
With the right equipment fitness levels, a few days of training are enough to kick start your cross country skiing journey or even career. If your trainer is skilled enough and you give it your all, you could be off the beginner level and into the intermediate level in less than 5 days.
With the basics aside, we’ll now explore the various approaches to cross country training and offer detailed insights on the best practices.
Classic Skiing And Skate Skiing- Select One
If you are still new to this sport then the first thing for you will obviously be, to select the skiing technique that works for you.
To do this you will have to learn the basic principles governing each technique. There are two techniques in cross country skiing; classic skiing or as experts call it the diagonal stride and skate skiing.
Most instructors recommend the classic cross country skiing technique for novices and other beginner-level skiers. Having begun as early as the 19th century, classic cross country skiing is believed to be the earliest and easiest form of skiing.
In classic cross country skiing, the technicals are straightforward; place your skis parallel and pointing straight forward. It is in some way similar to walking only that you get to wear skis and glide rather than stride.
The style takes a lot from our everyday activities thus making it easier to comprehend.
One disclaimer however is, once you settle on the classic skiing technique, do not drop it for the second option. This is a mistake that many beginners fall prey to; making a U-turn when they are already into a technique.
This is why every trainer takes you through the differences between the two styles first before the selection process.
Skate skiing or the freestyle technique is considered the more demanding option. It shares most of its motions with the ice skating sport thus making it very demanding in terms of proactivity and resilience.
Skate skiing calls for high levels of physical and mental fitness to maintain proper body control, especially on sloppy terrains and sharp corners.
The technique is nevertheless faster and more fun; it will definitely get you to the finish line much faster.
Work On Your Body
Nordic skiers ski through tough terrains wearing pretty daunting equipment- to withstand the physical demands, you must be in good shape or at least be ready to improve.
We’ve seen trainees give up on the sport after their lungs couldn’t keep up with the hills. You can avoid this by working on your physical fitness and endurance levels. This way, you’ll not only enjoy the races but the training as well.
For low endurance persons, cross country skiing can be hell, although that depends on how you choose or view it. If you take the positive approach, cross country skiing will become your source of inspiration to do something about your body shape or health. You’ll be surprised at how much cross country skiing can do for your body if well-trained and practiced.
Nordic skiers are known to burn thousands of calories in just a few hours of physical training. Nordic skiing can be a life-changing sport for you if you choose to take it seriously. The benefits do not end with the winter season; the developed habits can be transmitted to your everyday life as well.
Select A Proper Training Ground
After the initial lessons, don’t get over-excited, we recommend that you take your first skiing practicals on flat terrain or on groomed trails- you can go full-blown later on.
It does not matter where you learned the skill; it could be from skiing school, from a professional, or even on the web by yourself. The bottom line is, your skills are still weak- skiing in sloppy terrain at this stage would be dangerous.
Most groomed tracks have beginner-level sections where the environment is more novice-friendly. Here, the trials are well-groomed to the correct snow height and have been cleared of any obstructions.
The loops are also made shorter and less demanding. As you get used to this level of difficulty, you can then proceed to tougher terrains and soon attain intermittent trainee status.
The set aside trails also offer you an area to train on without obstructing other skilled level skiers.
Additionally, skiing tracks are designed to offer safer trails for both skate and classic skis, training in your backyard might seem ideal but the risks are not worth it.
The main benefit of training on groomed tracks is that your skis will not slide off track since the trails are groomed to adequate depths.
Get A Feel Of The Cross Country Skiing Gear
Even as you invest in your skill, you must check out the cost of equipment- the right gear for cross country skiing can be expensive, especially if you settle on the premium brands.
If you do not plan to take on cross country skiing in the long term, we recommend that you rent your gear for the winter rather than buying.
You can walk into any cross country skiing center in your area and request boots, poles, binding, and skis your size. These centers serve recreational skiers best although most professional skiers begin started cross country skiing with the rented gear.
If you see yourself cross skiing for life, then why not just buy your own gear? Having your own gear is very convenient as you can have it customized and you can also ski whenever you want. Plus the sharing aspect brings about hygiene issues that not everyone is ready to live with.
For the first skiing kit, go for something modest, then, as you develop a bond with the sport and understand your needs, you can go all in and get the right equipment for you style.
The Clothes You Wear Are Key
Winter can never be too cold if you are well layered up- always wear cross country skiing clothes. Proper clothing gives you a sense of warmth and comfort on the trail and lets you push yourself to the limit during training or even normal cross country skis.
Don’t overdo it though, you can’t afford to suffocate yourself when cross country skiing hard on the track, get warm but still breathable clothing and take off any that feels too warm or heavy.
The best cold weather protection comes in 3 layers; the base layer, the mid-layer, and the external layer. The outermost layer should be waterproof- it is here that water and snow hit before penetrating.
If this does not feel warm enough, you can always add one more sweater or a windbreaker when the winds prove too strong. Take all your skiing clothes plus the possible additions with you to the track, if bad weather catches you without proper wear, you might have to cancel your plans for that day, who wants that?
Enjoy Skiing And Practice Often
Cross country skiing is a highly technical sport with delicate moves that require repeated practice to master- you can’t achieve this if you don’t enjoy skiing. It is always advisable to learn from experienced skiers although some internet sources have also proven themselves worthy.
As you harness your skills, you will learn how to apply them subjectively when moving forward in various situations on the ground. Also, learn to maintain the proper posture when skiing downhill- every move you see on the Olympics’ track is pre-calculated to deliver perfection.
As you learn, you will understand better the physics behind motion in cross country skiing and from there you can adjust your strategies and basic techniques to match the different terrains; the skills you’ll employ when skiing uphill will differ from those you’ll employ when going downhill or when gliding through flat land.
The first lesson is as important as the last, it is at the initial stages that you set the base for the skills you will employ in the future. It is for this reason that we recommend cross country skiing private lessons as they not only provide an opportunity to learn but also a platform to gauge your skills with top tips from professional ski instructors.
After a few trips, you’ll know where your strengths and weaknesses are, and from there, you can work your way around each on the trails.
A common mistake we’ve seen among novices skate skiers is failure to maintain their full body workout routines and healthy diet; how do they expect to become faster skiers? This mostly happens with beginners who hit the ski tracks for recreational purposes; when the winter is gone, it takes their will to work out with it.
Cross country skiing is, as we said, a physically demanding and stressful sport; to keep up, a skier must work out regularly to keep their body in shape. Well, you can’t ski in the summer but there are numerous summer exercises you can do to keep your body healthy and ever-ready for the next race.
Aside from normal exercises, you can try out the various skiing training machines available. They have the same motion as normal skiing and will offer you the same feeling only in this case it’ll be indoors.
Ditching the sport in the summer will affect your performance even when winter returns since your muscles will have to retrain, and you might not enjoy your skiing as much as you would want.
Shifting From Alpine To Cross Country Skiing
Alpine skiing is what your local folks call downhill skiing. If you are new to cross country skiing but are well-versed in alpine skiing, good for you; others will have a steeper learning curve compared to you as the two are similar in multiple aspects.
Alpine skiing equips you with an in-depth understanding of skiing in sloppy terrain and basic balancing and maneuvering skills. If your skills were advanced then you might know how to snowplow, employ the ski edges on flat ground and perform downhill glides with ease.
The main differences you can expect during the shift can be;
- Edging might prove a little difficult before you get the hang of it as the two forms of skiing use different ski equipment; the metal edge design is not present in cross country skis.
- Cross country skis are made narrower to match the grooming; alpine skiers have trouble adjusting to this new design, especially when balancing themselves.
- Unlike in alpine skiing where you only go downhill, in cross country skiing, you will have to ski uphill and through flat lands. This endurance sport will call for more body workout and stamina on your part.
- Cross country skiing is more than a sport; it is also a high-intensity workout. To blend in, you’ll need to dress the part; your heavy alpine skiing wear might not serve you best in cross country skiing, especially during heats.
Cross country skiing and alpine skiing both happen on ski areas but their differences are too glaring to ignore. The good thing is, however, with a basic understanding of one, you will definitely have an easier time grasping the other.
The shift will also call for a new set of equipment although there is nothing to worry about, XC skiing gear is by far cheaper than alpine’s. There’s also the renting option where you get to use other people’s equipment until you feel confident enough to purchase your own.
If alpine skiing was good for you, then cross country skiing will be much better.
Safety Precautions For When XC Skiing
Invest In Warmth
If you feel cold, add an extra layer of clothing, cold weather can have adverse effects on your health. Do not be tempted to hang in there until the next stop or something, wear another sweater immediately you feel the need.
Also, if you are sweating profusely, it would be wise to adjust accordingly because sweat can sometimes get cold on you and cause chills.
If it gets too cold, you can always bring hand and leg warmers plus a warm drink to sip as you proceed.
Avoid High-Risk Areas
This is why we recommend skiing in resorts or regulated terrains as these areas are maintained and secured for skiing even by newcomers. If you can’t access such an area, then we recommend that you learn the basic procedures of survival in untamed outdoors.
Skiing through new terrains can be tough if you lack basic navigation skills. If you ever have to, make sure to wear a GPS tracker, carry a map, and also research basic snow navigation tactics. The skills are basic and you might never need to use them but it’s always safer to just be ready.
Don’t Fall Too Hard
Skiing too fast can sometimes cause you to tumble, everyone falls at one time or the other, the secret is to fall like a pro. When you lose balance, don’t be tempted to spread your hands or poles to lighten your fall; you’ll only increase your risks of arm injury or damaging your gear.
Experts recommend soft falling; just let your body roll over the snow and come to a stop right after. To do this, however, you must have some degree of control over your body at all times- that’s why intensive training is important before hitting the track.
How Hard Can It Be To Learn XC Skiing?
Well, cross country skiing can be hard, especially at the initial stages of the learning process but after a few lessons, the fruits of your labor will slowly wipe out any memories you may have of hard training. The full body endurance a cross country skier requires to maintain optimum performance from the start to the finish line is immense but with training, everything is possible.
The learning options are endless, from pro-coaches and skiing schools to online tutorials, all a cross country skier needs is a willing heart.
If it’s your first time on a cross country ski, you can focus on classic skiing which is much easier to learn and practice. There is not much need to, but if after your mastery of the classic skiing technique, you choose to pursue the freestyle skiing option, ok, that’s a good idea. You can apply the skills from both techniques to earn yourself an edge in competitive races.
Cross country skiing is believed to be the easiest form of skiing to learn as a novice. First-time skiers; whether adults or kids are advised to approach it with will and determination- as much as it is easy, the physical fitness demands on your body will be high.
You can learn cross country skiing in less than a week and be on the trails by yourself in two. The article above offers you an in-depth look into the whole cross country skiing training idea.
We’ve mentioned the key areas you should focus on, how and why it can get hard, and of course outlined the safety aspects of cross country skiing.