7 Reasons to Try Cross-Country Skiing

1. No Lift Lines and Cheap Trail Passes

With multiple trails all accessed though human power there is rarely an opportunity to be slowed down by others. The solitude, beauty, quiet, and undisturbed snow creates a magical environment.

Over the holidays several years ago my husband and I were sleeping in our camper at a ski trail head. Early the next morning we awoke to the beep of a backing up snow cat that had just finished setting fresh classic track. Now that is front door service! Although it was snowing the temperature was warmer than freezing which perplexed us for our kick wax selection. Once we applied the correct stick to our classic skis we set out with our two yellow labs. The snow made everything clean and dampened the sounds. A few others were out with wide smiles and as we skied along the Wood River we knew this was very special. The babbling of the water, the squeak of the fresh snow, the dogs exploring the newly fallen whiteness, a wonderful and memorable day indeed.

The cost of this exquisite ski experience: ~$35 for two adults and two dogs – yes, the furry ones wear passes too in some areas.


2. Guilt-Free Eating and Relaxing

Pain Free Athlete :: 7 Reasons to Try Cross-Country Skiing



Cross-country skiing really works up your appetite and your fatigue! It requires a very high if not the highest energy expenditure/kilogram of body weight. Since finding consensus among the online calorie calculating tools was not possible I went back to a reliable source – my Exercise Physiology textbook. A bit old yes, but data I trust which listed cross-country skiing as the top exercise for burning calories. And since getting to the snow and skiing can be a lengthy adventure most people ski for an hour or more increasing the calorie burn.

After finishing a ski I love to sit in front of the fire with a hot chocolate or soak in the tub feeling satisfied with my effort and deserving of some rest and pampering.


3. Cold on the Outside but Warm on the Inside

The thermometer has to be low to have snow and the skiing environment can be frigid. I draw the line at temperatures below -10 degrees Fahrenheit which seems to be the border under which I can’t stay warm. Dressing appropriately is imperative to a positive ski outing. You don’t want to wear too much or too little. Fortunately, there are some cute and warm clothes available that keep the heat in and allow excellent movement. I always dress in layers, with a snug moisture wicking fabric as the foundation. A hat and gloves and in the very cold sock liners and thin under gloves. If you can stay warm the crisp winter air is naturally refreshing and uplifting.


4. Fun Social and Competitive Events

Nordic skiers know how to enjoy life and push themselves to the limit. Whether your are recreational or competitive, cross-country skiing has an event for you. Several clubs and ski areas offer full moon skis, fine food tours, bonfires, yurt dinners, and live music. For the competitive there are sprint to 90 km and 24-hour events for the taking.

If you like to exercise with your dog as I do, skijoring may be to your liking. As your pup runs along you ski behind connected by a harness. A great workout for you and your best friend. I tried it with my canine companion a few years back and laughed the whole time. If I lagged behind she would stop and turn starring at me as if to say- what’s going on back there? She knew she wasn’t supposed to have tension on her leash! My friends thought throwing a stick into the deep snow off the trail was great fun especially when we both ended up face deep in powder as my retriever diligently went to fetch the stick.


5. Gain Winter Cross-Training Fitness

Pain Free Athlete :: 7 Reasons to Try Cross-Country Skiing


I am always in my best athletic shape during the winter. Cross-country skiing uses nearly all of the muscle groups and quickly raises your heart rate. Of course the high elevation, I regularly ski above 9000′, probably adds to my gasping inhalations. Spring and summer sports enthusiasts can gain strength, balance and aerobic capacity to bring into warm weather pursuits by strapping on the skinny skies. And it’s much more fun than indoor stationary equipment and the bike trainer!


6. The Sensation of Gliding

Effortlessly slipping over the snow with little between you and the ground is a cool feeling. Nordic skis designed for groomed trails are narrow, light and without edges. The boots are supple allowing for mobility in the ankle. With such meager equipment you feel connected with the earth and gliding occurs when you are in perfect balance over one or both skis. Generally the result of a strong push off from the other leg or a downhill section of trail the ski or skis carry you along so you can regain your breath and admire the beautiful setting. This is your chance to recover, take advantage of it! Because what goes down must go back up and the accents always seem longer than the descents.


7. A Sports Challenge For Your Lifetime

So many sports are for the young, I certainly don’t do gymnastics anymore. Cross-country skiing, however, is for all ages. It is common to see whole families out exercising together in the snow. New moms and dads can get an extraordinary workout pulling children not yet big enough to ski behind in a sled.

The non-impact nature of the movement is especially good for those suffering joint injuries and pain. Nordic skiing is the one activity that I have been able to do consistently following my knee and hip surgeries. For women especially, the weight bearing aspect of the sport is important and beneficial for bone health.

With two different techniques, classic and skate, and continual refinement and updates in technique, cross-country skiing is never mastered. There is always room for growth and improvement. I love that! In a clinic a few years back one of the top instructors said that as soon as you think you’ve perfected your technique and don’t have to work at it anymore you are no longer progressing, are going backwards and losing form.

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About the Author


Jessica uses an integrative approach to help you overcome chronic pain. She believes in treating the whole person utilizing the biopsychosocial approach to healing. Her offerings include posture therapy, online exercise classes, pain science education, and individual or group wellness coaching. She is certified by the Postural Restoration Institute® (PRI), Egoscue University®, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Wellcoaches.