Hit the Slopes

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Nordic skiing: Would you try it?

The downhill skier is the laziest of skiers, I think. We’ve got straight skis, hard boots that keep us in place with both the toe and the heel attached to the ski. Once we’re at the top of a hill, we don’t have to think about propelling ourselves forward like our cross-country friends. We can just count on gravity to get the job done.

Nordic skiers are a strange breed. Not having their ski boots attached to their skis adds a whole new dimension of difficulty and athletic requirements.

Nordic/Cross country ski

Cross Country Ski Areas Association advises readers that cross-country skiing, the most common form of Nordic skiing, is a “total body workout” that works all the muscle groups in the human body. Skiforever.com tells skiers that cross-country skiing is safer and less expensive. In general, equipment rental is cheaper and prices for going to cross-country ski tracks create much less of a dent in the wallet than lift tickets at big downhill skiing resorts.

Apparently because Nordic ski boots have a binding to the ski only on the toe, they’re easier to control, Kirstin Hendrickson writes on LiveStrong.com. They’re stiffer and don’t have to be waxed because, unlike downhill skis, you want cross-country skis to have good traction. The only downside to the Nordic ski is that it’s less stable during descents.

I tried cross-country skiing one time. I went with two friends to the Weston Ski Track, which is decently close to Boston. The transition from downhill skiing, something I’ve done since I was 8 years old, to cross country-skiing, is a tough one. I fell so many times while going downhill – and on small hills, mind you, nothing even resembling a downhill ski slope.

I’ll probably never try cross-country skiing again, but I still have an appreciation for that strange version of my favorite sport. If anything else, a video I found on Skiing Magazine’s web site of “extreme” Nordic skiing shows just how versatile and athletic Nordic skiers are (and how hard it is to land a jump on Nordic skis). Take a look:


Photo (cc) Alain Caraco and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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