- Cross Country Skiing – will we die…
Circumstances this year dictate that there will not be a family alpine/downhill ski holiday. The other half was particularly sad about this. I’ve always fancied giving cross country a go, and have found an opportunity to to take the family for three days, in Norway where there are virtually limitless, groomed trails. Slightly surprisingly the other half is on-board with this idea.
Now a few friends have looked aghast when I have mentioned it! Apparently it is “unbelievably tough” – although none of them have ever tried it. The only people I know who have ever done it are “native” and grew up doing it, so think it is “not too hard”.
Can anyone puts it into perspective in terms of road / mountain biking? or trail running? Is doing this for say 2 hours having lunch and doing another 2 hours equivalent to riding twice that on an MTB, or are we into ultra marathon territory?
We are coming at this as downhill skiers who will make it down red runs with varying degrees of grace and confidence, mostly we enjoy quiet slopes in middle of nowhere rather than technical challenge or outright speed. Mrs P (the least confident of us) would particularly enjoy us all being at a similar level, and spending time as a family. The youngest will be almost 12 at the time. Has anyone else taken kids this age cross country? We don’t need to be fast – but if one of us is much slower it could be frustrating.Posted 8 months ago
I’ve had the misfortune to try cross country roller skiing.Posted 8 months ago
It was awful, although I would like to try proper cross country skiing.
Hi OP, Brit in Sweden here, I’ve been xc skiing for around 3 years now. The answer is it depends 😀 on the gradient and the pace you set. Will you be skating or traditional skiing in spår? (Dont know the English word, like train tracks EDIT Classic sorry. We xc ski with our 4 year old and our 7 year old. I usually do 1 hour blasts after work where I destroy myself, then 4 hour long slower sessions once a weekend.
Uphill is tough, but you can basically walk up if it’s too hard, downhill is difficult as it’s hard to stay in control. I really love it though!Posted 8 months ago
Mrs kilo does it, seems to have taken over from normal skiing for her annual trip, she started doing it only a few years back and really likes it. She is quite good on a bike, will do four hours plus on the cx bike with no complaints and a reasonable runner and doesn’t find it too onerous. I’ll get her to post later on. Try and get a go on a biathlon range if there’s one about.Posted 8 months ago
I’ve alpine skied for the last 39 years. I tried XC for a day about 30 years ago. Never, ever, again. That one round of golf I played with @lister when I was hung over was marginally more enjoyable, but only because there was the possibility of escaping back to the bar at any second. XC skiing is the reason we have lifts, snow mobiles, fat bikes, log fires and schnapps.Posted 8 months ago
I on the other hand loved it. I’m quite partial to Fell Running which may be a factor.
If you’re going for three days be prepared to spend a fair amount of those days falling over.
Energy wise, it depends. XC skiing isn’t necessarily a case of maxing you heart rate out instantly until you stop or simply keel over with a Cardiac Arrest. You can just go out for the equivalent of a brisk walk if you want. Terrain permitting.
Seems to be what skiing really is in Norway, Alpine comes second.Posted 8 months ago
You won’t die but you’ll find yourself flailing around on the floor a fair bit – skis are a lot, lot narrower and the boots far more flexible than DH so your balance and technique are far more important. It’s far more an all-over workout so you’ll probably overheat if wearing your normal alpine ski-ing kit unless travelling at a very moderate effort.Posted 8 months ago
You will discover muscles you didn’t know you had, though the cycling will help. Book a massage afterwards! Also, technique is everything, if you can get into the rhythm everything will flow. I love it. However, there is the temptation to go to far and then remember you’ve got to ski back. Carry snacks and water.Posted 8 months ago
We have a Nordic ski centre near us, Huntly Aberdeenshire. There are trails in nearby Clashindarroch Forest which hold the snow once it comes. I tried it once for days try-out, couldn’t get it, I’m not a skier. YMMV. Very popular round here.Posted 8 months ago
Watching this with interest.
Mrs loves her new “Skikes” which are like xc roller skis with big off road tyres (heel can lift and one way clutch in front wheels). I can see the next step will be a ski holiday.
Seems popular with xc mtb racers and fell runners so guess that tells you something…..
A friend said young Scandinavian kids look at you weird as they’ve can’t compute an adult that can’t use skis 🙂Posted 8 months ago
As others have hinted you’ll spend a lot of time picking yourself up, even a slight downhill is unnerving in a way that you’d need to be on an icy black run when wearing Alpine skis to get the same feeling.
If you are putting effort in then you really don’t want to be wearing much! I did some many years ago in temps of around -10C, I just wore a set of base layer thermals and was still too hot! Obviously you don’t have to push it all the time but you’ll warm up getting yourself off the ground.Posted 8 months ago
You’ll have a grand time. If you’ve learned how to fall over without injuring yourself (from mtbing, downhill skiing etc) that’ll prove very helpful. But honestly, take it steady and you’ll find it like going for a hike on marbles, through beautiful snow-covered landscape.
(Brit in Canada here)Posted 8 months ago
Ive done it a couple of times in scandinavia at the in-laws – physically its like xc mtb – but slightly more concentration needed. Make sure you get instruction as its all about technique – my wife taught me (she grew up learning for PE lessons). Classic (langlauf) is when you keep the skiis parralel in groves while freestyle is a bit like speed skating up hills (you can use it to traverse flat or slight rises on downhill skiing). I wore similar clothing to a winter xc mtb ride (gore jersey, light hat, Neck gaitor, warm but lightweight trousers).Posted 8 months ago
Mrs Kilo here. I would say get a lesson to start with as technique is everything. Classic is easier but the fun stuff is the skating which is amazing. As long as you are reasonably fit you will be fine; good balance is essential particularly on the downhill. Top tip is to get a nice young male instructor who can show you the ropes particularly where the best schnapps can be found 😎Posted 8 months ago
Another Brit in Canada here. There’s two elements to XC skiing – cardio and technique. Of the two technique is far more important so I’m going to say that the 12 year old won’t be hugely disadvantaged to begin with. As others have said though going downhill on nordic skis is a bit more tricky than on alpine skis. Terrifying is a word I’d use to be honest. Given 12 year olds are better at falling they might progress faster than the adults.
Have some lessons and practice somewhere flat.Posted 8 months ago
My wife does classic xc skiing. She hadn’t done regular exercise for a while (pregnancy/baby approximately 2 years) before she started. She enjoys it and doesn’t find it impossibly hard.
Youll probably benefit from a lesson to discover the correct technique.Posted 8 months ago
Thanks folks. Clicked book. If I stop posting in Mid Feb you were all wrong!
The plan was to get some instruction, most likely classic style as the technique is apparently less important to make some progress than skater style.
I dress very light when skiing anyway so might need to be in shorts! The rest of the family seem to wear Michelin man levels of clothing when skiing so I will have to convince them to reduce clothes.
Mrs Kilo – I suspect we look for different things in an instructor, and at Norwegian prices I doubt we will be drinking too much snapps on the routes!Posted 8 months ago
You will be fine . We did this in Norway a few years ago , only issue was my other half was much better than me . My tip is get shoes / boots that fit . I was not paying attention when we got the hire kit and ended up with boots far too loose , which did not help my control issues going downhill ..Posted 8 months ago
And I am a pretty average downhill skier ..Posted 8 months ago
I’ve done lots of xc skiing (Alaska, Czech republic, Finland, Switzerland,UK etc) and would compare it to mountain biking. You can go out all day at a gentle pace on flattish terrain or go for a short one hour blast. No need to be massively fit if you are taking it easy. Enjoy the scenery and the lack of crowds. Some trails have little huts that you can have a rest in, others have little cafes etc.
Instead of ‘what tyre for?’ it’s ‘what wax for?’……………..Posted 8 months ago
This was essentially my choice last year. Missed out on downhill and went for four days of XC in spår instead. To be honest, calling them tracks in some cases is being kind, but they were local made and in the woods, so really quite enjoyable.
Downhill/slope is the hardest part for me. It’s the leaning and balance when only the front of the boot is clipped in that gets me just about every time. I plan on practicing more this season.Posted 8 months ago
oh the waxes! lets not get started on that!
Posted 8 months ago
Where are you going in Norway? You could hedge your bets by planning a day downhill too…. plenty of small downhill ski centres to choose from, even close to Oslo (e.g. http://www.oslovinterpark.no/oslo-winterpark)Posted 8 months ago
plenty of small downhill ski centres
Ah memories of my best ever day riding. We turned up to fresh snow everywhere and lifts not running
Me: oh no, you’re closed, what’s the problem?
Receptionist/lifty/cook:We’re not shut, it’s just you’re the only people here. Give me a minute and I’ll get the lift started…
Utterly blissful day doing laps through the trees over and over. Didn’t take our foot out of the rear bindings for about four hours. Just straight back onto the T bar and straight up the hill.Posted 8 months ago
oh the waxes!
This! Especially with classic. Wrong wax will make it hell. But the rental shop will hopefully sort you out.Posted 8 months ago
“oh the waxes! lets not get started on that!”
Looks like your a Swix man. Personally I’m more of a Rode when it’s cold and Swix for the warmer weather.
Isn’t “blue with a purple stripe” the default answer?Posted 8 months ago
I’ve tried cross-country a couple of times. I’m a reasonable downhill skier – can get down most black runs, albeit without any style or elegance – but I’m utterly useless at cross-country. I spent a day last year on the plateau around Hafjell and the only person I overtook was a toddler. It’s difficult, exhausting, and even a gentle downwards slope is terrifying, but I love it – there’s nothing to match the peace and beauty of heading off on a trail through the forests in the snow and mist.
Don’t worry about the kids – if they’re anything at all like ours they’ll leave you for dust [slush?]. And this year I’m going to have lessons…Posted 8 months ago
@sweaman I actually mostly use my skin skis now , they are great for 95% of what I do.
skarskidåkning is my favourite. Around March/ April we get the 5th season, spring winter, when temps rise above zero during the day.and.below zero at night, the sun is out and the days are long. The snow gets a hard crust in it which means you can ski across anything as you get the support from the crust. It’s magic,Posted 8 months ago
Classic cross-country skiing is about balance and rhythm before you get any significant speed going forward. Good fun but until you get the hang of it the skiing grandmothers will destroy you. 🙂
Dress similarly to running if skiing at any pace, typically you would wear thermal underwear under lightweight shell suit (closer to track suit actually) with breathable back for training but for lessons you might want to have bit more on.
^^Waxes are personal choice and dependent on location as well, Vauhti and Rex are local and usually good choices here. Rental skis are now usually skin/hairies type, no need to worry about waxes.Posted 8 months ago
I did loads of xc skiing when I was a kid, about 12-13yrs yrs old. we used to stay in Pontarlier, France, next to the Swiss border. I remember it being quite hard but not impossible, once you get a good rhythm going it’s fine.Posted 8 months ago
Not clear where exactly you are going but the “will I die” thing is mostly a function of the weather I’d have thought. I’ve skied a bit hut-to-hut in Sweden and Norway, the last time on my own, and after I got home I realised what a dumb thing to do it was – if the weather had changed I’d till be there sealed in a large ice cube.Posted 8 months ago
Every day is a purple day. 😁
I learned xc on tracks in Norway on army planks, so heavier kit. For me it was all about technique.
It helped with efficiency for ski touring which was the main goal.
I personally wouldn’t go on a full on xc holiday, maybe a day or 2 on the trails as part of a longer touring/alpine holiday.
Looking at the locals, it was like going out for a jog after work to them, so good fitness training.Posted 8 months ago
paul – yes we will be close enough to the Oslo Winterpark that if it is totally sole destroying we can switch to a day of Downhill. Also if the weather if guff we will be close enough to convert it to being a city break.
DrJ – I wasn’t so much worried about literally dying from exposure / mountain silliness (everything tells me downhill is far riskier and where we are going should not be avalanche territory – forrest trails), but the physical exhaustion. Some good advice here that give me a feel for how tough it will be and its obvious that not over dressing will be key (I suspect especially for the rest of the family who are wired up to multi-layer in snow). We’ll be skiing together so hopefully becoming trapped alone in an ice-cube will be avoided.Posted 8 months ago
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