Millions of people snow ski every winter all through the world.  I am one of those skiers and truly enjoy getting out on the slopes, strapping on my skis and heading down hill at breakneck speeds.  Well, at least I used to.  Now however I am older and much wiser and have learned that going downhill on a pair of skis, though it is fun and challenging, will eventually result in my demise or at the very least a broken bone or two.  Having learned this valuable lesson I went looking for a better way to enjoy the winter months while still being able to ski.  The answer I found was cross country skiing. 

Cross country skiing is a sport that is every bit as demanding as downhill skiing without the risk of falling off of the side of a mountain or plummeting headlong into an immoveable object such as a tree.  Yes, there are trees on the cross country trails.  And yes, you could hit one but it won’t be at such a speed that you’ll tear off a body part.  Now you can slip, fall, slide, glide and have a wonderful time in the snow on your cross country skis without great risk of bodily harm.

To cross country ski requires a new set of specialized skis and skills.  Let’s explore some of the equipment you’ll need and how it best fits your personal needs.

Two types of cross country skis dominate the market as of this writing.  The first one is called the touring ski.  It is a slightly longer ski and is narrower and lighter than the other type of ski called the metal edge touring ski.  Both types are generally used on the same trails but the metal edge skis allow the skier to glide over somewhat rougher snow than the regular touring ski without metal edges.  Also, the metal edge skis are slightly shorter and offer better maneuverability and are wider thereby offering more stability and flotation in deeper snow.  Metal edge skis get a better bite in the snow and work best in hard packed or icy snow conditions.  With metal edge skis you can turn better thereby helping you avoid those nasty nosedives into the snow.

Ski length is also a consideration when choosing your skis.  As technology has improved in the ski manufacturing market skis have become shorter.  As a general rule of thumb you should measure your ski length by raising your arm straight up and then chose a ski that comes from the ground up to your wrist.  You can go with a shorter ski. By doing so you’ll increase your ability to control them in rougher snow however shorter skis weigh a little more than the normal cross country ski they will be somewhat slower.  Choosing the ski that best fits your size and weight is important.  If you’re a little overweight it could be to your advantage to choose a ski that is a little wider which will help with the weight displacement while skiing.  If you are slight in build it would be wise to choose a longer, narrower ski.

Prices of your new skis vary from $35.00 for a short children’s ski with binding included to several hundred dollars for adult sized skis.  Of course this is just the beginning as you must add bindings, ski boots, and ski poles to your package before you can head out to the trails.  It is worth the expense though because the quality of skis these days assure you of a long life of your chosen ski package.  Before you know it you will be going over the river and through the woods as cross country skiing you go.

Happy Trails.