Cross-country skiing is a winter sport and recreational activity that involves skiing across snow-covered terrain typically over long distances. Unlike downhill skiing, where participants ski down slopes or mountain, cross-country skiing is across relatively flat or gently rolling terrain which means skiers rely on their own locomotion to move.
Cross-country skis are typically longer and narrower than downhill skis, and the have a binding system that allows the heel to lift off the ski, facilitating a walking or gliding motion. There are various types of cross-country skis designed for different purposes, such as classic skiing (striding in tracks) and skate skiing (a side-to-side skating motion). Additionally, participants use poles to help with balance and propulsion.
Cross-country skiing is known for its endurance demands, as it requires sustained effort over long distances. Skiers can participate in races, marathons or simply to enjoy a leisurely ski through scenic winter landscapes.
Cross-country skiing has ancient origins, dating back thousands of years when early humans in snowy regions used skis for transportation and survival.
It has played a significant role in military operations throughout history. Armies in Scandinavia and Russia used skis for their mobility advantages in snowy and rugged terrains. During World War II, cross-country skiing remained an essential mode of transport for soldiers in snow-covered regions.
By the 19th century, cross-country skiing transitioned to a sport and recreational pastime. Men’s cross-country skiing has been contested at the Winter Olympic Games since the first Winter Games in 1924.0The women’s events were first contested at the1952 Winter Olympics.
Cross-country skiing has been the major part of the World Transplant Winter Games since the inaugural Games in Tignes, France in 1994. Transplant recipients from eighteen countries took part in this first Winter Games.
In 2018, at the 10th Winter Games in Anzere, Switzerland, living donors and donor families competed in cross-country for the first time.
Cross-country skiing provides an excellent full-body workout, as it engages the legs, arms, core and cardiovascular system. It can help improve endurance, strength and overall fitness.
Additionally, it offers a peaceful way to explore winter landscapes, enjoy the tranquillity of nature and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
As well as warm, practical ski clothing all you need to get started is a pair of cross-country skis, a pair of boots to go with them and a set of poles – these can be booked at the local ski hire shop. There are different types of cross-country skis and poles depending whether you intend to ski on a prepared groomed track or off-trail. The ski shop can help you with this.
It is a good idea to take lessons before your first time on cross-country skis. Most ski schools offer courses for cross-country skiing – with some expert advice, you will be able to fully enjoy your cross-country skiing experience. It is recommended that, for your first cross-country skiing experiences, you take things slowly and choose a flat, easy trail that’s not too long.