The First Steps to Learning Cross-country Skiing
There are two approaches to learning almost any sport. You can read a few books on the subject and then teach yourself through trial and error, or you can take lessons from someone experienced in the sport. If youÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’re a natural born athlete, the first approach might work great for you but for the average individual it is far better to take a few lessons from an expert at first. Getting started out on the right foot or ski, so to speak, can save you from serious spills, sprains, and even broken bones. Many cross-country skiing resorts offer short beginner courses as part of the resorts package deal.
Getting started in cross-country skiing
1. The first step to learning cross-country skiing is to find a resort near you that offers beginnerÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’s lessons. For links to most cross-country skiing resorts in the US that are recognized by the Cross-Country Skiing Association go to Cross-Country Skiing Online.
2. In the beginning, rent your equipment at the resort, or, if the resort doesnÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’t rent equipment, rent it the day before from a sporting goods store the day before. The cost of renting boots, skis and poles are relatively reasonable, about $20 a day at most shops. Once you know for certain that the sport is right for you, you can invest in your own equipment. Cross-country skiing equipment is cheaper than its downhill cousin but itÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’s still expensive.
3. Dress appropriately. You donÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’t want to wear too many layers because cross-country skiing is a lot like snowshoeing, you warm up quickly and you donÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’t want to get really sweaty. A nice warm pair of wool boot socks, base-layer pants and a long-sleeved shirt is good for the first layer. Then pull on a pair of waterproof pants and a fleece pullover for the second layer. Top that off with a soft-shell or light weight jacket and youÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’re good to go. Oh, yeah, donÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’t forget a nice warm hat and gloves.
4. Use a fanny pack to carry drinking water, a cell phone, a camera or whatever else you really need to carry safely, like your money, credit cards, keys, etc.
5. Practice your new skills at a resort on well groomed trails. Once you become competent on your skis, then itÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’s time to move out into uncharted territory where danger may lurk around every twist and turn.
A word of warning
Avoid skiing down steep hills until you have mastered the ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â“snowplowÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â” or ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â“Pizza wedgeÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â” maneuver. Unlike downhill skis, cross-country skis donÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’t have a metal edge so you canÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â’t stop by putting pressure on your downhill ski as you turn sideways to the slope because there is no metal edge to cut into the snowy slope. The only way to stop on cross-country skis is by employing the ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â“Pizza WedgeÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â” maneuver. As you begin to accelerate, bend your knees and push out with your ankles. The tips of your skis will form the tip of the pizza wedge and the inside edges of your skis will begin to dig into the snow. Obviously this is a much slower way to stop then the stop made on downhill skis so always allow yourself enough time to stop before you run out of stopping room. That kind of skill in judging stopping distance only comes through practice, so go slowly.