Cross Country Skiing Tips

Read these 5 Cross Country Skiing Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Skiing tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How should I dress for cross country skiing?

How to Choose Cross Country Ski Clothing

Dressing for cross country skiing can be tricky and challenging. On the one hand, you want to be sure to dress warmly. However, many people tend to underestimate the exertion required for this exhilarating sport. If you overdress, after about 30 minutes of skiing, you might find yourself overheated. Also, if your clothing does not have sufficient wicking capabilities, you will feel wet, and will ultimately end up feeling too cold. On the other hand, if your cross country ski clothing is not warm enough, you run the risk of frost bite and hypothermia.

Most savvy cross country skiers know that dressing in layers is the best choice for warmth and comfort. Begin with a wicking layer of clothing that is composed of synthetic fabrics. Keep in mind that cotton does not have wicking properties, so it should not be used for cross country skiing. Wicking long underwear is available in different weights. If you tend to exert yourself, use lighter weight long underwear. Cross country skiers who ski at leisurely pace, or skiers who ski in exceptionally cold climates, should choose warmer long underwear.

What should I look for in a cross country ski glove?

How to Choose Cross Country Ski Gloves

There is nothing worse than frost-bitten hands while cross-country skiing. Even if you don't get frostbite, if your hand are cold, the rest of your body will also feel cold. While many people try to spare expenses when choosing cross country ski gloves, that is really not advisable. Here are some factors to take into consideration when buying cross country ski gloves.

  1. To prevent heat escape, be sure that the gloves taper toward the wrist. Choose ski gloves with velcro or buckle closures.
  2. Choose gloves that are specifically designed for skiing. These provide hand flexibility that can not be found in traditional winter gloves or snowboard gloves.
  3. If you ski in extremely cold weather, choose gloves with an insulating layer. These can be composed of either fleece or a synthetic fabric known as Thermacore.
  4. Certain types of gloves feature built in nose wipes and goggle wipes.
  5. The best ski gloves are made from breathable synthetic fabrics or leather.

What are the best fabrics for the insulation layer of cross country ski clothing?

Insulation and Outer Layers for Cross Country Skiing

The insulation layer of your cross country ski clothing should be quick drying, lightweight, comfortable and thermally efficient. These layers should also provide freedom of movement. The three most popular materials used for cross country ski clothing are fleece, wool and lycra/spandex.

Wool's popularity is based on its durability, as well as its capacity to keep you warm even when it is wet. It is best for backcountry skiers that ski in poor weather conditions. Fleece is popular because it is lighter than wool and has a faster drying time. It's perfect for skiing in moderate weather. Lycra/spandex is a favorite of racers who want low wind-drag along with limited insulation.

Your outer layer of cross country ski clothing should be composed of a waterproof, breathable fabric. For warmer days, choose a wind/water resistant shell jacket. Gloves should be waterproof or water resistant. Since most heat escapes from the top of your head, be sure to wear a hat. Finally, even on cloudy days, be sure to wear sunscreen.

What is the advantage of a stiff flex cross country ski?

Camber, Flex and Wax for Cross Country Touring Skis

The cross country ski camber refers to the pronounced arch at the center. Since it is held off the surface of the snow, it must be weighted in order to get traction. This type of camber is essential for the performance of the classic kick and glide cross country ski technique. The flex of the ski influences its ability to grip the snow when the skier applies his or her weight to it. If you tend to stay on groomed tracks, because of their gliding efficiency, stiff-flexed skis are your best choice. Most stiff flexed skis have flexible tips, which assist the skier in staying on the pre-made tracks.

Your next point of consideration is one that is often subject to debate: The advantages of waxed vs. non-waxed cross country skis. While non-wax skis might be easier to care for, waxable skis have been known to consistently out perform the non-waxable models.

What differentiates skate skis from touring skis?

Cross Country Skate Skis

Since cross country skate technique involves picking the ski up off the ground with each forward stride, in general, cross country skate skis are shorter and lighter than touring skis. However, they must be long enough to provide sufficient glide and stability.

Because of a need for maximum push off, skate skis have little or no side cut. In fact, most skate skis are wider at the waist. This provides a solid edge for skating movements. Skate skis are also relatively narrow, which makes them built for speed. They are also similar to alpine skis in that they have less pronounced camber than touring skis. This allows for a more efficient push-off. Since skate skiing is performed on hard pack snow, cross country skating skis are usually stiff-flexed.

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Jolyn Wells-Moran