Cross-country skiing, frequently abbreviated as XC skiing, is one of the winter sports where players push themselves over snow-covered territories using skis and poles. It is mostly well known in places with large fields of snow, which can be found mainly in Northern Europe, Canada, and Alaska.
This winter sport is widely acknowledged as one of the healthiest. The movement is subtle and easy to the muscles. It uses major muscle groups, burns fat, tones the body and works to improve the cardiovascular system. Some people are annoyed by the snow but for those who are health-oriented, cross-country skiing is an exercise and an adventure.
Cross-country skiing came from prehistoric times in Fennoscandian countries such as the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Kola Peninsula, Karelia and Finland. It was used to move from one place to another during winter. Hunting elk, deer and other animals was done through cross-country skiing and until now, these countries carry the strong tradition of regularly using skis in their everyday activities.
Skiing is categorized into Nordic and Alpine. Cross-country skiing is part of the Nordic sports group, which also includes:
- ski jumping
- a combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping called Nordic combined
Nordic skiing is a winter sport that includes all types of skiing. The most popular type of Nordic skiing is "cross country". In Nordic skiing, the ski used has the boot attached to the toe only so that the heel can move up and down freely. Nordic skiing is older than Alpine skiing.
Nordic skiing is normally for terrains that are less steep. The three binding systems used in modern cross-country skiing are:
- New Nordic Norm or NNN
- SNS (Salomon Nordic System) Profil
- SNS Pilot
There are two main types of cross-country skiing.
- Classical is often used on prepared matching trails or pistes, which was already cut into the snow. The skis are moved front to back, mostly in straight line, on the prepared trails. The basic methods of classic skiing are classified by flat terrain, uphill, downhill and turning.
- Freestyle cross-country skiing is much faster. The skiers push on each ski every time they take a stride but they do not go down steep slopes. Skiers do air tricks and jumps and skis are angled at about 40 degrees. However, freestyle is not always allowed because it destroys the track for the other skiers.
Alpine skiing is a winter sport and recreational activity, which involves sliding down snow-covered hills with long, thin skis attached to each foot. The skis used are fixed-heel bindings. In this type of skiing, the toe is fixed firmly to the ski, but the heel is free.
In competitive alpine skiing races, four disciplines exist:
- giant slalom
- super giant slalom
Alpine winter sports are popular in countries where there is a combination of snow and mountain slopes in which, a foundation for alpine skiing can be constructed. These countries include much of Europe, North America, and Japan.
Alpine skiing, whether recreational or competitive, is done in a ski resort facility, which transports skiers to the mountains where the snow is groomed, landslides are controlled and the trails are cleared. If the skier prefers to ski in a less guarded environment, it is diversely called ski touring, backcountry skiing, or extreme skiing.
- Racing – this combines endurance, speed and strength with tactics and technique.
- Adventure – is everywhere where there is snow. It could be an adventure, an exercise or a relief for the mind and soul.
- Backcountry – defies the limit of exploring new territories. It has no rules; you define what you want for the love of snow.
Since cross-country skiing is an outdoor sport, GPS had always been the best tool to ensure everyone's safety. A GPS device paired with one of the best GPS app will provide accuracy in mapping a location, record a track and define waypoints. It will guide you from veering off course in the snow trails.
Enjoy the snow and take care.