Cross-country skiing

From Academic Kids

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Skiing by free technique/skating

Cross-country skiing (aka XC skiing) is an adventure and fitness activity as well as a competitive winter sport popular in many countries with large snowfields, primarily in Europe and Canada.

XC skiing as a sport is part of the Nordic skiing family, which also includes ski jumping, and a combination sport of XC skiing and skijumping called Nordic combined. Free technique XC skiing (see below for techniques) is also the method of locomotion in the combination sport of Biathlon, which adds rifle shooting to the skiing. As an adventure or leisure activity, XC skiing may be viewed as a kind of "bushwalking on skis", where skiers tackle trails of various lengths and difficulties. Some skiers stay out for extended periods using tents and equipment similar to bushwalkers, others take relatively short trips from ski resorts. There is also the possibility of using huts provided along some tourist trails, or to go by skis from private wood cabins in the mountains to visit other recreational cabin dwellers in the area.



The skis are long and thin to distribute the weight of the skier and allow her/him to move quickly. Typical ski dimensions are length 2 m (6–7 ft), width 5–6 cm (2 in) and thickness 1 cm (½ in). Like downhill skiers, XC skiers carry two poles, usually made of aluminium, fiberglass more expensive poles are made of graphite or some other light material with a spike at the end to provide a fixed pivot when the pole penetrates through to a hard surface, and a plastic ring (or "basket") both to provide maximum impetus from thick snow and to ensure the pole only goes to its designed embedding depth, so as to optimise the angle of arm force. The skier's footwear is attached to the ski with a binding. There are many different types of bindings and boots, more or less standard (some even proprietary) and so it is important to choose corresponding pieces of equipment.

Equipment, and in particular skis and poles differ depending on the desired skiing technique. Skating or Freestyle poles are usually longer than those used for the Classical technique. Typically skating poles should reach either the skiers chin or up as long as the eye brows depeding of skier preference. In contrast classical ski poles would of a legth so that they reach the skier's arm pit.

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Finnish soldiers on skis. Virtually every infantry soldier is given ski training in the army.


There are a wide variety of waxes for Nordic Skiing. The waxes can be classified into two main categories: Glide and Kick waxes. Glide waxes are ironed onto a ski and used to make a ski glide faster. Glide waxes range in price from $5-$200, depending on if you are training or need a race wax. Glide waxes are applied to the full length of skate skis, and outside the kick zone of classic skis. Kick waxes are used on classic skis. Kick waxes are applied in the 'kick zone' of classic skis if the ski is not a fish scale type ski. Kick waxes are used to get a grip on snow. When snow becomes old, refrozen, and/or warm (35 degrees plus), a different type of kick wax called klister is used. Klisters are extremely sticky and get a grip on snow, but are hard to remove.

A recreational Classical skier might decide not to worry about waxing skis and select a waxless classical skis. There are various types of waxeless skis, the most popular being the "fishscale" ski.

The more serious recreational Classical skier will achieve better performance ( ie better/faster glide on the downhill sections and better grip on the uphill sections)by selecting a ski that requires waxing. They will wax approximately the middle half of the ski with a grip wax and the two outer quaters of the ski ( tip and tail) with a glide wax.

The serious Classical racer will purchase skis of a stiffness that matches their weight and wax the skis in a similar way to the serious recreational classical skier but will use better more expensive waxes. Waxing the kick zone (center half)and glide (tip and tail) zones to match their technical ability.


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Cross-country skiing originated in Scandinavian countries in prehistoric times. It may have also been practiced by Native Americans for similar lengths of time, although the Norwegians Snowshoe Thompson and Jackrabbit Johannsen are widely credited for introducing the sport to North America.[[1] (] This sport has been used by explorers by means of transport, and all Scandinavian armies train their infantry on skis for winter operations. Traditionally, all of the equipment was made of natural materials: wooden skis and bamboo poles with leather hand straps. Footwear was usually sturdy leather boots with thick soles. Bindings evolved from simple straps made of twisted wood-based thread, to the so-called Kandahar binding with the fastening of both the boots front and back, to the Rats Trap front-only binding, which became various modern bindings.

Sports events

Today, there are several types of cross-country competitive events, involving races of various types and lengths, as well as the biathlon, involving a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The Winter Olympics, FIS World Championships and FIS World Cup events have long been a showcase for the world's fastest cross country skiers. There are also special extreme distance ski races, sometimes called ski marathons, like Vasaloppet, in Sweden, the oldest, longest, are used: only one of them in a given race, or, in case of the so-called "double pursuit" event, the two styles are used each in their own separate half of the race (with a change of equipment in "pit stops" half way through).


There are three main techniques used in XC skiing. Specially adapted equipment is available to suit each.

The Classical technique was the first technique that was used and although not the fastest (in the same way as the breaststroke swimming technique) it is still used today by many, especially beginners, as it tends to be the simpler easier to learn, but take many years to get really good.

The skating Technique, developed as a result of racing and is harder to learn but once mastered the skiers can travel much faster. Skating can also be mastered faster than classical.

Telemarking is a technique used to go down hill on Cross country skis. Usually the skiers will use the classical technique for going up the hill and telemarking to ski down steep downhills.


To move when on level ground or uphill whilst using the classical style, cross-country skiers slide one ski forward and reach with the arm on the other side to implant the pole in the snow in front of them, then pull on the pole to accelerate themselves along. They then lift the pole out of the snow and repeat the process with the other side of the body, hopefully maintaining momentum and achieving a smooth, energy-saving rhythm.

When reaching a downhill slope, they are able to coast down in a similar manner to downhill skiing, or may use Telemark technique - see below.

The classical style is often performed on prepared trails (pistes) that have pairs of parallel grooves cut into the snow, one for each ski, and consequently a special long, narrow and light ski is usually used. The skis used either have a fish-scale underside, or ski wax is applied to the central section in the centre of the ski, so that when the skier kicks the ski into the snow it grips, allowing the skier to move forward.

When skiing away from prepared trails, a much wider ski is usually used. When used by the local population of flat regions, such as parts of Finland, the skis may also be much longer, sometimes exceeding 3 or 4 m (yards) in length.

Freestyle technique

Freestyle technique, aka skating, involves the skier pushing one ski outward with the ski angled, so that the inner edge of the ski is driven against the snow, much like an ice skater. It is also important to balance on one ski to be efficient. Skis tend to be shorter than those used in classical technique, and poles longer. There is also no fish scale or sticky wax applied and no kick area. There are various combinations of ski and pole movements to suit the terrain and conditions. The technique is only suitable for use on prepared trails (pistes) or those with firm, smooth snow. In some places where the snow melts slightly at the beginning of spring a person can ski on the crust.


See the main article Telemark skiing for details.

The Telemark technique is particularly suited to backcountry skiing (off piste cross-country skiing). While first and foremost it is a technique for descending, for those with dedicated equipment it is effectively a separate branch of skiing that takes place in the backcountry (off piste).

See also

External links

de:Skilanglauf es:Esqu de fondo o nrdico et:Murdmaasuusatamine fr:Ski de fond it:Sci di fondo ja:クロスカントリースキー nl:Langlaufen nb:Langrenn nn:Langrenn sv:Lngdkning


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