How to Start Cross-Country Skiing

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3. The Basic Movements

The basic cross-country technique, the diagonal stride, is like a powerful walk with help from your arms. And if you get tired, you can always downgrade to actual walking.

Glide: If you’re comfortable walking on skis, add glide. Step forward and transfer your weight to your front ski, compressing its kick zone, the area just in front of and under your boots that grips the snow. Pull the ski back like you’re scraping a shoe on the ground to propel yourself forward. Drive the opposite ski forward, transferring your weight onto it and enjoying a brief, free ride along the snow.

Use Your Arms: Plant your pole with the basket in line with the opposite foot and your arm extended in front of your shoulder. Your arms should swing front-to-back-to-front like pendulums, providing momentum as they come forward. Practice this by holding your poles midshaft and only using them to prevent a fall. This will also improve your balance and leg drive on each ski.

Go Uphill: When trails get steep, your kick zone won’t provide enough traction. The herringbone technique, which looks just like the pattern, can ascend any grade. Turn your feet out to form a V with your skis, and walk up the hill, planting your pole behind your boot.

4. How To Buy Skis

Your weight is the main factor in selecting skis, which are essentially leaf springs. When you step down on one ski, you want the kick zone to collapse and bite the snow. While gliding along with your weight on both skis, you want the kick zone floating above the track. Shorter skis are easier to control, so when in doubt, size down.

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