Cross Country Skiing

Cross-Country (XC) Skiing is a sub-category of Nordic skiing in which one uses skis and poles to tour across snow covered areas.  Historically, XC skiing was used as a method of transportation during winter.  While still used as transport by some, today it is mainly used for recreation and sport.

There are 2 main types of cross-country skiing: classic and skate.  As a side note, telemark skiing came from classic cross-country skiing and is loosely classified as a type of cross-country.  However, with modern skis, bindings, and boots, telemark skiing is on par with alpine (downhill) skiing.  It now resembles alpine touring more than cross country.  After all, telemark is just another style of turn for going downhill and has little to do with actual touring.

Classic XC skiing usually involves the use of a groomed trail(piste) with a set of established tracks.  Some Classic XC skis are built a little larger for off-piste(off trail) use but still benefit from a nice piste route.  The Classic XC technique is essentially a kick and glide.  The kick compresses the camber, or bend, of the ski allowing for either wax or scales in the middle of the ski to grasp the snow and the skier to push off.  The skier then uses that momentum to glide on the other ski.  The process is then repeated with the skier alternating which ski is kicking and which is gliding.  This is combined with a pole plant on the opposite side of the kick.

The use of wax or scales on the ski is based on which type of ski you are using.  A ski with no scales needs kick wax to grip the snow.  The type of kick wax used is based on the temperature in which you will be skiing.  Skis with scales on the bottom do not require kick wax for touring.  The scales do all the gripping while still allowing the ski to glide.  This has led to the term “waxless skis”.  While this type of ski does not require kick wax, they still require glide wax just like every other ski!!!

Skate skiing is done exclusively on piste or very firm snow.  Instead of relying on kick wax or scales, skate skiing uses the edge of the ski to push off of.  All the weight is then transferred onto the other ski, which is allowed to glide at an angle before repeating this modified kick and glide/skating motion.  The whole process looks a lot like someone ice skating.  Skate skiing can be done on both classic cross-country gear and specialize skate skiing gear.  Skate skis are usually stiffer and shorter than classic skis.  Skate poles are typically longer than classic poles.

At the Ashland Outdoor Store, we rent both Classic and Skate skis and poles.  None of our rental cross-country skis need kick wax for use.

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