You have never skied before
1 – There are two basic types of cross-country skiing. One is classic skiing and the other skate skiing.
Needless to say, skate skiing resembles skating or roller-blading. Although it is faster than classic skiing, it requires more physical effort, greater know-how, and skate skiing equipment. The boots are more rigid to better support the ankle, the skies are shorter and will slide more as there is no kick section in the centre of the ski, and the poles are longer.
Classic-skiing involves moving the skies parallel to one another. It is easier than skate skiing and require less physical effort, but it is slower. Although many people do their classic-skiing on groomed trails (where two tracks or slots are set in the snow), it is possible to do this type of skiing in the absence of any groomed trails at all. When you go off the groomed trails, it’s called back-country skiing and some equipment is specialized for back-country skiing. Most of the rental classic skis are waxless skis that have ‘fish scales’ bases – a bottom surface that has a textures pattern similar to fish scales to stop the skis from slipping backward.
2 – How to dress
Unlike winter outdoor recreations such as downhill skiing, snowmobiling or ice-fishing, your skiing activity will generate warmth and some perspiration, so wearing layered breathable fabrics – ideally with an outer windproof shell – are the key to staying comfortably warm and dry. The key to staying comfortable and warm is by dressing in layers.
• Start by putting on your inner layer of thermal underwear and undershirt. Try to choose a fiber blend for your “long johns” that will wick away the sweat from your body as you ski. NO COTTON!
• Suit up with your thermal middle layer. Pick out a fleece or synthetic pull-over that is stretchy or loose to allow freedom of movement.
• Pick a pair of outer pants that are both water and wind-resistant. NO JEANS!
• Look for the same qualities in your jacket (outer layer). It should be lighter than a downhill skiing jacket, but it still needs to protect you from cold wind and wet snow.
• Dress in warm and comfortable socks. Just as with your inner layer, you should select a pair that will wick away moisture as you exert yourself. NO COTTON!
• The head is important for body heat regulation. Wearing a toque will help retain heat and keep the hands and feet warm. Taking the toque off will help you cool down quickly. On very cold days add a neck warmer.
• Find mitts or ski gloves that will keep your hands warm while still allowing you to handle your poles with ease. Mitts are preferable.
• Bring a water bottle. You WILL be thirsty!
3 – A few steps on how to learn
The secret of skiing – whether classic or skate technique – is glide. And the secret of glide is … take a lesson! Even just a one-hour lesson will help you tremendously. If you are interested, take a look at the ‘lessons and clinics’ section of our web site.
Here is a short and very simple video that will introduce a few basic concepts of classic skiing – the diagonal stride, the double pole, the snowplow, herringbone, and the tuck.
Interested in skate skiing? This video will provide you with a few basics. Skate skiing will take longer to learn and master.
While you are on the trails, do not hesitate to ask fellow skiers for some advice.