5 Tips for beginners to cross-country skiing
Equipment, clothing, main techniques: we interviewed Roberto, a ski instructor, to learn the secrets of this sport
Cross-country skiing is a complete sport, which combines the benefits of sport activity with the pleasure of enjoying the landscape while skiing in the midst of nature, at a slow pace. Trentino is the right place to practice it and where many races are held. The most important is the Marcialonga, the most prominent Granfondo race in Italy featuring a staggering 70km long course across Valle di Fassa and Val di Fiemme.
It’s one of the most followed races in the world of cross-country skiing, but also a celebration that gathers a passionate crowd of professional athletes, fervent supporters, sporting experts and amateurs on the last Sunday of January in Trentino.
Following the most recent Marcialonga, we caught up with Roberto, one of the ski instructors at Scuola Italiana Sci Fondo Viote. The Viote Ski Centre offers an extensive network of cross-country skiing tracks stretching across more than 35km of terrain at the foot of the Three Peaks of Mount Bondone. We asked Roberto to share some tips on how to get started with this beautiful discipline that combines physical activity and enjoyment of exploring the landscape in a different prospective.
Here are Roberto’s best tips:
- First, let’s introduce the concept of this sport: cross-country skiing is a winter sport, one of the Nordic skiing disciplines. It is based on the simple method of propelling yourself forward on snowy terrain with the aid of ski poles and narrow skis. There are two basic techniques: the diagonal step or “classic”, used predominantly on groomed pistes, which involves keeping the skis inside two carved parallel grooves, and the “skating” style practised on smoothed open terrain without grooves, characterized by the method of pushing the skis outwards at an angle. We advise beginners to start with the classic technique to grasp the basics and gain confidence.
- You can start at any age. Some approach the sport from the very young age of three. First you need to find a good Cross-country ski centre where you can hire the equipment and take lessons under the guidance of a qualified ski instructor to learn the fundamentals like pushing off, gliding and breaking.
- Choose the right gear. In terms of clothing, we recommend sportswear suitable for high altitude trekking: layers of breathable and comfortable material for warmth and practicality. Size and type of ski poles depend on the style of choice: as a general guideline, for the classic technique poles should reach up to the chin, while the skate technique requires poles reaching up to the tip of the nose.
- Generally, you can enjoy Cross-country skiing from November to late March. This winter sport offers the great advantage of exploring the stunning alpine landscape at your own pace and the perfect canvas for photography enthusiasts. If you are practicing the classic style and wish to take a picture, we recommend stepping out of the grooves and leaving the track free for your fellow skiers.
- The health benefits of this sport are multiple and important. Cross-country skiing is a coordinated and elegant sport that will also test your endurance! It’s a full-body workout which stimulates your cardiovascular system, strengthen your core and flex your muscles building your stamina steadily. Finally, thanks to its balanced impact on the body, this sport helps with maintaining yourself in a toned and lean shape