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10 Reasons to Hate (or Love) Cross Country Skiing

by Karen Ung
Why you should hate (or love) cross country skiing
Growing up on the Wet Coast, I did a lot of outdoorsy stuff, rain or shine, but rarely got the chance to cross country ski and was okay with that. When we actually had snow, I was at Whistler, Seymour, Cypress or Grouse Mountain downhilling. Why on earth would I want to walk through the snow when there were glorious mountains to fly down? As a result, I didn’t get into cross country until seven years ago at the behest of my husband.
My first times out were on crappy Classic skis that had seen better days. After a few test runs at Canada Olympic Park, we went to the mountains. I quickly realized black runs were not for beginners and could appreciate that there was more to the sport than meets the eye. Trying to get down an icy slope alive, with insubstantial skis, was akin to sledding into trees with my eyes shut. Both methods would have the same survival rate, I swore, and swear I did… copiously. There may have been some screaming down Blueberry Hill along the lines of “Get out of the way! I can’t stop!! I will kill you! Can’t stop! Moooooove!!” Nevertheless, I stuck with the sport, but upgraded the seriously bad 20 year old skis… and we downgraded to blue trails so as not to pollute the woods with my profanities.
Cross country skiing in Pocaterra
Since I took up cross country, so many friends and relatives have asked, “Is it actually fun? What do you like about it? Isn’t it hard?” To all the haters, I give you:

10 Reasons To Hate (or Love) Cross Country Skiing

  1. It’s a cheap sport. When the kids ask if you can stop for McDonald’s on the way home, you can’t say no, because you didn’t spend a penny (besides gas) to ski.
  2. There aren’t a lot of people on the trail. You might ski for an hour to see a dozen skiers. Not good for single people; not good at all.
  3. You can actually find parking close to the trailhead so you don’t get to ride in the back of a truck or trailer to your car. You will miss out!
  4. It’s a real workout, so even if it’s cold out, you are toasty warm and maybe even sweaty. Bring deodorant or your stank ass might not get a ride home.
  5. You can tow your kids in a pulk or Chariot. Yes, that means no babysitter, but you are stuck with them… all day. The horror.
  6. The warming huts don’t serve booze. You have to bring your own (unless you are driving home after, then scratch that idea).
  7. No waiting around for lifts. There are no lineups for anything! What will you do with all that free time and no wifi?
  8. Lots of cross country skiers also backcountry ski, so they aren’t impressed by your out of bounds resort skiing. Gotta show off to a different crowd.
  9. The backcountry huts don’t have hot tubs. No biological soup for you!
  10. It’s a family friendly sport, so again, you are stuck with the kids. The kids might make friends with other kids and want to ski longer, making it a long day in the mountains. Who likes that?

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Playoutsidegal November 21, 2016 - 4:57 PM

Getting the wax right is tough in temps around 0 for sure. I've had a few "high heels" days, but since I discovered spray on klister, those warm weather days are quite pleasant! We even skiied in +12 this spring! Not as nice as -5, but still fun!

Ketutar November 19, 2016 - 11:49 PM

Yes 😀
If the equipment is adequate and in proper order, if there is enough snow and it's in proper order, and if everything is nice, it's one of the best things to do, ever.
If not, then it's mostly cold, wet (sweat AND melting snow) and makes me want to cry.

Playoutsidegal October 11, 2016 - 4:04 PM

I would rent equipment first and go with someone who can give you a few pointers or take a lesson. Canmore Nordic Centre offers lessons and if you're really keen, there are nordic ski clubs that offer weekly lessons throughout winter. There are also a lot of great videos on Youtube, but first time out, I'd definitely go with someone who can give you some pointers so you enjoy it. 🙂 First thing I was told to do was ski on one ski in the training area. Helps you get your balance and practice kicking and gliding. Then switch to the other side, then ski on both skis. Definitely stick to easy, flat trails your first several times out as it's quite different from downhill skiing! So fun once you get the hang of it!!

Unknown October 10, 2016 - 4:23 PM

Ok so I have lived here all my life and never tried the sport… but I've been having thoughts of trying it out this winter. Any thoughts on how a beginner can get started?

Playoutsidegal November 17, 2015 - 6:27 PM

I love how peaceful it is too!!!

Tanya Koob December 21, 2014 - 1:18 AM

LOVE. But you know that. 🙂
I don't want to drive out to the mountains, only to run into all of my next door neighbors and every person in Calgary skiing past me. I like the solitude and peace I find when x-country skiing. Just us and the moose, deer, bunnies, and a few other like-minded people who aren't cursing and telling crude jokes in line for the chairlift.

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