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I promised myself I'd never do this. but I think I want to cross country ski

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I've always told myself and others that I only do the "real" skiing--alpine. I think I've finally come to my senses and realized the opportunities XC has for me. The nearest downhill skiing is an hour and a half away and a season pass is more than I can afford (or use at that distance). There is a XC center fifteen minutes from my house with 30 KM of groomed trails. I could easily get over there after work or on a weekend, but I have no idea where to start.

 

I can probably get some cheap used skis and boots at my local ski shop. A season pass to the ski area is $90. I did XC once when I was in elementary school and did better than anyone else in my class in it (probably being the only one with skiing experience helped), but I'm not sure what the technique is. How many lessons does it take to get the hang of it. Starting downhill skiing usually takes some time, but is picking up XC easier? Should I have a good enough base with downhill skiing to pickup cross country on my own? Also what should I look for in a pair of skis and boots?

post #2 of 26

Any insight people can offer tylrwnzl would be much appreciated, as it appears I won't be doing any alpine for at least another year.

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSloan View Post

Any insight people can offer tylrwnzl would be much appreciated, as it appears I won't be doing any alpine for at least another year.



I see you're from Pittsburgh area. Crystal Lake (the XC place near my house) claims they are the only (that they are aware of) full service cross country ski area in the state. The ski center manager also runs a bed and breakfast two miles from the center if you end up picking up XC this winter. They even have a member of Taiwan's XC team who competed at SLC and Turin that drives up from Philadelphia to train there.

 

post #4 of 26

Age, fitness level? Take a lesson, don't buy equipment till you know more.I'm real partial toward skating.It's faster and you only wax for glide.However, it does require a higher fitness level than diagonal striding.Skate skiing is a complete body workout, if done right it uses upper body and core quite a bit.It's a very pleasing, rhythmic motion and easy on the bod, especially the joints.As far as picking it up on your own, it's just like alpine skiing: you will learn faster and not pick up bad habits if you take some lessons.My experience with turning downhill skiiers on to cross country has been that it's pretty hard for them.Downhill skiiers are use to 5 pound boots and 10 pound skis that will blast thru anything and edge without even thinking about it.Cross country skiing is about finesse,being light on your feet, and sometimes being on the edge of disaster.It's a great sport with some great people.It can be whatever you want it to be: a stroll in the park, a trip to the top of a peak or like bike racing in many ways-intense pack racing where you are trying not to scrub speed on the downhills.

post #5 of 26

I've been XC skiing for 40 years. Done some teaching and live in a "ski out the back door" house. If you like snow and you like being outside, you should love XC. Much easier that alpine to become proficient. You alpine background will obviously help on the down hills. Take a lesson or two. Here, our club offers a series of 6 lessons and most students are quite good at the end. At the beginning, look to gain efficiency with good technique rather that speed. Just like in alpine. Just like alpine, you'll get better if you practice what you pick up in lessons. Equipment wise, I'd suggest waxless skis at first and skate skis later if your into intense exercise.  I see a lot of older used skis here on CL that can be had for $20-$50. Length is more a matter of your weight than your height. Longer for heavier. That said, if your skis are a little short, you'll get better grip. A little long and you have more glide. Have fun!! Oh, and you'll probably tend to over dress at first.

 

Keep at it and in a few seasons you can do something like this

 

https://picasaweb.google.com/111464131407795442685/HogLoppet2010#

 

 

post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by xcsteve View Post

Age, fitness level? Take a lesson, don't buy equipment till you know more.I'm real partial toward skating.It's faster and you only wax for glide.However, it does require a higher fitness level than diagonal striding.Skate skiing is a complete body workout, if done right it uses upper body and core quite a bit.It's a very pleasing, rhythmic motion and easy on the bod, especially the joints.As far as picking it up on your own, it's just like alpine skiing: you will learn faster and not pick up bad habits if you take some lessons.My experience with turning downhill skiiers on to cross country has been that it's pretty hard for them.Downhill skiiers are use to 5 pound boots and 10 pound skis that will blast thru anything and edge without even thinking about it.Cross country skiing is about finesse,being light on your feet, and sometimes being on the edge of disaster.It's a great sport with some great people.It can be whatever you want it to be: a stroll in the park, a trip to the top of a peak or like bike racing in many ways-intense pack racing where you are trying not to scrub speed on the downhills.


XCsteve, where do you go in our area?  Any recommended instructors?

 

post #7 of 26

tylrwnzl,

there's a few things you should be aware of when buying or renting XC skis.

 

Diagonal stride skis meant for waxing :

The waxing isn't such a big deal, especially if you're used to waxing alpine skis, but they work on a different system. What's most important is that you get skis suited for your weight, with the correct stiffness or "span" as we call it up here. You have two wax-zones; tip and tail is for glider, in the middle of the ski (lenghtwise) is the "grip-zone" where the suitable wax of the day is applied. This will (should ) be clearly marked with two lines on the sidewall by the shop. Ideally, the span/stiffness of the ski enables this zone to not be in contact with the snow when gliding forward, and when diagonal striding "sink" down ( all your weight is on one ski ) and grip, giving you purchase and momentum to propel you forward.Any ski shop selling XC skis will have an apparatus for determining the correct stiffness, if they don't I'd go elsewhere. If you're gonna iron in the wax you want two different irons, one for glider and one for grip wax. If you only use one iron, use it for glider only and use a cork for the grip wax. This is to ensure you don't get grip wax in the glide zone.

 

Waxless skis :

They're not really waxless, you will want to wax the glide zones, while the grip zone has scales, rendering grip wax unnecessary. A good choice when starting XC skiing. Span/stiffness is less important in this kind of ski.

 

Skate skis :

A totally different ski. You glide wax the whole surface. These skis are only usable in tracks groomed for skating, and IMHO something you might wanna try when proficient in diagonal stride. That's the Norwegian model, anyway ( and it's our national sport and arguably our invention ).

 

If you're getting used skis, remember that span/stiffness is much more important in skis meant for waxing. If you can, bring a friend who's a ( good ) XC skier to help you.

 

XC is a  different experience than alpine skiing, both are very fun.

 

Good luck & Happy Skiing!

 

Mads

 

 

 

post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the input so far. To answer the above question I am 18 years old, about 6 foot tall and a little over 200 lbs. Physically I would say I am in good shape, I'm not going to go out and run a marathon, but I can run a 5K in about 32 minutes and being young helps.

 

I seem to be conflicting opinions above though. Should I rent or buy initially? Also what price range would I be looking at with used equipment?

post #9 of 26

XC is really a great activity for many of the same reasons hiking and long distance cycling are fun. I agree that lessons help but, if you can walk, you can diagonal stride/classic technique XC. I also agree that classic is the technique you should start with. Skate skiing, while fun, is pretty much limited to groomed trails.

 

I have a different opinion about the gear, tho...and my reason is this. I've had 2 right knee reconstructive surgeries with no medical meniscus left after surgery #2 and a slight contraction deformity left over (I can't fully straighten out my right leg). I've had 2 left ankle reconstructive surgeries with a cadaveric bone and cartilage graft to repair an osteonecrotic talus bone and a residual ankle contracture that requires me to use orthotics. I buy the stuff I use right off the bat so I can adjust it to my lower extremities and not have to worry about variability from setup to setup. I bought the Atomic gear I learned on prior to my first lesson. The boots I got-touring boots-were not supportive enough, but skate boots are great. So I ski skate and classic with skate boots. So, if you over pronate or have "weak ankles" don't be afraid to ask for skate boots with your first rental/lessons...

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wooley12 View Post

I've been XC skiing for 40 years. Done some teaching and live in a "ski out the back door" house. If you like snow and you like being outside, you should love XC. Much easier that alpine to become proficient. You alpine background will obviously help on the down hills. Take a lesson or two. Here, our club offers a series of 6 lessons and most students are quite good at the end. At the beginning, look to gain efficiency with good technique rather that speed. Just like in alpine. Just like alpine, you'll get better if you practice what you pick up in lessons. Equipment wise, I'd suggest waxless skis at first and skate skis later if your into intense exercise.  I see a lot of older used skis here on CL that can be had for $20-$50. Length is more a matter of your weight than your height. Longer for heavier. That said, if your skis are a little short, you'll get better grip. A little long and you have more glide. Have fun!! Oh, and you'll probably tend to over dress at first.

 

Keep at it and in a few seasons you can do something like this

 

https://picasaweb.google.com/111464131407795442685/HogLoppet2010#

 

 




What wooley12 said plus this:

1) XC skiing (or any skiing away from a lift) is quiet.  That is a type of relaxation and peacefulness not found in lift operated alpine skiing.

2) Take a little wax with you on the warmer days if using "waxless" skis.  You will be glad you did.  Spray-on or rub-on works OK when the snow gets really sticky and clumps attacked themselves to the "waxless" bottoms under foot.

3) A light knapsack/hydration pack is a must.  You will need the H20 and space since one layer too much tends to be one very uncomfortable layer too much.

4) It is fun to go out and Nordic ski with friends under a full moon.  A great safe place to do this is on a local golf course or field that has tracks laid out on gentle terrain.

5) Nordic skiing can help your balance on alpine skis.

 

Several other posters correctly (IMHO) mentioned lessons.  I once lived in Vail and took a day of Nordic lessons (1989 or 1990) taught by a PSIA demo team.  After lunch on the top of Beaver Creek, all the tourists bagged it so the 4 instructors tagged teamed me (I was soon wiped out) with great instruction.  I learned that there are a lot of "tricks" to poling. gliding, etc.  I also made my first telemark turns on the easy way down (with no edges).  Even today, when I skate  on alpine skis, I pole using my stomach muscles and use other techniques I learned that day.  A lesson or two is well worth it since it will help your Nordic and Alpine experience.

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylrwnzl View Post

Thanks for all the input so far. To answer the above question I am 18 years old, about 6 foot tall and a little over 200 lbs. Physically I would say I am in good shape, I'm not going to go out and run a marathon, but I can run a 5K in about 32 minutes and being young helps.

 

I seem to be conflicting opinions above though. Should I rent or buy initially? Also what price range would I be looking at with used equipment?


 

Running -definitely- helps with conditioning for XC skiing, so does cycling.    Beyond conditioning,  you just need a bit of  balance and body awareness, and the ability to not freak out on downhills because you (probably) have no edges.

 

 

There are very few places near you to rent.    There are very, very few places that are groomed for skating, so chances are your first experience will be just kick and glide (diagonal stride).

 

Get some boots, you can pick up skis and bindings later for cheap.

post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post




 

Running -definitely- helps with conditioning for XC skiing, so does cycling.    Beyond conditioning,  you just need a bit of  balance and body awareness, and the ability to not freak out on downhills because you (probably) have no edges.

 

 

There are very few places near you to rent.    There are very, very few places that are groomed for skating, so chances are your first experience will be just kick and glide (diagonal stride).

 

Get some boots, you can pick up skis and bindings later for cheap.


The local XC area is groomed for skating and offers rentals. Only place in PA to do that and it's about 15 mins. from my house.
post #13 of 26

Here ya go

 

http://harrisburg.craigslist.org/spo/2563066294.html  (Good starter for you if it's nearby)

 

http://harrisburg.craigslist.org/spo/2559228989.html             (Size?)

 

Go Green!! (and cheap) Keep shopping CL

post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylrwnzl View Post



The local XC area is groomed for skating and offers rentals. Only place in PA to do that and it's about 15 mins. from my house.


 

Sweet.    No reason to buy skate gear then, unless you just happen to like skate boots and want to use them on everything.

 

 

Rent the skate gear; buy boots that fit and get any old kick and glide skis for cheap.    Do you have winter running clothes?

 

 

One thing I promise: you will learn to glide wax better than any of your alpine-only friends.

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wooley12 View Post

Here ya go

 

http://harrisburg.craigslist.org/spo/2563066294.html  (Good starter for you if it's nearby)

 

http://harrisburg.craigslist.org/spo/2559228989.html             (Size?)

 

Go Green!! (and cheap) Keep shopping CL


Both links failed for me. Size wise I am a 10.5-11 street shoe, but wear a 26.5 ski boot (although after being punched out it's probably a 27). My local ski shop sells XC gear so I'm going to stop and check out there used gear sometime soon.
post #16 of 26

 

So 42-42.5 to start, 43+ dependent on last shape.   If you use US sizing you'll be chronically confused, each sales/rental place and each brand puts their own interpretation on the conversion table.


Edited by cantunamunch - 9/16/11 at 10:57am
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 

What about ski size?

post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylrwnzl View Post

What about ski size?



You'll be somewhere in the ~200cm sizes on classic construction double camber kick and glide skis,  Large sizes (~180-190cm) on  "compact" construction kick and glide skis, large sizes  on camber and a half backcountry skis (and at your weight you will be getting very little glide if you try to use those in-track), and whatever the rental center figures out for you for skate skis.       

 

Exact sizing will be completely dependent on model and flex.      

 

 

post #19 of 26

Lots of good advise from the Epic crew! Good luck.

 

Cirquerider:

Howdy neighbor.I usually steer people toward Tahoe-Donner Cross Country but all the cross country ski centers in the Tahoe area are good in terms of instruction I think.They all have their own unique character.Tahoe XC just east Tahoe City has generally flat terrain and of course nice views of the lake.Royal Gorge has the most trails but the highest price.Skiing from the summit station is a little tough, it's always up hill back to the trail head.It's Lake Van Norden trail system is very flat,nice views of Sugarbowl and a great place to take beginners.There is a hut near the east end where you can stop in and make tea/coco.Tahoe-Donner XC is high, the snow stays good longer, but is exposed and can be a bad place when there's wind.Lots of terrain but right around the touring center it's fairly flat and not a lot of work.A nice ski is down into Euer Valley to the Cook House hut(hot food).I like the friendly vibe and food here too.There are also XC touring centers at Northstar(hilly, have to ride the lift to get to it), Kirkwood and Spooner Lake.

 

 

.

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylrwnzl View Post



Both links failed for me. Size wise I am a 10.5-11 street shoe, but wear a 26.5 ski boot (although after being punched out it's probably a 27). My local ski shop sells XC gear so I'm going to stop and check out there used gear sometime soon.


 

Sorry, just try the craigslist in your area. One link was for $20 208cm in Dillsburg. Looked real old with the mohair strips instead of a patterned base. I'd buy them if they were a block away but keep looking.

post #21 of 26

I agree with madmads about first learning classic as the traditional method. However, although classic looks simple and anyone can shuffle to get around, it does take a while to learn to do it well. Lessons would be a very good thing so you can get an idea of what to shoot for with respect to proper technique.  Both classic and skating have stepwise techniques that can be used, and lesions will help you understand these.  Here is an example of what to shoot for in classic.. http://gmvsxc.blogspot.com/2009/11/classic-technique-video.html  If you look closely, you will see weight transfer, kick, balance, and glide.

 

Whether you buy used or new equipment, getting the correct stiffness will be important. If the skis are not stiff enough the wax pocket doesn't float above the snow when gliding and your glide suffers. Too stiff and you have to work harder to get the wax to bite into the snow, especially on the uphills. The same would be true for waxless skis. Here is a link to a good discussion of proper ski fit and flex. http://www.masterskier.com/article.asp?aid=125 Don't just go by length because even in the same ski model and length, stiffness will vary.  Stiffness is also important for skating, but for different reasons than classic.

 

The decision whether to buy or rent should be made on your budget and intent.  However, X-country equipment tends to have a longer life than DH, especially the skis, and you can count on having the same skis for a long time.  I still use a pair of Epoke 900s that are now 30 years old from time to time. So if your intent is to do this for a while, buying skis and equipment makes good sense.  Brands that I like include Fischer, Madshus, Rossi, and Atomic.  I only use Solomon boots because they fit my feet.

 

Binding systems for Nordic varies with the boot manufacturer.  If you buy used, make sure that the bindings on the ski works with the boots that you want.  Solomon boots work with Solomon bindings, but not with the New Nordic Norm (NNN).  Here is a link that discusses binding/boot stuff... http://www.mec.ca/AST/ContentPrimary/Learn/Snowsports/SkisBootsAndSkins/NordicSkiBootsBindingsAndPoles.jsp My suggestion is to find a boot that fits well first, and then go with the binding system that works for that boot.  Poor fitting boots in Nordic is as much of a PITA as poor fitting boots in DH.  Various manufacturers have a bias toward wider or narrower boot widths. If buying new, not at all a problem usually, as most binding systems work on any skis.  If buying used, will have to pay attention to whether the binding works for your boot.

 

One potential reason to start with classic is from a fitness point of view. Classic skiing can be done slowly and in a way that doesn't push aerobic capacity, althougth you can get an excellent workout w/ classic. Skating, on the other hand, is much more aerobically demanding, and it is harder to stay in an aerobic zone, especially when climbing. The arm movements are bigger and the speed tends to be faster in skating.

 

As far as transferability of skills, most DH skiers skate from time to time, but do it wrong by keeping too centred and not getting over the glide ski enough, so you might have learned poor technique for transferring to skating.  This is a fixable problem if aware. Turns for classic and skating include step turning, which generally is not done in DH. You will probably do some snowplowing and hockey stops in both classic and skating, which will also be transferable from DH.

 

Nordic skiing is something that I find very satisfying.  I live 5 minutes from a Nordic centre and ski 30 to 40 times per year (when I’m not DH skiing).  Night skiing is especially satisfying at the end of a long day at work.  I believe that Nordic skiing provides great cross training  that enhance DH skills.

  

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by canadianskier - 9/17/11 at 7:16am
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by canadianskier View Post

I agree with madmads about first learning classic as the traditional method. However, although classic looks simple and anyone can shuffle to get around, it does take a while to learn to do it well. Lessons would be a very good thing so you can get an idea of what to shoot for with respect to proper technique.  Both classic and skating have stepwise techniques that can be used, and lesions will help you understand these.  Here is an example of what to shoot for in classic.. http://gmvsxc.blogspot.com/2009/11/classic-technique-video.html  If you look closely, you will see weight transfer, kick, balance, and glide.

 

Whether you buy used or new equipment, getting the correct stiffness will be important. If the skis are not stiff enough the wax pocket doesn't float above the snow when gliding and your glide suffers. Too stiff and you have to work harder to get the wax to bite into the snow, especially on the uphills. The same would be true for waxless skis. Here is a link to a good discussion of proper ski fit and flex. http://www.masterskier.com/article.asp?aid=125 Don't just go by length because even in the same ski model and length, stiffness will vary.  Stiffness is also important for skating, but for different reasons than classic.

 

The decision whether to buy or rent should be made on your budget and intent.  However, X-country equipment tends to have a longer life than DH, especially the skis, and you can count on having the same skis for a long time.  I still use a pair of Epoke 900s that are now 30 years old from time to time. So if your intent is to do this for a while, buying skis and equipment makes good sense.  Brands that I like include Fischer, Madshus, Rossi, and Atomic.  I only use Solomon boots because they fit my feet.

 

Binding systems for Nordic varies with the boot manufacturer.  If you buy used, make sure that the bindings on the ski works with the boots that you want.  Solomon boots work with Solomon bindings, but not with the New Nordic Norm (NNN).  Here is a link that discusses binding/boot stuff... http://www.mec.ca/AST/ContentPrimary/Learn/Snowsports/SkisBootsAndSkins/NordicSkiBootsBindingsAndPoles.jsp My suggestion is to find a boot that fits well first, and then go with the binding system that works for that boot.  Poor fitting boots in Nordic is as much of a PITA as poor fitting boots in DH.  Various manufacturers have a bias toward wider or narrower boot widths. If buying new, not at all a problem usually, as most binding systems work on any skis.  If buying used, will have to pay attention to whether the binding works for your boot.

 

One potential reason to start with classic is from a fitness point of view. Classic skiing can be done slowly and in a way that doesn't push aerobic capacity, althougth you can get an excellent workout w/ classic. Skating, on the other hand, is much more aerobically demanding, and it is harder to stay in an aerobic zone, especially when climbing. The arm movements are bigger and the speed tends to be faster in skating.

 

As far as transferability of skills, most DH skiers skate from time to time, but do it wrong by keeping too centred and not getting over the glide ski enough, so you might have learned poor technique for transferring to skating.  This is a fixable problem if aware. Turns for classic and skating include step turning, which generally is not done in DH. You will probably do some snowplowing and hockey stops in both classic and skating, which will also be transferable from DH.

 

Nordic skiing is something that I find very satisfying.  I live 5 minutes from a Nordic centre and ski 30 to 40 times per year (when I’m not DH skiing).  Night skiing is especially satisfying at the end of a long day at work.  I believe that Nordic skiing provides great cross training  that enhance DH skills.

  

 

 

 

 

 



Does anyone know which manufacturers tend to have wider boots?  I want to get my wife new gear for Christmas but she has a wide foot so I need to take that into consideration.  I know ZIP about XC so any advice would be helpful.  Thanks!

 

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArchitect View Post



Does anyone know which manufacturers tend to have wider boots?  I want to get my wife new gear for Christmas but she has a wide foot so I need to take that into consideration.  I know ZIP about XC so any advice would be helpful.  Thanks!

 



Alpina rec. boots and BC boots  tend to fit like bathtubs, sometimes enough to go a size down even on a wide foot.     Fischers and  Salomons can fit wide; Salomons tend to allow for higher insteps.

 

Whatever you do, do not use her US shoe size to buy XC ski boots without having her try them first. 

 

    The Euro size numbers are /far/ more accurate-to-size within each manufacturer's lines.      Once she figures out that she can fit into a size 38 Salomon for example, other size 38 Salomon models should have the same sizing.    This is not true of US sizes.       US size labeling is inconsistent even among models from the same manufacturer.    Tell her it's like shopping for Italian shoes, you need to find -her- Italian size.

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post



Alpina rec. boots and BC boots  tend to fit like bathtubs, sometimes enough to go a size down even on a wide foot.     Fischers and  Salomons can fit wide; Salomons tend to allow for higher insteps.

 

Whatever you do, do not use her US shoe size to buy XC ski boots without having her try them first. 

 

    The Euro size numbers are /far/ more accurate-to-size within each manufacturer's lines.      Once she figures out that she can fit into a size 38 Salomon for example, other size 38 Salomon models should have the same sizing.    This is not true of US sizes.       US size labeling is inconsistent even among models from the same manufacturer.    Tell her it's like shopping for Italian shoes, you need to find -her- Italian size.


 

Thanks for the info.  I’m beginning to think that perhaps I should buy the skis for under the tree and then take her out to get the boots and bindings after.  Dumb question….if I bought a Fischer ski, like say the Superlight Crown or Orbiter, can any binding be mounted on it?


 

 

post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArchitect View Post


.  Dumb question….if I bought a Fischer ski, like say the Superlight Crown or Orbiter, can any binding be mounted on it?


 

 



Yes.     It's NIS   http://www.nordicskiracer.com/Equipment/2005/NIS/NIS.asp skis you have to watch out for, but that should be easy.

post #26 of 26

Excellent.  Thanks for the help!

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