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Tips for a Complete Beginner

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hello All,

 

I've done a tiny amount of alpine skiing and want to explore cross country, both classic and skating as well, I feel like skating style would be more intuitive for me to learn however most resources I've read have said learn classic first. 

 

My plan is to go to Mammoth and do trails at Tamarack Lodge. Go Snow Shoeing as well. 

 

I do not have ANY XC gear, except for maybe a soft shell Columbia Jacket. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQ4KT5E?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage 

 

I'm not sure if this would be appropriate or not, obviously over a fleece lined base layer. I have some ski jackets for Alpine that I could probably get away with though I worry they might get in the way of poling. 

 

What are some suggestions and tips anyone can give me as a complete beginner setting on this journey? I've been watching a lot of races of Martin Janusrud Sundy, Teresa Johung, Dorothea Wierer, Martin Forcade, etc... so I'm very interested to experience the skiing now. 

 

I've full packages of skis, boots, poles, and bindings at good prices. Should I just buy top quality stuff? I read a blog that said unlike Alpine skiing, it is actually better to learn on high quality professional level skis than it is the ones marketed for beginners. Or should I rent stuff the first time? 

 

I'm 32 years old, Male, 5'5, 200 lbs. Obviously I need to be in better shape, that's a given. 

 

I'm looking forward to experiencing another element of the snow world. 

 

Any secrets and tricks of the trade? Anyone familiar with Tamarack trails in particular that could give advice? 

post #2 of 14

Wow, lots to learn, and not enough space for all of it.  Just a couple of points:

  • Probably rent equipment first.  You need to get a sense of what works and what doesn't suit you as well.  Don't over-invest until you have SOME experience.
  • Like alpine, boots are very important.  You do not need a "second-skin" snug fit like alpine (they should be comfortable for a foot in motion), but they need to be supportive and fairly stiff in the right places.  This is especially the place where the "buy the best at the beginning" piece of advice comes in.  Many "beginner" xc packages skimp on boots, but that's exactly where the force and control comes from -- and sloppy, overly flexible ski boots that offer no control are the single-biggest reasons (I believe) folks give up on xc skiing.
  • DO learn classic first.  Skating is fun and may be more "intutive" for some ...but it's really work at the beginning and likely to stress people out.  When you really GET the technique, it doesn't have to be difficult, but until you get the technique, you can put yourself into anaerobic shock w/i 100 yards.  Classic affords the opportunity to slow down and shuffle and get used to the idea of sliding over snow.
  • dress lightly enough to be cool at the start.  Even if you go slowly, you'll be working and generating heat.  Folks who over-dress like they're going alpine skiing start sweating in five minutes and then they get wet...and then cold. 
  • Stick with it.  The rewards of xc skiing are more subtle and less adrenaline-driven...but they are significant.  Relax, enjoy yourself, let the skiing come to you.

Good luck.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm trying to figure out what I'd be able to wear. Would a pair of regular Adidas Pants from Sports Authority over a pair of compression fleece long underwear be sufficient? 

 

So a package like this:

 

http://www.skiessentials.com/skis/cross-country-skis/2014-rossignol-x-tour-venture-ar-xc-skis-w-boots-basic-bindings.html

 

While economic, may not be the best investment conducive to learning the sport? 

post #4 of 14

below in red

Quote:
Originally Posted by scott112 View Post
 

I'm trying to figure out what I'd be able to wear. Would a pair of regular Adidas Pants from Sports Authority over a pair of compression fleece long underwear be sufficient? 

Most likely, depending on the weather. I often wear only a single layer of heavy-ish xc pants, like the Sporthill xc pant. 

 

So a package like this:

 

http://www.skiessentials.com/skis/cross-country-skis/2014-rossignol-x-tour-venture-ar-xc-skis-w-boots-basic-bindings.html

While economic, may not be the best investment conducive to learning the sport? 

 

This package is actually fairly good for the money.  But...you don't know if you best fit Rossignol boots, Alpina boots, Salomon boots, etc. If your feet are very tolerant, ok, but each brand has a particular last/fit.  I get terrible blisters from Rossi boots, but Alpinas fit me like a glove.  Also, I myself think beginners should start on a mid-cut, or shorter ski rather than a long traditional one.  I still think it's best to rent first, but only you can decide.


Edited by tch - 2/14/16 at 11:27am
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the input, I appreciate it. If it helps anyway, I'm a 7.5 mens size, with a D-E wide foot. Tennis shoes I can usually get by in a D width, some dress shoes I cannot and I certainly cannot in alpine ski boots. So my feet are wider. Does that give you any insight into what boots might be better? I just like to have as much possible knowledge going into something knew, so if I like it and find things work great for me, I know what to do and I already know or at least am familiar with the equipment I'm renting. I'm fairly certain it is Rossignol they rent at Mammoth Nordic. 

post #6 of 14

I've done old fashioned classic X-C a few times a winter since the 1970s.  You can do X-C in two modes;  fast or slow. If aggressive you can dress like you are going on a brisk jog on a 45 deg day, one or two thin layers.  If going long, slow, and very casual, then you need to bring another layer or two (depending on weather) and probably a small backpack for stowing layers, water, snacks as necessary.  Also, you can probably do your outing at a venue that has short loops allowing you to return to your starting point quickly to adjust gear or rest in lodge or car.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

And is there a significant difference between skate skiing and ice skating? I know it's the same motion as recreational figure skating at the local rink, which I've done a lot of, I don't know if that would help in learning to skate ski or not, thus why I said it SEEMED at least like it would be more intuitive to me and less likely to stress me out than classic. Though I do want to do and learn both. 

post #8 of 14

You will use a semblance of the skate motion on classic X-C gear too on occasion to climb certain inclines and perhaps to change direction or some other maneuvers. Since you said you've done a little alpine skiing then you may know what it's like to skate in alpine gear to get up a small hill or travel across a flat area.  That motion is similar to what X-C skate skiing will be like.  You will mostly have to do some exertion for every inch you travel, at least until you gain greater skill, which I defer to tch to verify.  Whereas with classic X-C, when you get some basic rhythm, you get to enjoy "glide", which is bonus travel distance you get across a level or downhill snow surface after each kick. I wouldn't be surprised if you went to a Nordic facility with a variety of rental gear that they might let you try both modes on your first day to see which one you find most comfortable at first, probably getting a lesson would be a good idea too if you are open to that.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Yes, lessons will definitely happen, I always forget that isn't implied in these sports. I plan to take a lesson in both styles when I go. Classic in the morning, Skating in the afternoon, or Classic Day 1, Skating Day 2. Though I will probably consult TCH more, and see if I should do Classic for a prolonged period of time then try skating, or if  they just meant take a classic lesson before a skating lesson. I wasn't totally clear on that. 

post #10 of 14

Scott, just get on classic skis first and get comfortable. it's not a progression; you don't have to "master" classic before moving on to skating.  But I think a newbie needs to get used to the sensation of weight transfer and sliding on skis before trying the more taxing skate style.  A day or two of diagonal would get you more comfortable and then you could try skating.

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

That makes sense, so spend a day or two doing classic, and then once I feel confident with that, move forward to skating?

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

If/when I do buy skis and boots:

 

1. Do you have to have different skis for Classic and Skating? I know there are skis specific to each discipline but can you use one for both? 

 

2. Do you need different boots for Classic and Skating? 

post #13 of 14

Believe there is separate gear for both, but combi boots exist that will work with either type of ski. My wife and I have low end waxless classic X-C skis and boots.  

There's a madcap video in this recent EpicSki thread with numerous crashes from what is apparently a large recreational X-C race in Europe with hundreds/thousands of participants:  http://www.epicski.com/t/145646/cross-country-skiing-makes-downhill-look-tame#post_1975585  

Posted for laughs only.  Normally X-C skiing is a fairly solitary activity especially if you go off breaking trail in a national forest or state park land.  BTW, that raises a point that you should probably not X-C ski alone in remote areas in case of accident or getting lost.

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by scott112 View Post
 

If/when I do buy skis and boots:

 

1. Do you have to have different skis for Classic and Skating? I know there are skis specific to each discipline but can you use one for both? 

 

2. Do you need different boots for Classic and Skating? 

 

 

1. Yes -but- it will be suboptimal for both. 

2. No, there are combi boots -but- using a boot for classic will soften it up faster than just skating on it and once it's  soft it will be hateful to skate on. 

 

I don't know if your sources told you this but for skating you really need a big expanse of relatively flat, relatively hard snow, which in practice means either crust or groomed/packed trails.     Bushwhacking and breaking trail is really a classic stride type thing. 

 

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