Cross Country Ski Tips

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azbackpackr
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Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 10 2009 12:52 pm

I'm starting this page because I love to cross country ski, and would like to share some info. Also, there are people posting on here who know more than I do and have better gear, so maybe they have some tips as well. There are all sorts of neat kinds of cross country skis nowadays.

I went skiing today at Pole Knoll near Greer. All my co-workers said I was nuts, because it was about 10 degrees out at 8 a.m. Pretty cold. However I got to the ski area, started out with two base layers (NON cotton!) and a hand-knitted Norwegian wool sweater. My pants were fleece, with a good non cotton pair of long johns underneath. My wind-proof jacket, extra mittens and extra beanie hat, etc., were in my pack. Within 10 minutes of relatively flat skiing, where I was partially breaking trail (lots of work) I ditched the beanie hat and mittens I was wearing--went bare handed. The sun shining on the snow really does make it warmer, and also you burn a lot of calories while breaking trail.

The moral of the story is: Never listen to your co-workers. I had a wonderful time. I broke trail up Summit trail, then skiied downhill in the tracks I had made. There was no one else there. It was sunny, with no wind. It doesn't get much better than that in the woods!

SKIS Mine are old Karhus, non-wax. The main thing in AZ is to make sure whichever ski you buy has metal edges, and that someone knowledgeable fits you to them. If you opt for wax, learn to wax. If you opt for no wax skis, get a can of silicon spray. This is to spray on the bottoms of the skis in warm conditions, or they will stick like glue. You can even carry the can in your pack if it's spring snow.

Poles and boots are whatever suits you or whatever is available. But you need to get some gaiters, or you'll end up with snow in your socks. Due to my very narrow foot, my boots are too wide for me, and what I go through to make them not give me blisters...sheesh! The worst blisters I have ever had I got from my xc boots!! I start with duct tape on my heels, then baby powder for moisture absorption, extra insoles, tight lacing, combination of socks.

PACK Camelback tubes freeze. I use a water bottle, fill it with hot water at home. I take a first aid kit with a lot of fire starting stuff. A can of Sterno would not be overkill. I take extra mittens, extra beanie, sometimes extra socks. I take my cell phone--it does work at Pole Knoll. A bit of high calorie snacks. My camera, in a warm place or the batteries freeze.

Make sure you bring a sun hat, put it on over your beanie, and sunglasses. Sun blindness is no fun at all. Sunscreen, too, if you're out all day.

In the car I leave a thermos of hot cocoa or coffee, and a cup. Having a sleeping bag in there in case of emergency would probably be a good idea as well.
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berkforbes
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by berkforbes » Dec 10 2009 1:27 pm

Great tips and advice, ive always been interested in XC skiing as regular downhill would destroy my already destroyed knee... maybe now ill have to give it a shot when i head up to durango for a snowboarding trip mid january.. thanks!
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chumley
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by chumley » Dec 10 2009 2:13 pm

Thanks for the tips Elizabeth! I've been meaning to get back to nordic skiing more often. It was something I did extensively as a kid on the olympic trails at Lake Placid (and a few times in Norway). Living in the valley makes it tough to head over to the nearest golf course for a quick winter workout though... well, except to golf!
azbackpackr wrote:a hand-knitted Norwegian wool sweater
As a kid, I would get hand-knitted wool socks and mittens from my two grandmothers and a great aunt. As a kid, I wasn't particularly impressed. :( But they lived on farms and its what they could afford. I also now realize what a treasure such gifts really were.

Luckily, my mom's #1 hobby is knitting, and not a night goes by where she doesn't sit in her chair knitting something. She always comes back from Norway with a suitcase full of yarn. I still have a great ski sweater from her (and of course a few hats), but living in AZ has limited my need for sweaters. My nieces in Colorado probably get a new one every year. Hell, she hand-knits sweaters for their DOLLS! Talk about not knowing how good they have it!
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BobP
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by BobP » Dec 10 2009 2:33 pm

chumley wrote:As a kid, I would get hand-knitted wool socks and mittens from my two grandmothers and a great aunt. As a kid, I wasn't particularly impressed
Man, You just stoked some great memories. I still have some of that stuff packed away too.

I also now realize what a treasure such gifts really were
How true
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azbackpackr
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 10 2009 9:29 pm

That Norwegian sweater, in almost perfect condition, is mute testimony to the fact I have lived in warm places all my life until the past 10 years. When I was 13, in 1966, I went to Norway with my parents. They bought me the sweater there. I have hardly worn it, needless to say. But I do wear it now! It's very scratchy, and it has a turtleneck, so it has to be really cold to wear it, because I have to wear a non-scratchy turtleneck shirt under it or it drives me nuts!

As for the skiing, I learned from a BOOK! Yes, really! I had one short lesson, then used the book. It is hard to learn to turn those long, narrow skis. There are several types of turns, which the book illustrated: snow plow, step turn, etc. I still haven't learned to telemark, but I think that is more for the shorter, wider version of skis that are becoming popular now. Also, how you lean during a turn is the opposite of what you'd naturally do. I have never done Alpine (regular) skiing, so I had nothing to compare it to while learning.

A lot of people will tell you, "Cross country skiing? But that's so much work!" Yeah, it is...isn't that kind of the point? You get some exercise and enjoy being out in the woods. It does get easier once you learn how, though. I didn't ski at all last winter due to being in Yuma. (I kayaked and biked instead!) But I just put them on and off I went. Once you learn you won't forget how, just like riding a bicycle.

Sometimes, also, you may be able to explain to people about human-powered wilderness travel. Getting from point A to point B in the wilds. I dunno, though, a lot of people I talk to either don't get it, or they have tried it (a LOT of people who live up here have at least tried it) and they think it's too hard.

Wusses.... ;)
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Azbackcountry
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by Azbackcountry » Dec 13 2009 5:54 pm

azbackpackr wrote:I dunno, though, a lot of people I talk to either don't get it, or they have tried it (a LOT of people who live up here have at least tried it) and they think it's too hard.

Wusses.... ;)

Hah...I'm one of those people. I have done some xc skiing when I was younger and although it was somewhat fun, now I couldn't even contemplate attempting to xc again. After using some wider planks downhill, steeps and heavenly powder have given me some truly epic days and put many smiles on my face that xc could not even come close to doing. I would argue that 1 actually gets a better workout with downhill, perhaps not cardio wise but definitely a total body workout. I had a few days last year that left me so tired, sweaty, and filled with muscle cramps and soreness that I could not even drive myself away from the resort...I had to take a nap in the truck and pound gatorade before my legs would move again in a manner that I felt it was safe to drive :y:

If I had xc ski's and a great destination with xc trails already blazed, then someone might be able to talk me into giving it another go.

Would love to see some pics if you took any while were out there blazing some trails.

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dysfunction
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by dysfunction » Dec 13 2009 6:37 pm

You need to go to a backcountry ski.. then you can do both ;)
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azbackpackr
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 14 2009 3:19 am

Yeah, I'd like to try some of those other types of skiing, even downhill! ;) But that costs money. For now, since I have a pair of skis, if there's enough snow, all I need is gas for the Blazer--it's 13 miles to Pole Knoll--and it's otherwise free for me.

Incidentally, the most recent string of small storms didn't reach my house, although last night it looked as though it could be snowing up on the mountain. If I wanted to ski today, I'd probably have to go to Sunrise, then take 273 to where it's gated off, and ski towards Baldy trailhead, or up onto the rez.
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tahosa
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by tahosa » Dec 15 2009 6:14 am

Cross Country Sking can be a blast, right along with winter. For me personally I have found it to be a very dangerous sport. For I went skinny skiing with a Norwegian in '75, I fell and she took me to the Altar. :y: Seven kids later and 4 grandkids I would do it all over again.
Actually winter can be as much fun as summer but one must be a lot more careful. Despite the cold dehydration can be a real problem. When I volunteered with the USFS in CO, we did winter patrols and they were more fun than the summer hikes. Here is a ~link~ that has some good information for those that are active in the winter.

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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by joebartels » Dec 15 2009 7:01 am

Ooooo Princeton, how sassy! Always a good refresher. ...water conducts 25 times faster than air and steel is faster than water, interesting.
Hike Arizona it ROCKS!

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chumley
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by chumley » Dec 15 2009 8:52 am

The person may be curled up in a fetal position. Try to open their arm up from the fetal position, if it curls back up, the person is alive. Dead muscles won't contract only live muscles.
Hope to never have an opportunity to test this.
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BobP
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by BobP » Dec 15 2009 8:59 am

In response to Tahosa:
Thanks for that link.
http://www.blindmotivation.com
http://www.seeitourway.org
Always pronounce Egeszsegedre properly......
If you like this triplog you must be a friend of BrunoP

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chumley
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by chumley » Dec 15 2009 9:08 am

Where's the Survivorman/Man v Wild thread ... this reminds me of numerous Survivorman winter episodes where Les preaches about how perspiration kills. Basically if its cold and you have no shelter/heat source, once you get wet, you're dead. This does not typically apply when there's a ski lodge with hot chocolate nearby. :D
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azbackpackr
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 31 2009 9:15 pm

More tips:

If you're snowshoeing, and you see ski tracks, and there is an option of NOT walking in the ski tracks, it will be considered good manners to not walk in the ski tracks. Thank you...

If you are skiing, and there are ski tracks, guess what, it's a lot easier to ski in tracks someone else has made! It's also fun to break trail, sometimes. It does get tiring. Some cross country ski areas are groomed, which is kind of fun, but a bit tame.

Most skiers I see at Pole Knoll, where I usually go, are of the plod-and-shuffle school. The reason I like this sport so much is that there is a lot to keep learning about it. You can get instruction books or lessons. You can get beyond plod-and-shuffle!
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azbackpackr
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 08 2010 10:50 am

Article:

www.wmicentral.com

Scroll to bottom of page to Outdoors magazine cover, click. Then read pages 19 and 20 about seeking solitude in the snowy woods/cross country skiing. It is a very squirrelly website.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
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AZPAUL
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by AZPAUL » Jan 13 2010 7:26 am

I just got back from XC skiing in Yosemite (Glacier Point) and your comment on blisters from the ski boots is of interest.
I'm having to wear Crocks now because of the monster blisters on my heels.
As I try to figure out what to do differently next time your duct tape idea might just stick.

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azbackpackr
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 13 2010 10:56 am

Hey, welcome to HAZ!!

Yeah, and I also use those blister gel patches if I start to get one, and then make a duct tape cap over that, encasing my whole heel. Sort of overkill, but it works for awhile. Use good quality duct tape from the hardware store to ensure best stickiness.

Did I already mention this: SNOWSHOERS PLEASE STAY OUT OF THE SKI TRACKS!!! There, got that off my chest...again... ;)
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
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azbackpackr
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 15 2010 1:10 pm

Here's an attempt at humor in an article I wrote a couple years ago for White Mtn. Outdoors Magazine, a publication of the White Mountain Independent.

Special Section > White Mountain Outdoors > Page 4 > So you think you'd like to try cross-country skiing
12-18-2007
So you think you'd like to try cross-country skiing
Elizabeth Planteen
White Mountain Outdoors

As a kid growing up in Southern California I always wanted to try cross-country skiing. I had heard it was fun. I had also heard of snow, but had never actually seen any falling from the sky until I moved to the White Mountains. By this time I was almost 50 years old and was not as spry as I once had been.
I tried snowshoeing a few times, but it seemed very stodgy. I pictured myself flying along through the untracked snow, gliding easily up and down the hills.
I rented a pair of skis one snowy day and decided to try it out. I took an instruction book with me in my backpack. According to the author, the basics would not be too hard to master. Yeah, right. The first thing that happened was that I fell on my face. Since I was not traveling very fast it was not painful. This was a good thing. The bad thing was that I couldn’t seem to get up again! Should I use my poles? Should I unclip my boots from the skis? I was struggling so hard to get back up I didn’t even think about digging into my snow-covered backpack for the instruction book.

Later on, at home, I read that one should swing the skis and legs so they are on the same side. Then get up on one knee, then onto both knees, grasping the middle of the poles. Then slide one ski forward and use the poles to push up. Now, if this sounds complicated, imagine trying to remember these steps while you are wallowing around in deep, soft snow, with two very long boards attached to your feet!

With a lot of trial and error I finally got the hang of it, kind of. I bought a set of skis, boots, bindings and poles and continued the learning curve. The kick-and-glide stride started to feel natural to me.

After several winters’ practice, I was able to do turns (most of the time) and go down a hill and around a corner, as long as the conditions are not too icy. When it’s icy I stick to the flatter terrain. You can zip along pretty fast on hard, icy snow, but when you fall down it hurts! And steep icy hills are for experts, or people like me who don’t know any better.

Cross-country skis are long and narrow, and they don’t function quite the same way as downhill skis. This doesn’t matter to me anyway, as I have never downhill skied. I found that turns are tricky because you are supposed to lean in the opposite direction of the turn you are making, while at the same time placing more weight on that ski. So if you want to make a right turn, you must place more weight on your left ski and lean left, while bending your knees and waist. This takes a bit of getting used to—at first it just doesn’t seem to make sense. At the same time you are making this turn, leaning the wrong way, and trying hard to remember to also bend your knees and waist, you also have to be sort of stepping around the corner.

You can also do a snowplow turn. This means your skis are not parallel, but the tips are closer together. Now this can be a harrowing feeling while going down a slope, having those ski tips pointing at each other. When you are a beginner you may often get the feeling that those ski tips are going to cross over one another and then where will you be? Oh, it’s so much fun!

What did you say—you wanted to learn how to stop? What for? You’re having a great time, zipping down this little hill along a groomed trail. Who needs to stop? Rounding a blind corner, feeling proud to have executed a turn … But what’s that you see in front of you? A newly fallen tree directly across the path! Yikes! That is when you use your snowplow stop.

If this doesn’t work, or if you are afraid your ski tips will cross, then you just sit down on the skis and drag your poles, hands and backside along in the snow. At least, that’s what I do. It’s a new technique — I invented it! I’m sure it will become very important in Olympic skiing once it catches on.

In cross-country skiing, your boot heels are not attached to the ski. They are free to move up and down. The toes of the boots attach with a sort of hinge. The skis themselves are designed to go both up and down hills. (Whether or not you have the lungpower to make them go up the hills...well, we don’t need to discuss that right now, do we?)

Traditional cross-country skis need to be waxed, with a truly bewildering number of types of waxes, which are used according to snow conditions and temperature. At least, so I’m told. I’m still using non-wax skis. They’re much simpler and are advisable for the beginner. Then, later on, if you get really good at the sport (and move to Colorado, where it actually snows a lot) you will probably graduate to a more technical type of ski.

There are so many different types of cross-country skis I can’t keep track of them all. There are mountaineering skis and telemark skis and skating skis and touring skis and racing skis. There are contraptions that allow you to have your dog pull you along. This is called skijouring, and sounds really fun, until you remember how often your dog likes to run off and jump over big logs and chase rabbits.

You can ski just about anywhere there is open flat or rolling terrain. The snow needs to be about six inches deep or you will scrape and damage the bottoms of your skis. The rental places won’t take too kindly to that treatment, so be careful.

The Forest Service grooms some of the trails I have listed below. Groomed trails offer much easier skiing than unbroken snow. Sunrise Ski Resort offers groomed cross-country ski trails as well, but they do charge a small fee to use them. Many trail systems such as Pole Knoll, near Greer, have blue diamond markers on the trees to help you find your way.

If you have to break trail in new snow it is more difficult, but it’s also a good workout. And you can return to your car following these tracks. If you’ve gone uphill for an hour or so you’ll find the return trip will take only about 20 minutes. Many times, however, I will arrive at a ski area to find someone else has been there before me. Then I just ski along in the tracks they’ve made.
Snowmobile tracks are also easy paths to follow, and I often follow these tracks along the Railroad Grade Trail. Adding to your adventure, the snowmobilers could come roaring back along these tracks, necessitating quick moves on your part.

I enjoy skiing alone, but I sometimes go with the TRACKS outdoor group, which meets once a month in Pinetop-Lakeside. Beware, however, that there are a number of septuagenarian members of this club whose skiing skills will likely put yours to shame. However, they will probably be kind enough to give you a few pointers.
Information about this club is available at the Pinetop-Lakeside Parks and Recreation Department, (928) 368-6700, and membership is free. Additionally, guided cross-country skiing and lessons are sometimes available at Sunrise Ski Resort, (800) 772-7669.

Popular places to ski in the Springerville Ranger District:
• Pole Knoll Recreation Area off 260, a couple of miles or so west of the Greer turnoff.
• Squirrel Springs Recreation Area in Greer, off 373.
• Mt. Baldy foothills area near Hall Creek, past the locked gate on 273.
• Railroad Grade Trail off 260, by the “sledding hill.”
• Anywhere around Green’s Peak is great if there have been several snowstorms.
• Down south, in the Alpine Ranger District, the Williams Valley Recreation Area near Alpine is a wonderful place to ski. The Forest Service often grooms the trails there, if there is enough snow.
• Hannagan Meadow also has cross-country ski trails.
If you’re in the Lakeside or Black Mesa Ranger Districts, call the District Ranger for information on

Ski rentals are available at the gas station in Alpine, at the Sweat Shop in Eagar and at Sunrise General Store. Inexpensive ski packages can be purchased online from L.L. Bean, Sierra Trading Post, REI and many other companies.
It’s best to rent (or borrow) first to get a feel for the sport. And of course, carry water, snacks, extra layers of clothing, matches, fire starter, a lighter, a stocking cap and sunglasses.

It is best to not wear any cotton clothing—all of your clothes and socks should be synthetic fabrics, such as fleece and polypro or wool. I myself also prefer to wear a pair of seriously dorky-looking bright blue gaiters, which keep the snow from going inside my ski boots.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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laurielee
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by laurielee » Feb 03 2010 12:17 am

Which ski bags do you all use? and why? I'm head to Alaska and Banff this season and need to find a ski bag that can handle assumed abuse that the airlines can and might throw at my skis. I would hate to have damaged skis when I got to my destination. Thanks for the input

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azbackpackr
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Re: Cross Country Ski Tips

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 03 2010 6:00 am

Internet search? I had never thought of flying anywhere with skis. If I could afford to fly anywhere, I'd be in Costa Rica right now, and wouldn't need my skis! ;)
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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