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What is Nordic Skiing

By Trish Painter and Jim White

Have you ever wondered about just what cross country (also referred to as Nordic) skiing is? Most of us are familiar with downhill (alpine) skiing, but what exactly is Nordic Skiing?  For starters, it is a wonderful way to get out into the woods in the winter without ski lifts, high costs, and big crowds.  Compared to downhill skiing, Nordic skis and boots are much lighter, less bulky, and the heel is “free”.  The light equipment and free heel allows skiers to stretch forward and get forward glide on skis even when going uphill.  In essence, Nordic equipment allows you to take the experience of skiing across any terrain.  This is why we call it “cross country skiing”.

There are two ‘styles’ or ‘techniques’ of Nordic skiing:  classic (or striding) and skating.  Both techniques require involve coordination of skis and poles but you can learn the basics for either technique by taking ski lessons such as those offered by Ogden Nordic at North Fork Park.  Classic skiing may be for those who just want to get out on the trails without a lot of technical things to master, whereas Skating provides an aerobic and technical challenge.

Classic skiing is a great way to start out.  For those who are interested in getting out there and enjoying the scenery, classic skiing can do that on day one.  Classic skiing can get you around on groomed trails (as at Ogden Nordic) or off the trails into the woods.  The groomed trails are great to learn on and usually there are tracks to help keep your skis pointed forward.  This helps to make the glide and balance much easier to learn!  The effort involved in classic skiing ranges from just walking with a bit of glide to really stretching out and working hard.  You can choose your effort level just like walking versus jogging or running.  One good ski class can get you started in classic skiing.  With some work on balance and practice “gliding”, your effort will decrease as your love of the sport increases.  A ski class will also teach you how to go downhill, turn and stop when needed.  These introductory skills will make your time at Ogden Nordic much safer and more enjoyable.

Skate skiing is a lot like ice skating or roller blading where you shift your weight from side to side and use the inside edge of your ski to “kick” as a means to propel yourself forward.  You can use your ski poles to increase power and glide making this technique the faster of the two.  A beginning skate skiing class will also provide what you need to get started including basic skate technique, poling, turning, hills, and stopping.  The groomed trails at Ogden Nordic are wide enough to accommodate skate skiers and have tracks for classic skiers along the sides.

Cross country skiing is a great way to get fit.  In fact, the highest levels of aerobic fitness have been measured in Nordic ski racers.  Caloric expenditure for general cross country skiing for a 155-160 pound person is about 560 Kcal/hour.  That same person skiing at a vigorous pace might expect to burn up to 650-700 Kcal/hour.  On a challenging uphill section, the caloric expenditure of Nordic skiing can approach a Big Mac, killing 1100 Kcal/hour. 

Ogden Nordic offers group ski classes for beginning and intermediate classic and skate skiing every Saturday.  Our ski instructors are experienced and many are professionally trained (PSIA certified).  They can get you up and moving on the snow in no time!   A one hour beginning class (classic or skate) is  just $20/person.  A one and a half hour intermediate class is $30 per person.  Both lessons will include a discount on rental equipment if you need it.  It is helpful to have reservations, so we can be sure to have enough instructors.  Please call the ski school hotline at 801-317-7662 or sign up online at www.ogdennordic.com (click ski school).

If you just want to get out into the woods and enjoy the snow without “gliding” then snowshoeing may be for you!   Ogden Nordic rents snowshoes and has specially designated trails for exploring the winter woods in peace.  Our trails are designed to minimize crossings so you will not have to deal with speedy skiers gliding by as you make your way.  You won’t have to worry about losing out on the fitness challenge either.  Snowshoeing in deep, non-packed snow can also burn up to 550 Kcal/hour!

However you want to enjoy the snow, North Fork Park and Ogden Nordic are ready for you.  Please join us at Ogden Nordic and get to know North Fork Park’s winter beauty!

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