Ski Spotlight: Cross-Country

Cross-country skiing, also known as XC Skiing and Nordic skiing, is one of the most accessible variants in the Wichita area. This form of skiing allows athletes to rely on their own movements to traverse snow-covered terrain. The sport is widely practiced around the world. Skiers propel themselves by striding forward, known as classic style, or by making a side-to-side skating motion, known as skate skiing. Poles and arms aid in this movement by pushing off against the snow. Cross-country skiing most closely resembles the first ski form.


Skiing began as a technique for traveling across snow-covered land—around five millennia ago in Scandinavia. As a result, cross-country skiing evolved as a utilitarian means of transportation, eventually becoming a popular recreational and fitness pastime. Other forms of skiing sprung up in the mid-1800s.


Cross-country skiing can be practiced nearly anywhere with enough snow. Touring and off-piste skiing is widely utilized by the community, offering an accessible way for individuals to appreciate skiing without concomitant and prohibitive prices. Groomed trail skiing is equally popular, often occurring at facilities and parks wherein trails are laid out and groomed for both class and skate-skiing.


Cross-country skiing is separate from the well-known alpine variant in several ways. The heel on a cross-country binding moves freely, serving as the force behind forward movement. This free heel dramatically changes the ways in which cross-country skiers turn and traverse terrain. While alpine skiers rely almost entirely on gravity for forward motion, Nordic skiers must generate their own momentum.


The skis used in cross-country are lighter and narrower than those used for alpine skiing. The bottoms provide a gliding surface, and varying lengths affect maneuverability. Skiers also use poles to create motion. While alpine skiing may be the more “adventurous” or dangerous of the ski variants, cross-country is the most accessible to those in the Wichita area. Users do not need elevation or expensive lift tickets to practice the sport; on a snowy day, you can lay your skis out on your sidewalk and go for a glide around the neighborhood.

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