Downhill skiing or snowboarding is as popular as it gets, as are most of the slopes during blue-bird days. If you’re interested in a sport that’s a little less crowded and a lot less expensive, consider cross-country skiing. Here are five reasons you should give it a shot:
It’s nearly free
If you own a pair of cross-country skis, poles, and boots, this winter activity actually is free after the initial gear expense. If you don’t, it’s about as close as it gets. Unlike downhill skiing, it doesn’t require a lift ticket, which can be a big expense for just a few hours of powder. Renting the cross-country set-up is usually inexpensive. The cost varies based on where you are and where you get the gear. At an independent retail store in downtown Hood River, Oregon, for example, a cross-country ski/boot/pole rental will cost you only $20 for the entire day.
There’s a low risk of injury
Cross-country skiing is low impact, low speed and, therefore, lower risk than many of its counterparts. According to a website called ski-injury.com, “At the 2011 ISSS meeting, Dr Jan Rokyta presented data on 2295 XC skiing injuries that occurred between 2003 and 2010. The overall injury rate was 0.1/1000 XC skiing days compared to 1.0/1000 for alpine skiing. Males and females were injured in equal proportions although injured males tended to be slightly older (average age 42.5 yrs compared to 35.5yrs). The lower extremity was the commonest area of injury and falls accounted for about 85% of all injuries. About 8% of events were due to skier exhaustion and fractures made up about 25% of all injuries.”
Dogs (and kids) are welcome
Any sport that not only allows — but encourages — the company of the canine and young adult kind is immediately more accessible to the general population. Cross-country skiing can be done at any pace, so dogs and kids can easily be a part of the fun. Many people allow their dogs to run with them while they cross-country ski much like they would do on a hike in the summertime. And most kids will welcome the opportunity to get out and glide through the snow any day of the week.
It’s a great workout — or an easy adventure
One of the best aspects of cross-country skiing is the choice you get when you head out for the day; you can make it a serious workout or a walk in the park. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person will burn 496 calories in just one hour of cross-country skiing, whereas the same person would burn just 314 calories downhill skiing for the same duration of time. If you’re less interested in aerobic exercise, you’ll still be strengthening many of the muscles in your body — including your glutes, core, back, chest shoulders arms and legs — while enjoying the scenery at a slower pace.
You don’t need fancy gear to do it
You will need to layer up meaning you’ll need a baselayer, a midlayer (wool shirt, a sweater or fleece jacket) and some kind of jacket. Once you get going on your Nordic Skis, you’ll heat up fast. Add gloves, a hat and a bottom layer that’s breathable, as well as thick socks and a pair of sunglasses — and you’re set.
While you can certainly invest in some technical gear, this is a winter activity where you can really get away with being pretty minimalist.