Is Cross Country Skiing Hard for Beginners

Is Cross Country Skiing Hard for Beginners? Fundamentals for Skiing

Cross country or Nordic skiing remains the oldest and most traditional version of skiing. Although cross country skiing does not require a great deal of fitness from the skier, it is a great way to remain fit.

Is cross country skiing hard for a beginner to pick up? Not at all. Cross country can be flexible, and everyone has a different way to tackle it. With the right attitude and enough practice, you will be on your way to becoming a Nordic skier in a short while.

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How Quickly Can You Become A Cross Country Skier?

Learning cross country skiing depends heavily on you, but several factors play a big role in determining how long your learning curve is.

If you conquer all these factors, then you are well on your way to become a cross country skiing professional. With all the right procedures taken, it’s best to learn the basic cross country techniques within hours.

Factors That Determine One’s Learning Curve

  • Fitness level
  • The right ski equipment (skis, boots, etc.)
  • The right clothes
  • Style of cross-country skiing (skate or classic style)
  • Practice areas
  • Attention to environment
  • Essentials and supplies
  • Knowing your limit

Fitness Level

Cross country skiing does not require a high level of fitness from the skier, but you need to be able to keep up with its physical demands. 

You should be able to wear your ski gear without struggling to breathe. The last thing you need is to quit your training because you are out of breath, which means that you must be in some form of shape to hit the slopes.

If you have low physical endurance, cross-country skiing can be challenging and draining to your body. If you would like to condition your body before hitting the trail, there are a few exercises you can try to get started.

The Right Ski Equipment

We cannot emphasize how important it is to get the right equipment for cross-country skiing. Your pockets and body will thank you for it later.

Some gear you need to buy are cross-country skis, boots, boot binding, and ski poles. If you are trying it out to see if you enjoy the sport, then rent your ski gear from a cross country ski center instead of buying. 

A cross country skier would spend relatively less than, say, an alpine skier on buying Alpine equipment. Don’t make the mistake of over-investing in your gear when you’re at the beginner level. 

Go for the basic stuff and once you feel more confident in the sport, you can splurge.

The Right Clothes

Cross country skiing is a winter sport. We don’t need to tell you what happens when you don’t get the right clothing.

You should wear enough layers that bring all the warmth you need but are still breathable to prevent the feeling of suffocation. The typical style of dressing is to wear a base layer, a middle layer, and an external yet outer layer of clothes to protect against wind, snow, and water.

If it begins to feel too warm, you can remove a layer. If it gets too cold, you can add more layers or wear a windbreaker if it gets too windy.

Styles of Cross-country Skiing

Cross country skiing has two styles, and both are practiced on groomed trails – the classic (also called the diagonal stride) and skate (freestyle) skiing. Both styles have specific equipment and practice areas.

Is Cross Country Skiing Hard for Beginners

Classic skiing is practiced on pre-made tracks whereas skating involves you freestyling across a corduroy-groomed trail. Most trainers agree that beginners will adapt well to cross country skiing if they begin with classic cross-country skiing.

Classic style is like you are walking or running on skis. All you have to do is keep your skis in a parallel position and point them straight forward. It is easier to learn because it most closely resembles our normal, everyday motions. 

Skate styles are far more complex and closely resemble ice skating. Skate styles require a faster pace and learning how to control speed, navigate downhill, and stopping are extremely important. 

Practice Areas

Irrespective of where you learned to cross country ski whether it’s through a ski school, a personal instructor, or the internet – every beginner should start on a flat terrain. Some ski areas are specifically designed for beginners.

A flat, gentle terrain has shorter trails and loops that are easier to navigate. Groomed tracks help guide your skis and improve your basic skills. Beginners would benefit from sticking to them.

These groomed tracks are tagged as green trails (easy), blue trails (intermediate), and black trails (hard) to guide you. You can tackle longer and more difficult trails as you gain more confidence in your abilities. 

Attention to Environment

One of the most crucial safety considerations to make is being aware of your surroundings. Beginner skiers should always have their eyes up. Paying attention as you climb hills, coming downhill, and even on the flats is vital. 

You should always keep your eyes peeled to avoid bumping into other people. There is usually just one track, with most people skiing in different directions. Depending on the weather and how tolerant your body is, frostbite and hypothermia are also potential health hazards, especially in harsh winter conditions.

As a beginner, try to cover up every part of your body properly and with the right gear. Make sure you go skiing with a friend or an expert in case you have an emergency. 

Essentials and Supplies

If your skiing practice or session is more than 30-45 minutes, it is recommended to have some supplies with you. These include snacks, water to prevent dehydration, and any necessary medications. You should also use enough protection for your eyes and skin, especially if they tend to be sensitive.

Knowing Your Limit

Cross-country skiing is a fun and encouraging sport. It’s a good bonding activity and could be fun for new lovebirds. However, as with any new activity, know your limits. Avoid pushing your body too far, especially on your first few tries.

The better you become, the more time you can spend. You can also complement your learning process with an improved fitness regimen. Above all, put your warmth and safety first.

Pro Tips to Consider When Learning Cross-Country Skiing

  • Try to practice balancing on one leg before putting on your skis.
  • Choose a landscape that is level or gently rolling.
  • Try the herringbone method for skiing uphill: tails together, tips apart, and pointing in opposite directions up the slope.
  • Skiing down a hill is not recommended for beginners. If necessary, remove your skis and walk. 
  • You should avoid ice patches by any means necessary.
  • Cross-country skis are lighter than downhill skis and have straighter edges, making acquiring stability down a hill difficult. Skiers who are more experienced learn to regulate their speed and direction downhill by sliding, snow plowing or taking quick, tiny side steps.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Cross-Country Skis 

Fortunately, you don’t have to learn completely new things when choosing country skis. The waxing techniques, maintenance, skis — it’s all the same. However, here’s a pro-tip for cross-country skiing beginners: always go for cross-country skis with scales.

Scaled skis require very little maintenance and feature textured surfaces that provide excellent traction on steep slopes. They are perfect for beginners or those who ski on slopes that have been mechanically groomed.

Thanks to modern technologies, skis with skins are making a major comeback. Skins are an ideal compromise, providing the optimum combination of traction, glide, and easy maintenance. 

More traditional skiers and athletes still use waxed skis for cross-country skiing. The waxed underside makes the skis glide better on the snow. That said, you should know what types of wax to use for your board, as it varies according to temperature, weather, and type of tour. 

All these little details may not seem like much to you. Combined, though, they can have a huge impact on making your first cross-country skiing adventures as fun and safe as possible.

Transitioning Between the Styles of Skiing 

If you are established as a different kind of skier, especially Alpine skiing, transitioning to cross country skiing is not hard at all. You are already familiar with the climate conditions, slopes, and basic techniques.

The major differences include:

  • You experience edging because most cross-country skis have no metal edges.
  • The skis are more narrow and harder to balance.
  • You need more power to move on flat terrain or uphill.

Apart from this, cross country skiing is easy to adapt if you are already adept at Alpine skiing. 


Cross-country skiing is an enjoyable sport and is easy to grasp if you train hard enough. We recommend enlisting an instructor to show you the ropes as a beginner. If you are unsure of what style of skiing to choose, the classic style is safe to begin.