As an old hand at skiing, I always considered cross-country skiing to be the retiree version of the winter sport.

But what looks so simple is, in fact, a full-body workout that requires the right combination of coordination, physical fitness, and technique. Incidentally, it also offers great scenery for nature lovers. I only found this out after trying it for myself and I have to say: I'm really into it!

It’s all a question of technique

Like any beginner, I first started with the easiest form of cross-country skiing: the traditional one. Here, you glide with your skis along a prepared track - the so-called ‘loipe’. The movement is similar to that of a cross trainer, which you’ll find in many gyms. Cross-country skiing also moves your arms and legs diagonally, which means that the left ski pole is used while the right leg is pushed backwards with the heel raised to glide on the ski, and vice versa. You’ll gather even more steam if you lift your heel dynamically, meaning that you’ll virtually be catapulted forward.

In general, it is up to you whether you really want to use up all your energy or prefer to ski at a more comfortable pace. Cross-country skiing is a great experience with every skiing style.

Skate Skiing is off track and is similar in movement to ice skating or inline skating. You may already know the V-shaped movement of the skis from watching one or another biathlon event on television. It requires a high level of physical fitness and is only for experienced cross-country skiers. The skis, binding, and shoes are also different than in the traditional form of cross-country skiing. You should therefore definitely decide which variant you prefer before renting or buying equipment.

Less is more

It isn’t just the shoes which are a lot more comfortable than those required for alpine skiing. Cross-country skis are featherlight to carry, the long queue at the lift is eliminated, you do not have to buy a ski pass, and you wear significantly less. Thermo clothing, like you would wear for jogging in winter, is quite sufficient because it’s much warmer in the valley than on the mountain, despite the wintery conditions. Furthermore, you’ll already be warm enough through doing exercise. On the other hand, sunglasses, a headband, and gloves are a must. A small backpack with provisions and a change of clothing can’t hurt either.

Skis on. Stress off.

In contrast to alpine skiing, where you have to be more alert due to the higher speed and unpredictable conditions on the piste, you can switch off significantly better with cross-country skiing. Of course, you have to pay attention to other skiers and take note of signs or partly sloping terrain, but there is more opportunity to focus on the movement and "go with the flow", enjoy the fresh air, and admire the landscape. And there's plenty to marvel at; most cross-country skiing areas pass through snowy forests, over bridges with small streams, wide snow-covered fields that sparkle in the sun and offer a first-class panorama of the mountains. In short, cross-country skiing is like yoga on skis.

Livin 'la vida loipe

If you feel like trying it out for yourself, just rent the equipment from Gearrilla and look on Google for the nearest cross-country ski areas. You usually don’t have to go very far or, when the snow conditions are really good, you can even ski in parks or on riverbanks, along loipes that other skiers have prepared by themselves. Just keep your eyes peeled, as more and more opportunities will come your way over time.

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