Nordic Skiing for Fun and Fitness


The origins of Nordic skiing can be traced back thousands of years to the people of Scandinavia. Ancient rock paintings depict skis being used for hunting and transportation. Many years later, in the early eighteen hundreds, skiing began it's transition to a sport and leisure activity. The Norwegians are credited with developing skiing as the sport we know today. A farmer named Sondre Nordheim was the first to attach heel bindings to skis and developed techniques such as the Telemark and Christie turns now. Telemark style turns were favorable for the flatter Norwegian terrain, but as the sport grew in popularity across the world, adaptations to the ski had to be made. Today, the differing factor between alpine or downhill skiing and Nordic skiing is the heel. Nordic, cross-country, and Telemark skis have free heels with bindings that only attach at the toe. This type of ski can be used on groomed trails and backcountry terrain while Alpine skiers use an attached heel on steep, downhill terrain. Cross Country Skiing debuted as an Olympic event in Chamonix in 1924.

The Nordic Origins of Skiing
Cross Country Skiing History
History of Skiing
The U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Hall of Fame
Olympic History of Cross Country Skiing


Nordic skiers utilize two main techniques, classic and skate skiing. When skiing in classic style, the kick zone is in the center of the ski and the skier can kick and glide or shuffle forward. The technique used will change depending on the terrain. Within classic style, the skiers use diagonal stride, double pole, and kick double pole techniques. Skate style is named for ice skating. The skier uses the edge of the ski for grip and pushes off to the sides with aid of the poles for propulsion. This technique is used on groomed trails and during biathlon competitions. There are several styles within the skate technique including, Diagonal V Skate, Offset, One Skate, Two Skate, Free Skate, and Jump Skate. The following links will provide further details and examples of Classic and Skate skiing.

Cross Country Ski Technique
Telemark, Alpine, and Nordic Skiing
5 Tips for Classic Skiing
Ski Academy Videos
Cross Country Ski for Beginners
Ski Technique Videos
Classic Ski Techniques Manual
How to Skate Ski
About Skate Skiing
The Diagonal Stride
Technique Videos


Choosing the correct equipment is essential to a successful and enjoyable Nordic skiing experience. When purchasing equipment, a skier must consider the type of ski they should use, ski length, ski camber, ski flex, a taxable vs waxless ski, boots, bindings, poles, and clothing. Body weight is usually used to determine the best fit for ski length. The various style of skis are tailored for use in different styles, terrains, and activities. There are several guides below detailing a variety of ski equipment and further information on the process of waxing skis.

How to Choose Ski Gear
Sizing Charts
Buying Guide
Ski Waxing Guide
Variations of Ski Wax
Storing Skis Off Season

Fitness and Activities

Nordic skiing is great aerobic exercise that will increase fitness and make the cold winter months something to look forward to. Nordic skiing is a total body workout that burns up to 1200 calories per hour. The activity is low impact and does not stress any specific muscle group, so the sport is well suited for people across a variety of levels of health and fitness. There are many ways to enjoy Nordic skiing including racing, tours, and on and off trail exploring. A biathlon competition involves skate style skiing as well as target shooting. For the serious skier who can't get enough, there are roller skis that will allow you to train during summer months. The health benefits of Nordic skiing are undeniable and there are a variety of locations to explore and activities to try while skiing this winter.

Skiing Health Benefits
10 Reasons Skiing is Healthy
Ski Games