Learning to ski
There are many reasons why XC skiing is popular. It
is a healthy outdoor exercise that can be done at any level of fitness.
XC skiing is a less expensive way of enjoying the snow than alpine
skiing, bringing it within the
reach of many more families. The skills required can be learnt in less
time than it takes to become a competent alpine skier while people who
can already use alpine skis will quickly learn XC techniques. XC races
cater for those with plenty of energy while touring can involve a trip
of a few hours to a whole day trip or be extended by camping out overnight.
People who are blind can ski XC as well as amputees and paraplegics. There
is no age limit on cross country skiing so toddlers can be introduced
to skis when they are good walkers and at about six years old will be
quite proficient and at the other extreme there are a few skiers still
getting out in their 80’s.
Learning to ski on cross country skis is easy;
if you can walk you can ski. With a planned series of a few lessons most
people become good enough to ski around the marked trails at resorts
Modern touring skis and boots are available for hire and are
recommended. Avoid racing skis, old skis and those with “3 pin bindings”
that have been borrowed from friends or grandfather because although they
can be used to ski on, they are difficult for a beginner to learn on.
It would be foolish to learn to ride a bike or surfboard
without guidance from an instructor and this applies to cross country
skiing also. This is relevant for downhill skiers who try cross country
skis and find it difficult, but the only problem is that different techniques
are needed on cross country skis and the downhill experience makes learning
It is difficult to learn to ski out of a book. If you
do learn out of a book you will not be a competent skier. The best way
to learn to ski is to get lessons from someone.
OK, you have a mate who has been skiing for years and
they offer to teach you. They may not be a good teacher and they may teach
you all their bad habits along the way. If you take up their offer and
within a week you can follow them anywhere you will have had a good teacher.
If you find that it is difficult to do some manoeuvres or keep up with
the others then the sooner you get some professional lessons the better.
And after having lessons take a moment to reflect on
what you have learnt. Have you learnt enough to go around the marked trail
on your own? Have you learnt enough to go out away from the marked trail
on your own? The marked trail is no guarantee that you will be able to
follow it. Many people have become distressed while skiing along a marked
trail. You will learn from your experiences and if you venture out with
care, you will eventually have the knowledge and ability to ski further
away and enjoy all that the Kosciuszko National Park has to offer.
There are many things that your instructor
can teach you:
Step turns during the diagonal stride or during
a downhill run
Sidestepping uphill and downhill
Traversing a slope
How to slow down
How to stop
How to get down a hill before you can turn
Snow plough turns
Touring in deep snow
Touring on icy tracks
Touring on wind scoured snow
Finding the best route
When booking instruction make sure that you will get
what you want. Some organisations offer guided tours that may not provide
the basic instruction needed. When you pay for instruction you should
be assured that you are getting a certified instructor. It is a good idea
to keep a diary of the important instructions given in a lesson complete
with stick diagrams to refer to each time you ski until it becomes second
cross country instruction in Kosciuszko National Park include:
Jindabyne Winter Sports
Selwyn Snowfields www.selwynsnow.com.au
Snowsports Adventure Centre, Perisher
Wilderness Sports, Jindabyne
Clubs provide instructional days through
the season as well as a calendar of weekend trips and tours and off snow
Canberra Cross Country Ski Club
NSW Nordic Ski Club
University of New South Wales Cross
Country Ski Club.
Learning more about skiing
After every ski lesson it is a good idea to write
down the important things that you have learnt together with stick
diagrams depicting the positions. Refer back to these notes frequently
while learning and then at the start of every season until they
become second nature.
Watch other skiers, especially racers and see
what they are doing. If someone is skiing better than you ask yourself
“what are they doing differently?”
Books are a useful reference to remind
you of something that an instructor has taught and it is better
to have more than one book and to read them frequently as different
authors place emphasis on different aspects of skiing technique.
Once you have a good basic technique it is possible to improve your
skiing by following suggestions from a book.
More tips to improve
your cross country skiing