This week I caught up with Debbi Waldear from the Cross Country Center and she gave me the low down on all the different types of Nordic skis (yes, there is more than one!).
A Quiver of Nordic Skis
Cross country skiing has a lot of different disciplines to the sport. Which means it takes a huge variety of skis to partake in the different aspects of the sport. For us ski junkies it’s FUN to have lots of different skis. We thrive on having the right ski on the moment.
Cross Country skiing can be divided into several disciplines.
- Casual ski tour type - goes out on the track to ramble and wander
- The “track skier” - racer sort whom likes to move fast powered by strength and endurance
- Avid backcountry- enjoys traveling over snow much like hiking in the summer, off trail in roadless areas;
- Telemarker - enjoys the downhill aspects engaging in the traditional Nordic telemark turn
Sounds simple? The catch is that each discipline requires a different ski. Then within the disciplines there is a variety of skis to cover all different snow conditions and terrain situations.
Try a waxless, medium ski or maybe something a little wider for deep snow. Waxless skis have a pattern under the foot allowing you to grip the snow and kick off to the other ski, they’re not too high tech and are created for the spontaneous skier that enjoys an afternoon cruise. If you still have a wonderful old pair of wood skis, keep them in your quiver as a conversation piece. Consider replacing old skis with new, shorter skis designed to maneuver and turn with greater ease.
Track Skiers/Performance Skiers
For classic skiing (the traditional kick and glide technique) a waxless ski for those icky days is needed, a pair of classic skis for powder snow and a pair for Klister (Klister is gooey kick wax designed for spring conditions) skis. For the skate method, there is no grip under the foot of the ski and you’re instead pushing off the edge of the ski. Both disciplines require skis for soft and hard snow conditions. Racers tend to have lots of skis. Even if you are just an occasional track skier, you will want a pair of high performance skis to enhance your gliding power.
Avid Backcountry Skiers
Your choice of ski will depend on conditions and terrain choice of the day. For starters, a good pair of waxless metal-edge skis is a must. For those perfect powder mornings - a pair of shape skis for turning. For multi-day trips - something a little wider and stable for carrying a heavy pack. And don’t forget a pair of light weight cruisers for crust days. Be sure to keep the old retro skis just in case you want to take them out to see if you can still turn them, or not!
Ski choice for telemarking on the Mountain again depends very much on the conditions and terrain. Lots of choices, lots of skis. For telemarking in the backcountry the ski needs to be more versatile and lighter skis. For mountaineering usually a stiff and a soft pair of shaped skis will do.
As the avid cross country skiers’ interest expands so does the desire of skis for the right situation. The above quiver includes about sixteen pairs of skis. Count your skis! Are you prepared for all conditions and disciplines? I’m embarrassed to say that my quiver is full. And I enjoy every pair of skis I own.
If you’re still curious, stop by the Cross Country Center – Debbi and her crew are more than happy to share their knowledge and get you set up on the perfect skis for you.
The Kirkwood Cross Country Center is located on Hwy 88 just east of Kirkwood’s entrance.