As the temperatures steadily drop, the air brings forth a sense of calmness and solitude. Animals retreat into their designated homes, filling the space with the silence of a cool breeze. Winter is finally here and we couldn’t be more excited! Surely you all know that this calls for lots of skiing, snowboarding and hanging outside in the crisp, chill air. However, as you embark on your season’s traditions, we encourage adding something new to your winter lineup. Whether you are an experienced or novice athlete, cross country skiing is an exciting way to get outside and explore new landscapes!
History of Cross Country Skiing:
Cross country skiing, or Nordic skiing, is a type of sport or recreational activity in which only the toe of the ski boot is attached to the binding, allowing the heel to move freely off of the ski. This allows participants the ability to move across flat ground, relying on their own mobility. The International Olympic Committee describes cross country skiing as the oldest type of skiing, originally created as a means of transportation across snow-covered terrain. Once it developed as a sport at the end of the nineteenth century, other variants such as telemark skiing emerged. Norwegians required skis for centuries, as a means to capture game, collect firewood and maintain social contact between spread out communities. Due to the North’s snow-covered land, it is no wonder why skiing originated there. But beyond its rich history, cross country skiing has other valuable attributes that lend to its growing popularity. It is worth giving it a try for three important reasons!
- It’s a great sport to try with friends: What better way to catch up with an old friend, than by immersing yourself in the great outdoors? Cross country skiing is a snow sport that anyone can learn, especially with a good friend by your side. Imagine traversing a rolling landscape, covered with pines and the fresh scent of a new snowfall. You are dazzled by the beauty around you, while experiencing it with your best friend or loved one. After all, the most valuable things in life are not actually things, they are people. Human connection is what adds color to this world, and this sport can certainly nurture old relationships and foster new ones. It’s an experience unlike anything else, and makes for a unique outing this season!
- Winter is Meant for the Outdoors: Ah, winter. It’s the best time of the year! Although I didn’t always love winter, it wasn’t until I started to ski again that I fell back in love with it. Who knew I’d be looking forward to chilled bones and shoveling my driveway? For all of you avid skiers or snowboarders, I’m sure you understand the connection you make with your surroundings while out on the trail. There are moments in nature that truly take your breath away, and while cross country skiing, you seem to lose track of time. As you stride forward, shifting your weight back and forth to each leg, you fall into a trance with your environment. The snowflakes glisten in your peripherals, while your eyes fixate on the fresh trail ahead of you. Birds sing songs of winter’s beauty, reminding you to hold gratitude in all that surrounds you. You seem to notice things in nature you otherwise wouldn’t have, like how still everything becomes when a blanket of snow coats the ground. Instead of participating in your normal alpine skiing, you now have a new appreciation for the vast options in the sport. But my favorite thing about this sport is that you can do it just about anywhere! To find cross country trails near you, Trail Link is a helpful resource that identifies trail locations in each state.
Leave the Trail Recharged and Refreshed: Perhaps the most rewarding benefit of cross country skiing is how you feel after you are done for the day. Everyone has a form of meditation that helps them let go of whatever is troubling their mind. Some people simply sit in silence as they focus on their breath, while others find cooking, painting or even playing music a form of meditation. Whatever it may be for you, I can almost guarantee that cross country skiing can have a similar effect. Consider it a time for you to cleanse your mind of the busy day-to-day routine to just be in nature.
In a Stanford study looking at the effect that nature has on our mental health, researchers uncovered a finding that us nature-lovers all know to be true. While studying various participants, those who went on a ninety-minute walk in nature reported lower levels of rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation, compared to those who only experienced an urban environment. In layman’s terms, nature-goers reported less repetitive thought focused on negative attributes of the self. They also showed reduced neural activity in the part of our brain that is linked to the risk for mental illness. Interesting stuff, am I right? Surely, you now have no excuse not to try cross country skiing this season!
Winter lovers, rejoice! You now are enlightened on a new hobby you can take up this season. Whether you enjoy something more relaxing and calm, or thrilling and fast, cross country skiing can fit any need. It gives you the opportunity to connect with friends, nature and yourself, leaving you feeling energized and renewed. Life is about trying new things, isn’t it? Jumpstart your winter this year with excitement, and bring a friend along with you! But before you immerse yourself in the art of cross country skiing, it is important to find out what type of equipment you should be looking for. Explore our buying guide to understand your needs as a skier, whether it be trail riding, racing or backcountry skiing. Cheers to discovering new hobbies and sharing it with others!