Cross Country Skiing as winter cross training
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  1. #1
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    Cross Country Skiing as winter cross training

    I live in Switzerland and here we have many alpine skiing resorts.

    I've been doing the downhill skiing, but it doesn't feel to me as much as an sport as cycling.

    • You have to drive or go by train to the ski station ( 1 or 1:30 hours trip )
    • You have to wait in line for the lift
    • You have to go siting on the lift up to the mountain
    • You come downhill "braking" or modulating the speed with your skis


    I think of it more related to MTB downhill riding than to road riding.

    I have been advised to try cross country skiing.

    1. Skating skiing is more like road cycling, long and thin skis and stiff boots, to go fast and do climbing and sprinting, and it's an excersise that demands action on all your body muscles.
    2. Classic Cross Country skiing is more like commuting or cross country cycling, you go on prepared trails and use wider but still long skis and softer boots.
    3. Touring Cross Country skiing is like cyclotouring, shorter and wider skis and more comfortable boots and you can go long distances.


    I bought me the equipement to do skating skiing and will try it for the first time this weekend.

    I started this thread so we road cyclists that want to try a similar demanding sport for the winter can share thoughts and experiences about it.

    welcome to all your posts !
    Last edited by Salsa_Lover; 12-30-2008 at 11:54 AM.

  2. #2
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    Before I started cycling seriously I used to cross country ski a fair bit. I would highly recommend spending some money on lessons. It can be pretty frustrating at first, but if you have some good instruction right off the bat it can help prevent bad technique later on.

  3. #3
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    +1 for getting instruction from a certified instructor.

    I know a triathlon coach and he highly recommends skate skiing as winter training for cyclists.
    I like cats, I just can't finish a whole one by myself.

  4. #4
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    I am Canadian and I used to live in Edmonton AB which is pretty far north. Almost all of the road racing cyclists do a lot of XC skiing in the long winters. I am now just getting back into XC skiing after moving to the west coast 9 years ago, since the greater Vancouver BC area has been besieged with real winter and riding outdoors has been shelved for the last 2.5 weeks.

    Both skate and classic have their respective benefits for cross-training purposes. Skate skiing has the element of speed, and the stride definitely works more muscle groups than classic skiing. But the energy costs of skate skiing are very high, such that even for a decent skier it is hard to do long sessions (over 2 hours). For me, there are two perceived effort zones in skate skiing - all out on flat ground and super-all-out on any uphill! Classic skiing is great for doing longer, less intense sessions as it is much easier to regulate the intensity when doing the classic stride. I could do a 4 hour classic ski, but no way I could skate for 4 hours.

    One other consideration is prevalent snow conditions and temperatures. Skate skiing totally sucks if it is very cold because the snow loses it glide even with obsessive waxing. The glide starts to drop off siginificantly after -15 C. Similarly, classic skiing sucks when the snow is wet unless one is using waxless skis. Wet or crystalline snow = using klister for kick zone on the skis and this is very messy and annoying for all but the truly obsessive skier who loves to spend as much time prepping skis as skiing on them.

    Overall, to pick one (skate or classic) I would say skate is better for cross training purposes unless one is in a very cold climate, then it is good to have classic as an alternative.

  5. #5
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    I play ice hockey durring the winter, its a great way to stay in shape. If you don't play hockey just go to your local rink and try skating.

  6. #6

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    the reverse is alos true, biking is great for skiers! Ive met some pro skiers in europe training during the summer, it is simply the best cross training especially in areas of snow where riding is out of the question.
    In THEORY... Theory works - M__E

  7. #7

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    I live in this freezer of a country as well.

    The first winter here I did shite load of XC skiing (that was my old school training days). I went out even when it was below -30 and longest session was 5h 30min and ~100km. I had a pretty good season, or as good as possible when you can't afford to travel out of the prairies.

    Last winter I did less skiing because I managed to get a trainer and later a PT. My skiing was faster and longest session 3h but fast. I was faster on a bike though but probably mostly because I changed my training in general. I don't want to stay November-April on a trainer though so skiing is good change.

    I don't do classic style. It's technically too difficult for me and waxing takes more time. It would be nice in colder weather, but skating is ok too. I have 18 years of somewhat serious skiing on my legs so I have fairly good technique for a non-racing skier.

  8. #8
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    I would get some classic cross country gear and once you are comfy on that, rent some telemark gear and give it a try. Nothing works your legs and adrenal gland like ripping some steep powder on tele skis. You can also use your new skills for social things like hut trips and back country skiing adventures. Learning to tele ski is a challenging experience, but having strong quads is a huge advantage. Moonlight xc skiing is a nice relaxing workout which is chick-booze-dog friendly, which are big +++s in my book.

  9. #9
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    Waxing

    Quote Originally Posted by hooj
    I don't do classic style. It's technically too difficult for me and waxing takes more time.
    No need to wax. Unless you're racing, get waxless classic skis. They're much more flexible in any snow condition.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons
    No need to wax. Unless you're racing, get waxless classic skis. They're much more flexible in any snow condition.
    I'll do that the day I replace my bikes with a hybrid.

    Well even if waxing would be solved, I still can't do classic.

  11. #11
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    I would have to agree on avoiding the waxless skis... When I was younger I used a pair for a while before getting wax able classic skis. They were real nice if it was a day where the snow was hard to gauge for wax type, and required much less solid technique to use. However, going down hill on them was a living nightmare. They are noisy and they glide about as well as human skin over asphalt.

  12. #12

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    waxless isnt truly waxless, apply some glide wax and they get along pretty good. I XC for outdoor activity during unridable months. I dont care if I am an olympic qualifier because it gets me going pretty good and kills several hours on weekends to break up the monotony of the weekday trainer routine. It is actually pretty fun having something to do that you could give a crap less if you are good at that still has beneficial results, kind of like playing when you were a kid. I fall occasionally and just lay in the snow and laugh, all the xc tools look at you like you are some kind of loser, big whoodeewhoo. Whatever works for you and gets you where you need to be!

    Classic isnt the cool thing to do, but you do it with some tempo and you will work, it isnt the same kind of work as on the bike though, double poling is a great upper body/core workout. There are some olympic team members around here and they can flat rip it up.

  13. #13
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    Here in southern New England, it is definitely waxless skis as the way to go. If I were back in Colorado, I would shelved those waxless skis till late spring as I hate klisters, though I do love a good wax ski - but stick to the hard waxes.

    Do the traditional Xcountry style as I prefer to just go locally to some golf course if less than 5 inches of the new stuff and off into the woods breaking trail if there is more than 5". As for workout, breaking trail up and down hills in 6" or more of snow will give you plenty of upper and lower body workout. After 2 hrs of cooking through the woods, I'm pretty spent.

    One other small problem I have with the whole skate craze is its enviro impact. Around here you have to drive some distance to a skate track, a track that has been groomed by a snow mobile or cat. Just launching off into the woods or across a golf course making one's own trail or following in another's certainly has a lower carbon footprint.


    It only hurts if you think.

  14. #14
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    I grew up in VT xc-ski racing. dry-land training always had a cycle component. I recommend getting some instruction, or watching alot of youtube clips. I don;t XC any more, but I do Telemark ski. skied this weekend both days. my legs are completely worked, sore as hell. thinking about doing deep knee bend hops all the way down a mountain. that is Tele skiing. I find that no matter how fit I am from cycling, the only to get fit for Tele skiing is by skiing. when I get tired, I ski alpine style parallel turns. so much easier

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