Few hundred years ago skiing was the only way to move in northern countries during winters. From a way to hunt and to survive it has evolved into a versatile modern sport. Skiing is perfect sport for everyone, regardless of age, condition or personal goals.
Anyone who knows how to walk learns to ski. You can ski from a toddler to an oldster. Skiing can be easy or very demanding, make your own choice. Cross-country skiing is truly a lifetime hobby.
Skiing is an effective sport for the entire body. When skiing, every muscle in the body is working. That’s why the gym cross trainers are trying to simulate classic skiing, unfortunately without the snowy forest experience. Skiing is also an endurance sport effectively developing your oxygen uptake and blood circulation.
Trails make skiing an interval sport. When you climb up, the heart rate rises. You can rest when you slide downhill. Moving on slippery snow with skis improves balance and activates the whole nervous system of your body.
Sport over generations
You can start skiing early. A two-year-old child easily learns how to move on skis. A four-year-old kid is already skiing like a champ. On the other hand, you can ski safely as long you can move. And the longer you ski, the more you will have those active years.
Skiing is therefore a genuine family sport over generations. On the trails you can often see kids skiing with their grandparents.
For health, skiing is one of the best sports. It is a safe way to move, falling in soft snow rarely hurts. When you run your feet are getting a heavy hit on every step, skiing saves you from that impact.
That’s why cross-country skiing is the perfect sport for people with lower body problems. It is also a good way to rehabilitate yourself from various kinds of injuries and regularly used by recovering sportsmen.
It’s easy to adjust your strain and heart rate to your desired level while skiing. When running, if your speed drops, it turns into a walk. When cycling at too slow a speed, you will fall. When skiing, you can go very slow and smoothly. It’s still skiing.
On the other hand, skiing can also be an extremely hard and heavy sport. Many top athletes with the highest levels of oxygen uptake are cross-country skiers. The 15-kilometer ski race can be one of the most gruesome forms of competition in the whole sport. 100 kilometers or even longer races are for real champions of endurance sports.
Have a winter picnic
Skiing just might be the finest way to enjoy the winter nature. The skier becomes one with nature on the snowy trails. You must hear the sound of skis sliding on trails in a silent forest to understand that.
Scandinavian Lapland’s offers you never-ending trails in the wilderness. In the daytime sun is dazzling, at night you can admire the Northern Lights. In the Alps, mountain air and the magnificent scenery make you understand what breathtaking literally means. In the shelter of the forest you can enjoy the silence and watch for the animal tracks. You can have a winter picnic on the sea ice. Go on a skiing trip and pack some sandwiches and thermos bottle of hot chocolate in your backpack.
From bear hunting to popular modern sport
Two different techniques bring good variation to cross-country skiing. Alongside classic skiing technique, there is the skate skiing technique. While classic skiing can be easy if you choose so, skate skiing is more demanding, sporty, and requires good fitness. Skating is clearly a faster way to ski than the classic one.
Cross-country skiing has become more popular again in recent years at its birthplaces in Scandinavia and Russia. In continental Europe the number of cross-country skiers has increased steadily for last decade. North American countries have risen to the top of the international competition level. There is also a cross-country skiing boom starting in Asia. Having their own Winter Olympics, China and Korea are the next hotbeds of xc skiing.
From the Northern peoples’ way of hunting in the winter, chasing moose and bears, cross-country skiing has evolved into a modern and versatile sport at its finest.
Axa Sorjanen – Educated skiing instructor, award winning Finnish journalist, writer and documentarist
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