Cross-country skiing provides a good alternate activity for guests at ski resorts who have no desire to downhill ski, but it also can serve as an introduction to that sport. Several years after taking up the sport of cross-country skiing, I visited Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, where Dick Taylor, a former U.S. Olympic Ski Team competitor and coach, was Nordic director. I was writing an article with Taylor's help for Outside magazine. An arrogant runner-turned-Nordic skier, I planned to spend the entire visit ignoring the downhill slopes. My wife Rose was more adventurous and opted for downhill lessons. She seemed to be having so much fun that I finally decided to spend at least one day as a downhill skier.
Actually, I had tried downhill skiing while in college and didn't care that much for the sport. A competitor in track & field with Olympic aspirations, I feared that a serious fall might end my running career. But that day at Copper Mountain, I discovered that equipment improvements in the several decades I had been off downhill skis had made the sport not only much easier to learn, but also safer. I also learned that my cross-country ski skills gave me a leg up on learning how to downhill ski. As a cross-country skier, I had learned how to shift weight from ski to ski, something that downhill ski instructors have to carefully teach their clients. Because I was fit, I also was able to maintain my strength and agility during a long day of skiing. I didn't fatigue easy, thus was able to ski longer and safer. Over the next several decades, I discovered I enjoyed downhill skiing as much as cross-country.
However, I also learned that downhill skiing improved my cross-county ski skills. Turning techniques proved similar in both sports. And skiing fast downhill took the edge off some of my fears about skiing fast on steep cross-country trails. I now advise cross-country skiers to ski downhill and downhill skiers to ski cross-country if they want to become complete skiers.
This brings us to the end of my Beginning Skier's Guide. Whether you are a runner looking for a winter cross-training routine or someone looking for an introduction to a different sport, I hope this helps you enjoy winter more than you did before.
|Getting Started||Ski Technique||In Full Stride|
|Where to Ski||Turning||Snowshoes|
|Two Techniques||Stopping||Downhill Skiing|