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The Basics of Cross Country Skiing

Getting Started

Find a local cross-country ski center. If it's your first time skiing, renting equipment is probably your best option. Make sure you find a place that has groomed trails, which will keep your skis pointed forward. Consider taking a lesson to learn the basics even faster!

The Basics


  1. This is the glide phase (pictured below). Notice the right ski weight is more toward the back of the ski allowing the other ski to glide more. 

  2. The change over phase is next. Shift your weight to the right ski. Once the weight has shifted to that ski, all the weight is placed with a quick movement downward, called “the kick.”

  3.  The glide phase begins again. The kick plus your arm swing together create a sliding movement. To do this successfully, all the weight must be on one ski or the other, not both. 

  4. Continue the glide and the kick cycle!


More Tips and Tricks


  • When using your arms, plant the poles in line with the opposite foot. Your arms should swing front and back. Using the poles will help with balance and leg drive.

  • When going uphill, put your skis in the shape of a V. Walk up the hill this way, while planting your poles behind you at the same time.

  • Try to ski on a day after it's just snowed. Fluffy snow is much easier to ski on than an icy trail.

  • Start out slow. It takes a little while to get the rhythm down of how to move your arms and legs. Choose a short trail that will only take 30 minutes to an hour. For your second try, increase the distance.

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