Nordic Skiing Styles
Nordic skiing encompasses all of the free-heel ski disciplines; cross-country (classic and skate, which includes biathlon), telemark, backcountry touring, and, ski jumping. Apart from the obvious link between them of a boot fixed to the ski only at the toe, all these sports are very different in character. Each one has its own appeal and offers its own unique challenges, adventure and fun.
Cross-CountryWithin cross-country skiing you have two separate techniques, classic and skating. A narrow, light-weight design and absence of metal edges on both classic and skate skis makes them well-suited to speed and distance. They perform better on prepared trails rather than fresh snow, classic skis moving in the parallel tracks cut at the sides of the trail and skate skis moving over the groomed area in the middle.
Skate TechniqueSuperb balance, strength and co-ordination of the upper and lower body is required to produce this powerful, yet elegant, rhythmic style of skiing. Skate skiers love speed and power and this sport therefore very much appeals to many athletes from sprinters to tri-athletes and marathon runners. Generally, skate skiers stick to groomed trail systems, unless they can find some hard packed snow. They search out the steep hills to challenge their technique and usually choose 3-5k loops over 10-20k trails. Clad in aerodynamic fabrics and without packs to weight them down, skate athletes focus more on training, technique and speed rather than mileage or scenery.
Classic TechniqueClassic skiers tend to enjoy longer treks on moderately undulating terrain. The technique allows large distances to be covered effortlessly and, even with speeds kept relatively low, anything up to 30k can easily be traveled in a day. Exploring the furthest point of the trail system and enjoying the views along the classic tracks without the weight of a pack attracts these skiers. Scenery is more important than vertical, and miles more than speed.