Cross-Country Skiing, XC Skiing, Nordic Skiing: By Any Name, Learn How This Winter

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Cross-country skiing at Bolton Valley Nordic Center. Photo: Justin Cash.

Cross-country skiing at Bolton Valley Nordic Center. Photo: Justin Cash.

No matter what you call it, Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing, or xc skiing, winters like this one–where we have lots of natural snow–are perfect opportunities to go and go often.

Look outside your window. I see piles of snow, which makes me smile. In New England, during winters when we are less blessed by the snow gods, the remarkable snow-making capacity at ski resorts provides us with the white stuff. Resorts augment the experience by carefully grooming their slopes, and whisking us back to the summit on high speed lifts. These factors along with other overhead expenses mean high operating costs for resorts, which in turn is why you have to pay high lift ticket prices. Bottom line: It costs a lot to run a thriving ski resort. I am so very thankful for what ski resorts do so we can enjoy the sport we love, even when the weather does not cooperate.

I am even more thankful during winters like this one, when Mother Nature pulls her own weight.

Cross-country ski tickets cost much less money than Alpine/downhill resort lift tickets. One reason is that you are buying a “ticket” rather than a “lift ticket.” (No lifts mean less of an operating cost for cross-country areas.) Some cross-country areas have snow-making, and most areas groom their trails, but the scale to which they do so is minuscule compared to what thriving Alpine resorts do. Cross-country skiing costs less, but the conditions are somewhat less reliable. Except, of course, during great snow years. And thus far…2011 is an outstanding snow year. (Yippee!)

In addition to the cost factor of cross-country skiing (which can even be free if you can find somewhere to go where you are not trespassing), on very cold days it’s a great option because you can stay a lot warmer while you are cross-country skiing compared to going downhill. It’s an aerobic sport, so you generate lots of heat at the same time you are getting a great work out.

If you’ve never cross-country skied before, take a lesson. It will make this new experience much more enjoyable.

Bolton Valley Resort in Bolton, Vermont, is hosting the New England Nordic Ski Association 10th Annual New England Women’s Ski Day on Sunday, January 30. It’s a full day of Nordic skiing, lessons and ski demos. Sorry, men, this day is not for you.

I really love Ski Vermont’s Reciprocal Pass Program. If you purchase a season pass at a cross-country ski area in Vermont, you can sample all the other participating Nordic areas in Vermont one day each with a one-time complimentary trail pass.

Ready to get out there? One of my go-to Web sites for checking snow conditions is Snocountry.com. They report conditions for both Alpine and Nordic resorts. Check out the Nordic report here: http://www.snocountry.com/index.php/home/ski-resort-directory/cross-country-directory.html

And for some cross-country skiing inspiration, check out David Goodman’s adventure on Vermont’s Catamount Trail in the January/February 2011 issue of Yankee Magazine.


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