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  1. #1
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    XC Skiing - where to begin?

    Living at 9,000ft offers little to no winter cycling opportunities, so I'm thinking that I'd like to maintain my fitness through the winter with some xc skiing. I'm fortunate enough to have a nordic center just a few a minutes down the road, but I have no idea where to begin.

    Should I be looking to get the more traditional xc skis, or are skate skis the way to go? What kind of investment am I looking at to get the gear? It seems like there's a lot of inexpensive used stuff on craigslist and ebay. Would appreciate any tips.

  2. #2
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    Imho

    Quote Originally Posted by displayground
    Living at 9,000ft offers little to no winter cycling opportunities, so I'm thinking that I'd like to maintain my fitness through the winter with some xc skiing. I'm fortunate enough to have a nordic center just a few a minutes down the road, but I have no idea where to begin.

    Should I be looking to get the more traditional xc skis, or are skate skis the way to go? What kind of investment am I looking at to get the gear? It seems like there's a lot of inexpensive used stuff on craigslist and ebay. Would appreciate any tips.
    Classic style is easier to get started on. Unless you have an ice skating or roller blading background, it will take most people 10-20 sessions to become proficient at the skating technique.

    It is easier to stay in zone 1-2 in classic style, and easier to stay in zone 3-4 in skate style...especially at 9000 ft.

    Equipment choice depends on if you know you are going to jump right in or not. Starting with a beginner classic set-up can get you going for $300 or less. If you don't want to bother with waxing, get the structured ski surface (ie scales). Waxing of smooth bottom classic skies for different snow temperature will greatly influence your enjoyment. However, if you like speed, you will want to get waxable skis near the upper end of the product range.

    If you really want speed and you want to jump in big time, then go right for the upper end skate ski, boots, poles. These will have to be waxed for different snow conditions for optimum performance, but you can get by without changing everytime you go out. Take a couple of lessons to get the motion down and then just put in the time and you will be flying around by the end of winter.

    enjoy

  3. #3
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    I bought my stuff new, "end of season sale" at backcountry.com.

    I went skate skis right off the bat. Got all the waxing stuff as well. Probably ran me $1000 for everthing (skis, boots, poles, waxes, waxing stand, iron, brushes, scrapers, etc.). Within 30 minutes I can get to 2 skate ski places, so the investement was worthwhile.

    The only drawbacks I see with skate skiing are:
    -Need a resort that grooms well
    -The outward leg push might exacerbate existing muscle imbalances that cycling produces. (overly built outer thigh muscles)
    -Long learning curve, and skill intensive activity. Which is a negative to some, but I like the fact that after 3 seasons, I'm still improving. I like the fact that a little old lady can skate circles around me, just because she developed the skill and efficiency.

    One day I'd like to buy some classics, just for the days that grooming isn't so good.
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  4. #4
    zrm
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    Nordic skiing can get addicting so be ready for the possibility of getting hooked on another sport.

    I'll disagree with Stevemtu. I skate and classic fairly equally and I think the nuances of classic are harder to master than skating although both are something you can do poorly and still get a good workout! I like both, they each use somewhat different muscles and require somewhat different skill sets of balance and rhythm.
    For classic. the basic beginner package of a lower end pair of boots and waxless skis and poles won't be too expensive, even if you but them new and the advantage of a set up like that is you can ski a lot of the same trails you MTB on in the summer. It's a lot easier to learn classic on set track though and they do a great job at Frisco, Gold run and Breck. Lessons are not a bad idea either..
    Waxable classic skis are a lot faster than waxless skis but you need to learn about grip wax which despite what a lot of people think, isn't that hard but does require a little prep time and better technique. All my classic skis are waxable but there's no doubt that waxless skis are easier to learn on.
    Skating is a lot faster and some think sexier. While you can put the hurt on yourself doing either technique as you push the pace higher, just to keep moving on skate skis will keep your heart rate higher than classic which you can just kind of shuffle along if you don't want to work too hard.
    Skate gear, even lower end stuff will tend to be a bit more expensive, but like with classic, you don't have to go with high end gear to learn. You would also probably appreciate the higher cuffs of skate boots coming down steeper hills and corners as you get into more challenging trails. Most serious endurance athletes who get into Nordic skiing get skating gear becuase that's what most people do these days.

  5. #5
    LMN
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    The traditionalist will steer you towards classic to start with, but as a cyclist who took up XC skiing I would recommend Skate Skiing. In order for classic skiing to be rewarding you need good skis, fitness, technique, and waxing knowledge, otherwise you are just walking on snow.

    The bulk of my winter training is on XC skis. I find the transfer from fitness from skiing to cycling is quite remarkable.

    Some advice for you:
    1. Get mid-level skate ski equipement. Cheap stuff sucks, and good stuff is expensive for the peformance gains.
    2. Spend the money to get yourself a good waxing set-up. The right wax makes skiing fun.
    3. Take a lesson or two to start with. Ski a dozen times and then take another lesson.
    4. Skate skiing is hard, adjust your workout volume appropriately (don't plan on any 4hr Skate skis in the near future)
    5. Make sure you ride you bike on the trainer once a week and twice a week as riding season approaches. When I first started XC skiing I put the bike away for the winter. In the spring I was fit and strong and couple do a long ride, but my tendons and ligaments couldn't handle it and I got injured.

  6. #6
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    Skate or classic is the same, you need to shift weight and balance on one foot and use the big muscles in your upper body. In some places classic waxing is more of a pain, but in general serious skiers will do both disciplines, often depending on which works best.

    Skiing is like swimming in that technique matters A LOT, so if you can get a lesson on rental equipment it's money well spent. Getting the proper stiffness ski is essential for your enjoyment. One or two down from the top of the line is a good value in most brands, like fischer scs level skis. If you are big, buy good quality skating poles, not aluminum. Avoid combo skis, combi boots are OK though

  7. #7
    Can't feel my legs
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    Skate is the XC version of road biking, it can only be done on groomed "roads". If you like the freedom and solitude of MTBing, get yourself a pair of backcountry XC skiis. It is all that is good about MTBing and then some. XC skiing is regulated by hiking rules, opening up areas where bikes are not allowed. Plus, areas that are normally wet or brush covered are now game on as well. Cutting trail is tough, but rewarding, not only in a feeling of accomplishment, but in a much faster/more fun loop next time out.

    MTBing fitness easily transfers to backcountry skiing and maintains your fitness to transfer back in the spring.

  8. #8
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    "Skiing is like swimming in that technique matters A LOT, so if you can get a lesson on rental equipment it's money well spent."

    I totally agree, Start with lessons, both classic, and skate. I have found that starting with a good classic base, learning proper poleing, and weight transfer on the classic gear, and then learning skate skills is easier than just going out on skate gear. Keep in mind that good balence, and cardio are essential for skate, and technique will be a huge limiting factor during your advancment in the sport, so it pays to take lessions, and get out with a group that can help with pointers while your skills mature. Remember to have fun, and keep in mind that x/c Skiing is another lifetime skill that endurance, and patience are needed to develop.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by displayground
    Living at 9,000ft....a nordic center just a few a minutes down the road...
    Sweet.

    If there's a skating lane, you'll want to be in it. 20% faster.

    But classic is the real thing, much more versatile, ski anywhere, up and down and through the trees, with good speed, on any kind of snow with the right wax. Ice is skiable with klister wax.

    You've apparently got great country to explore. Backcountry skiing is serious business, of course. Fat no-wax and skins.

    Fun in store.

  10. #10
    local trails rider
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    Skate skiing can be fast, but I still haven't got the hang of the rhythm and weight shifts. I can do it on smooth level ground without falling. Maybe it is because skate style did not exist when I started ... er ... a few decades ago. Now I am so much in the traditional groove which also lets me go slow when I need to.

  11. #11
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    serious skiers do both disciplines, both are as hard as you make them. Way back when cyclists used to speed skate in the winter and as a results some people feel skate skiing somehow transfers better to cycling, but in truth the actual physical motion of skate or classic when done correctly is pretty similar in terms of muscles used.

    It's easier to get somewhere doing classic badly as compared to skating badly. especially when hills are involved.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden
    It's easier to get somewhere doing classic badly
    Good book for you roden

    re: Heroes of Telemark

    http://www.amazon.com/Skis-Against-A.../dp/0942323076


    includes a ski chase with gunfire!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by displayground
    Living at 9,000ft offers little to no winter cycling opportunities, so I'm thinking that I'd like to maintain my fitness through the winter with some xc skiing. I'm fortunate enough to have a nordic center just a few a minutes down the road, but I have no idea where to begin.

    Should I be looking to get the more traditional xc skis, or are skate skis the way to go? What kind of investment am I looking at to get the gear? It seems like there's a lot of inexpensive used stuff on craigslist and ebay. Would appreciate any tips.

    Skate skis don't have a wax pocket, classic skiis do....

    You can skate with classic skiis, it is harder to classic ski with skate skiis, cause of the wax pocket...

    Off Piste classic skiis are really neccessary.

  14. #14
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    ski club

    Most of the previously posted advice is good. Just get a mid-priced setup and an initial lesson. Classic or skate as you guess seems more to your liking. If the sport suits you, you'll end up with both in the long run.

    Find a local club to join. It won't cost much, and can offer technique workshops, waxing clinics, social skis, and more.

  15. #15
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    One last comment.. why no winter cycling in Fraser? Up here in Steamboat I ride all year, we have as much snow, we just don't let it stop the mtbing. Get a good set of studed snow tires, handbuilt work, just not as good, and get out and ride those fire roads, and snowmoblie packed trails. It's great fun, and a good workout.

  16. #16
    LMN
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    I did my first Classic ski of the year on sunday.

    Nothing makes me as sore as the first day of classic. I feel like my legs have been torn off my body. I find only the first day of classic makes me sore, after that I am fine.

  17. #17
    local trails rider
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    Winter riding on snow trails can be great but sometimes conditions favor the skis.

    Also, some variety can be nice: always doing the same thing can get boring.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Winter riding on snow trails
    I miss the coasting part.

  19. #19
    local trails rider
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    I usually get packed snow trails where I can coast too.


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    packed snow trails

    Now that looks good!

    One of these years:

    http://www.nordicskater.com/blades.html
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  21. #21
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadHabit
    Don't forget these, in case you hit a spot of weak ice...
    http://www.nordicskater.com/safety/index.html

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Don't forget these, in case you hit a spot of weak ice...
    http://www.nordicskater.com/safety/index.html

    Believe me it's been discussed. Pretty sure I'll be alone when it happens.

    I remember back before my cortex developed having a contest with my friends as to who could skate over the thinnest river ice.

  23. #23
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    where do you live, displayground?

    i'd say getting a lesson is a must. also like the suggestion of getting a lesson to start off...then practicing hard for a week or two, and then getting another one. watch some youtube videos of professionals too and then try to mimic the movements. there's lots of little nuances they'll do to make it look super graceful/fast, but they take awhile to get down. (ie. making a point to drive your hips forward. bending at your ankles) most people i see look like they're just walking around on snow with some sliding involved. not really ideal to getting a workout to keep you in shape for cycling. but if you can get it down...the aerobic part of it is ridiculous. you'll have some great lungs come springtime.

    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    I did my first Classic ski of the year on sunday.

    Nothing makes me as sore as the first day of classic. I feel like my legs have been torn off my body. I find only the first day of classic makes me sore, after that I am fine.
    just did my first day today....though i don't plan on doing it much throughout the winter.

    i find my lower back tightens up like crazy, and my groin too if i go for long enough. legs/quads are fine for the most part.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    but if you can get it down...
    End of the season you feel like you can run through a brick wall.

  25. #25
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