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The Cross Country / Nordic Ski Thread 17/18

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Last few years we've not had enough snow in the valley to really warrant taking the XC kit out.

When I was last out three or so years ago I really started to think about switching from Classic XC to the more physical but sublime (when done well) skating style and again yesterday on my second outing of the season and again today afterwards I'm now starting to Google and looks at Glisshop for gear and work out how best and what the investment might have to be and I'd probably have to bite the bullet and buy a season pass.

Currently we go out at lunchtime as no "Jobsworths" are around and it's not really until the Feb holidays do they check and patrol as apart from not having a pass dogs are interdit.

Have to say it's most social and I just love and admire good skating technique though my Classic is coming along and at times I start to feel almost cool with my style, flow and speed then a skater comes past rolling eyes

As I keen cyclist there are similarities in XC as a sport in that you can take it nice and easy and or beast yourself. You can sprint or glide on the flat or scare yourself on a simple blue or red.

Here in Serre Chevalier we're quite spoilt for locations as there are numerous other valleys with superb courses in stunning locations such as Nevache, Cervieres / Les Fonts and Le Laus below the Izoard* as well as five mins in front of where we live.

I'm not too sure should I take lessons as I seemed to have picked up Classic well and I can skate almost with those skis. On Alpine skis I can skate on the flat anyway?

So apart from buying Online there is the option of renting and then buying from the shop but as it's the beginning of the season I suspect deals will not be forthcoming.

Are there actually any SnowHeads that do XCoutntry and have switched to Skating - I know Pamw does / has.

When you think how massive it is as a sport in Scandinavia and yet does not seem to be that popular with Brits unless of course you're in the services. And here in Serre Che we have the army every year and there's a range on my local course where you can pay to fire of a few rounds.

Anyway a few pics from today out with the OH and Les Chiens





*ambition is to skate up to the Izoard but not too sure about the down
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@Weathercam, mrsthecramps and I have done a bit of X-country in Finland and like it alot. We will be doing it again definately, perhaps in March, not sure yet. Skating is something we like the look of, but haven't tried yet. It does look quite hard with no edges though.
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I can't skate - would love to but too pld to start....I've seen lots of people taking skating lessons in Les Saisies. Looks v technical. I'd take a couple of lessons. Being able to skate on the flat in alpine gear ( which I can) doesn't quite cut it.
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I've only done it once, for the Vasaloppet a few years ago, and I really loved it - classical only I'm afraid, the skating looks far to strenuous! Laughing Laughing Laughing

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@Weathercam, Mrs jbob is very keen and Iíve grown to like it more and more. We do classic and Iím most envious of the skaters but itís too late for me to swap and thereís no chance of Mrs jbob changing.
When I lived in cham I used to get a season pass for 50 Euro but the fonding was quite limited. Now in Aosta itís all included with the season pass and thereís loads more to do incl some fantastic lonely valleys.
Iíve had a plan to do the Jura grand traverse, which is a multi day trip in huts and hostels, for a couple of years but the conditions have been poor. This year itís already in good nick so it chould be on.
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@Weathercam, the cheapest place for buying kit near cham is decathlon. Mrs jbob had a couple of lessons which she enjoyed but picked up more from YouTube videos.
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@jbob, good suggestion re Decathlon. In fact one has finally opened in Briancon so will take a look. And yes they're are loads of good YouTube vids.
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@Sack the Juggler, you did the Vasaloppet?!! What was it like?? Were you very fit to begin with? Itís on my (long term) to-do list
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moseyp wrote:
@Sack the Juggler, you did the Vasaloppet?!! What was it like?? Were you very fit to begin with? Itís on my (long term) to-do list


Hi Moseyp,

We did the opening race of the Vasaloppet festival, the Kortvasan (the short Vasa), it starts at Oxberg instead of Salen so its only 30km long, but it has a few steep downhills in it.

Our preparation wasn't great, I had run the Stockholm half marathon about six months before (very slowly) and I lost 10kg for the race itself (New Year diet and no booze), but I wasn't very fit.

We had been skiing in Salen for the New Year so popped down to our friend's house in Mora (the finish line) and borrowed some cross country skis to "give it a go" around a track and also the lower part of the course. We spent an hour or so just learning to stay upright and how to glide and double pole effectively, but it was just with friends, and no real lessons as such. And that was our training.

Come the opening day in February, we were at the start line trying to remember how to ski properly. There were about 10,000 in the race and we went off in the 4th wave... except we didn't, it took us a while to remember how to glide so by the time we crossed the start line everyone else was way ahead of us, and all the families and friends cheering everyone on were looking at us like we were going to die. Laughing

But once we got our glide going we caught up with the back markers by the first hill that leads up to the main track (about 2km), and then we started overtaking people, which was a great feeling!

The race itself is fantastic, xc skiing is very exhilarating, its hard work, but you are gliding through crisp mountain air, through beautiful scenery, in fact if it wasn't for all the other competitors it would have been heaven snowHead Its also like a folk festival in that there are people cheering you on along the way, and kids helping out at hot blueberry soup stations along the way.

What I found difficult was the downhills, especially in the first 3rd of the race, as they are fairly steep and long and one of them is particularly fierce. I hadn't worked out how to slow down on the hills until the second part of the race, and I wasn't good enough to switch lanes at speed, so I took a few tumbles, either when I couldn't avoid someone else who had fallen or on fast bends. Luckily I had come prepared for this as I'd fallen a few times whilst going around the track in Mora, so I wore my mountain bike crash pants and lightweight shoulder / elbow cushioning. I highly recommend these Laughing

On the less steep hills I saw how people were slowing down, its a kind of half snow plough and it works well... except as you get further through the race you find those ahead of you have wiped away the tracks on the short downhills so it becomes a bit more difficult to stay upright (as no tracks), but I managed it.

I have to say that despite my lack of ability and training I finished only an hour behind my friends who do it each year and I was far from last, and I was surprised at the range of abilities in the race (from expert to complete novice), but I really really enjoyed it and would love to do it again.

Although I'd probably take lessons next time, but I'd keep the padding Embarassed

If you want to do it then I'd suggest that you start with the Kortvasan to give you a taste of it, and its great fun anyway snowHead
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@Sack the Juggler, nice write-up thanks, sounds like a great experience!
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Living in Sweden doing XC is on my list... I just need to get down the shop and buy the kit to force myself. Thinking classic, with the skins (canít be bothered with the different waxes). Some friends are into skating, but they are the fitness freak types. Not sure if I even have the ambition to do a vasaloppet (or even a short version). Quite fancy kungsleden though, but I think that is done on touring ski.
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Quote:

Thinking classic, with the skins (canít be bothered with the different waxes).

Why not waxless skis?

Iím another who ski classic only. Pam w was right, being able to skate on 80+mm single camber alpine ski doesnít come close to being able to skate on 40mm double camber nordic skis. The other discouraging thing I observed is all the skaters wizzing pass me were much younger than me. Evil or Very Mad

I donít live close enough to consistent snow to get the amount of time needed to take up skating. Iíd just enjoy classic till my circumstance changes, if ever.

Most people take some lessons. But a few can actually pick it up without. Nothing to lose giving it a go either way.
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You don't normally use skins on classic XC skis. Mine are waxless though a little glide wax on the non-scale parts of the bases doesn't go amiss. I'm always surprised when XC holidays are advertised as suitable for complete beginners but I guess they are on flat or almost flat terrain where any old shuffle will get you round, albeit so inefficiently that 90 year olds will overtake. I learnt in Les Saisies where many if the trails are quite difficult. None of them flat. On steep gradients the tracks disappear so you can't do the easy "demi chasse neige" with one ski conveniently in the track. I found full snowplough v difficult at first and am still wobbly. When the track is icy it's tricky. I found learning to snowboard much easier. Big fat metal edged thing!!

I am 70 and am frequently overtaken by skaters definitely at least as old, sometimes older. Done well and at a relaxed pace it's very efficient and looks wonderful. But hard to learn at an advanced age; I know my limitations!
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pam w wrote:
You don't normally use skins on classic XC skis.


Things have moved on Pam. Skins are taking over in the XC Ski world, even Birkebeinerrennet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkebeinerrennet) has been won on skin skis. See for example:-


http://youtube.com/v/25WmKWM5Puk

The top racers still wax, but for how much longer?

Out of the two disciplines classic is actually the harder to do well, to get a good kick, compared to skating.

Quote:
I am 70 and am frequently overtaken by skaters definitely at least as old, sometimes older.


It is technique.
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Was looking at gear today in the flesh all a tad bewildering - think I'll go the rent and then buy route.

And @abc, & @pam w, nothing I like better than a challenge Toofy Grin
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I have skins on my skis, they make such a difference uphill
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Quote:

The top racers still wax, but for how much longer?

Didn't the same argument played out when waxless skis improved enough to be "almost" as good?

Still, practically ALL of today's top racers wax in competition.
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moseyp wrote:
I have skins on my skis, they make such a difference uphill

Classic or skate?

If classic, on waxable or waxless skis?
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Waxless classic, the Salomon Aero 9. I had only skied rentals before so donít have much context but I really like them
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abc wrote:
Quote:

The top racers still wax, but for how much longer?

Didn't the same argument played out when waxless skis improved enough to be "almost" as good?

Still, practically ALL of today's top racers wax in competition.


Marginal gains, I know.
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davidof wrote:
abc wrote:
Quote:

The top racers still wax, but for how much longer?

Didn't the same argument played out when waxless skis improved enough to be "almost" as good?

Still, practically ALL of today's top racers wax in competition.


Marginal gains, I know.

But racing at the top level is all about the smallest margin.

(That's also why they dope, marginal gains Toofy Grin )
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abc wrote:

(That's also why they dope, marginal gains Toofy Grin )


Yes, the Norwegian team have a Salbutamol "problem".

but as I said, the Birkebeinerrennet, which is part of the Worldloppet, was won on skins. One of the best noridic ski shops in Oslo (a bit like one of Weathercam's pro guide stores that he frequents) only stocks skin skis now for classic. The advantage is that it works better than scales for amateur skiers in the majority of conditions, very cold excepted. However Atomic have inter-changable skins that can address this issue by fitting longer or shorter hairs.

Still, scales, skins it probably doesn't make a huge difference to most people. Probably best to work on technique first.
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Well I ingest a lot of Salbutamol and it doesnít seem to work for me.
Mrs jbob has skins and flies along. Iím considering an up grade.
Now where has that thread about waxing your skins gone..
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jbob wrote:
Well I ingest a lot of Salbutamol and it doesnít seem to work for me.


I've picked some up from the chemist to try out when I'm over my chest infection.
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Interesting to catch up! How do skins work when you keep changing from uphill to downhill?
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pam w wrote:
Interesting to catch up! How do skins work when you keep changing from uphill to downhill?


Better than scales apparently but not quite as good as an expert waxing as ABC notes, remember the hairs point backwards, like a cat so they glide. The advantage with some of the skin systems is you can change the skins for different snow types. You still need a good kick with weight applied at the right spot.

As you know aux Saisies there are some very expert skiers around. I remember being overtaken by a young lady who was a French team member a couple of years ago and there is night and day between most people's shuffling around (obviously not you Pam as you've done lessons) and the speed and grace of an expert, most impressive.
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You're too kind @davidof. I don't shuffle but "speed and grace" are not words you'd associate with my skiing. Yes, the standard here is very high which is both inspiring and discouraging. Though being overtaken by beautiful bodies in lycra has its compensations.
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Do XC skins just cover the kick zone?
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pam w wrote:
Do XC skins just cover the kick zone?


Did you take a look at the video I posted? It is about a 30cm strip under the kick zone.
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Ah
Ok. My signal here too slow for vids. Will look next time I hit civilisation...thanks.
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@pam w, mine feel the same as my touring skins, unpleasant when you rub them up the ski but smooth the opposite way so they lose the grip when you move downhill. Theyíre just a small section underfoot

Like I said I donít have much comparison but I did feel a big difference when I started using them, especially for a novice like me
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Left home to walk the dogs this morning on a mission to investigate options.

As I crossed over the bridge near the ski du fond trail a guy with all the gear who certainly looked the part and was still sweating, and who had strawberry blond hair (don't want to upset people Smile ) was coming the other way so started a conversation with him thinking he might be Brit / Scottish - turned out he was Swedish - and I asked him about his gear - turned out he had the Atomic skins and classic skis - and he was on his third outing on them and was most impressed.

Went to the shop where I know the crew, as I walk past them nigh on every day and where I'd bought my Classic gear three years ago and ended up walking out with some immaculate intermediate One Way Premio 9 skis and Salomon bindings and pristine Salomon Equipe 8 boots & poles (Classic ones are shorter) all for Ä240 - then popped up to see Davina (sister of Darren Turner) who runs Ski Connections and was at a function with last night, and have booked a one hour lesson next Wed!

So watch this space Very Happy

*OH not too impressed rolling eyes
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pam w wrote:
I don't shuffle but "speed and grace" are not words you'd associate with my skiing.

Grace, if not necessary speed, is all I stride for (pun intended).

My theory being, the more smooth and efficient I do it (ďgraceĒ), the longer I can keep it up as I get older.

I also ski in an area with lots of racers training. Once I tried to tail along as a group sail pass. It was most disconcerting as I could see each of his stride glide more than double the glide distance of mine! Mad
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@abc, me too. I aim for efficiency, enjoyment and not too much falling over!

Bonne chance, @Weathercam.
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@pam w, I rarely fall over. But in terms of efficiency, I still have a long way to go.

I experimented with putting the foot bed from my alpine boot into my nordic boot (needed a bit of modification because the nordic boot is half a size larger). The result was encouraging. I felt more control, less wobbly which helps to glide better.

Weathercam wrote:
nothing I like better than a challenge Toofy Grin
@Weathercam, enjoy your journey of embracing the challenge! Very Happy
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a bit of Nordic porn from tonight, on a style note neither skier has a good posiiton, you should be able to draw a straight line from binding to knee to hip to shoulder at the end of the extension.

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I have a pair of fairly cheap fishscale skis for track skiing here in Scotland, I've managed a couple of days in Glenmore forest so far this year but the rain has washed it all away for now. For more serious ski touring in Scandinavia my back country skis are fitted for kicker skins, the front of the skins fits in a slot in the ski and the rest is glued on. The skins cover from just in front of the toe to just behind the heel. You can still leave the skins off and wax when the going's good and just use the skins for long uphills and difficult snow. Best of both worlds.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!

Fabulous in cham yesterday.
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Knew that on the first day I use my skating gear along with a lesson it will be puking down rolling eyes

Oh well will grab a couple of hours up the hill at Noon as the hordes give up to come back down for lunch then lesson at 14:30 - though will ring up to see if it's still happening!
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@OwenM, do you feel the extra weight if you leave the skin on in say, rolling terrain?
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