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The 2019 2020 Cross Country, Nordic Ski thread & some tips for beginners

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Posting on The Piste section of the forum as cannot find a section on Nordic Skiiing. @Admin feel free to move this post of one exists

I would like to get into Nordic Skiing to maintain some of my cycling endurance fitness during the winter while in Chatel where there are some Nordic skiing tracks in a cold part of the valley. My though is to do this most mornings for 1-2 hours before heading skiing late morning with the family. The Nordic Centre is only 10 min drive away.

Could someone please explain the pros/cons between classic an skating let me know what equipment I need? Would like get hardware that will last a long time and can progress with. Also what are clothing essentials and is there a recommended supplier in the U.K. that can sort me out for all the kit.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 20-11-19 14:17; edited 1 time in total
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@Ozboy, I'm probably not the best person to answer this as an occasional dabbler with classic cross country, but I'll try.

Personally I think it's probably better to master the basics of classic before attempting skate. For an Alpine skier, cross country skis feel long, lightweight, unstable and difficult to control. Shuffling along a flat course is pretty easy to pick up, but being able to control speed on downhill sections and gliding forward are far more difficult to master (and these are skills I have not mastered yet!). For skis, go wide if you can, they are a lot more stable, often referred to as 'tour' classic skis. Be aware that there are different binding systems too. Most modern skis have SNS/Prolink, but you might find some older Fischer skis have a different 'NNN' binding for which SNS/Prolink boots are not compatible. Maybe best to hire to begin with.

With clothing, you don't really need to shell out on anything specific, normal base layers with a soft shell or fleece. You won't need mid layers or bulk, you'll get very warm.
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@Ozboy, Salomon have been running a campaign that has popped up on instagram quite a bit the last few weeks trying to explain the difference between classic vs. skating, you may find the info useful...

https://www.salomon.com/en-gb/nordic/nordic-advices/cross-country-skiing-classic-vs-skating
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Just go for it.

Learn classic then progress into skate.

Dress as for running.

Hire the kit to start with, you'll soon work out what works for you.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Skating takes more balance and fitness and is technically more difficult to start with. Classic is easier to get started with, but also easy to learn allsorts of bad habits.
If you want to get the most out of either style a few lessons would be worth every penny.

As far clothing, winter cycling or running gear is perfect.
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@Ozboy, there was an XC thread last year on here, both @davidof, and myself do a fair bit, I'll see if I can find the link.

@davidof, does a lot of it in the summer on his rollers though after his Strava post yesterday I'm now suspicious of what his true intentions are in doing the sport Laughing

If you're in a resort all season then it's a truly great alternative, especially in High Season to avoid the hordes.

How old, fit/weight are you when you cycle do you use a HRM monitor etc as if you have the right psyche I'd go straight into skating steep learning curve but you won't be doing 2hrs a day initially Laughing

And +1 for a lesson if going straight to skating, classic you do not need a lesson.

Clothing I pretty well use all my lycra road cycle kit, tights, top Gillet etc

I bought my gear ex-rental beginning of the season and have had no problems.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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Here you go

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3326928&highlight=country#3326928

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3152329&highlight=country#3152329

So who wants to start the The 2019 2020 XC Cross Country, Nordic Ski thread ?
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Weathercam, ah the ski club girls - they wanted the photo for their instagram wink

@queenie pretty please, Just to correct you. The de-facto binding/boot system is now NNN, SNS is dead. All the manufacturers have standardized around NNN. For classic I would get the Turnamic system (Fischer/Rossignol etc) which allows you to adjust front/back movement which can make a difference in grip.

I agree with queenie to get wider classic skis (as she says "Tour classic") and get them with skins rather than scales (note when they say 'waxless' you still need glide wax). Get them fitted by a shop that has the equipment because weight is uber important for classic skis - they need to stick to the ground when you 'kick'. Perhaps other snowheads have good suggestions for Chatel or London?

I would also start on classic as a number of movements transfer to skating but are easier learned on classic. Classic is harder than skating to do properly (not shuffling around a flat track but skiing).

That said, most French instructors will start adults off on skating these days (kids will always do both in ski clubs) and if you have an aversion to classic style then by all means just do skating.

Take lessons. Like alpine you can pick up a lot of bad habits but in cross country gravity is also your enemy.


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Wed 20-11-19 14:12; edited 1 time in total
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Weathercam wrote:
Here you go


So who wants to start the The 2019 2020 XC Cross Country, Nordic Ski thread ?


Ozboy just needs to rename this thread.
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Weathercam wrote:
@Ozboy, there was an XC thread last year on here, both @davidof, and myself do a fair bit, I'll see if I can find the link.

@davidof, does a lot of it in the summer on his rollers though after his Strava post yesterday I'm now suspicious of what his true intentions are in doing the sport Laughing

If you're in a resort all season then it's a truly great alternative, especially in High Season to avoid the hordes.

How old, fit/weight are you when you cycle do you use a HRM monitor etc as if you have the right psyche I'd go straight into skating steep learning curve but you won't be doing 2hrs a day initially Laughing

And +1 for a lesson if going straight to skating, classic you do not need a lesson.

Clothing I pretty well use all my lycra road cycle kit, tights, top Gillet etc

I bought my gear ex-rental beginning of the season and have had no problems.


Thanks - I am a 48 good endurance road rider with HRM and Power Meter. Enjoy long climbs and can maintain 900 m/h when skinny and 700 m/h in current 90kg cheese monster. Use to run 5K in 20 mins and 1:30 hr for half marathon. My Garmin reckons my VO2 is around 50-52 when really fit but currently at 47. Will most definitely look at lessons and rent until i know what suits me. Perhaps someone with more Nordic street cred could start the 2019/2020 thread or I am happy to rename this one?
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davidof wrote:
Weathercam wrote:
Here you go


So who wants to start the The 2019 2020 XC Cross Country, Nordic Ski thread ?


Ozboy just needs to rename this thread.


Done!
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I strongly agree you should have lessons for classic, which will focus on achieving glide. In the first lessons I had (a week's worth) this involved quite a bit of skiing on one ski, and skiing without poles. I was still pretty hopeless at the end of the week! I found learning to snowboard, which I did at about the same time, far easier.
Make sure the skis you buy will fit in the tracks. Hiring is cheap and a good idea to start with.
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@davidof, pretty sure NNN is the binding type that I cannot use as I have Prolink boots. I was told Prolink is the newest system but perhaps it is Atomic/Salomon specific.
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You know it makes sense.
@Ozboy, ok so as I suspected you're an above-average fit fecker when not an aspiring Michelin man, and probably a tad competitive as well, and a "sportive" which helps tremendously.

So you might get frustrated at skaters even with bad technique going past you and admire the fluidity and gracefulness of a good skater and aspire to that, which is exactly where I was after a year or so of classic, and I don't have the incentive of @davidof's, team-mates Laughing

I still have one ambition but I don't think I'll ever get to do it and that's the XC skate up the XC-piste to the Izoard, when I skin up there I see some seriously fit / great technicians flying up, and then they have the skills to ski back down the long straights that in the summer I'm nearing 80kph on!

Think your strategy is good, but I would buy outright as that will give you more incentive to get out, think I tooled myself up for around €250 or less?

I also seem to recall a few people on here advising, when I was thinking about crossing over to skating, that I would find it too difficult, how I would need loads of lessons bla bla bla wink


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Wed 20-11-19 14:38; edited 1 time in total
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queenie pretty please wrote:
@davidof, pretty sure NNN is the binding type that I cannot use as I have Prolink boots. I was told Prolink is the newest system but perhaps it is Atomic/Salomon specific.


Prolink is Salomon's version of NNN (the NNN system went out of patent in 2015 which let Salomon copy it), you can use Salomon/Atomic prolink boots in NNN bindings (beware of shop keepers with old stock).

This is a prolink binding



and this is an NNN binding



apart from a few artistic flourishes, the same thing and it has brought binding sanity to the cross country skiing world at long last.


This is an older Salomon Pilot (SNS) binding



the difference being the older (defunct) Salomon Pilot/SNS bindings have a raised center ridge rather than two ridges on the edge of the binding like Prolink and NNN. NNN and Prolink are fully interchangeable: boots + bindings but have different hole patterns for fixing to skis. If you are buying today get NNN or Prolink and erm beware of shop keepers with old stock.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Wed 20-11-19 14:41; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Weathercam wrote:


I still have one ambition but I don't think I'll ever get to do it and that's the XC skate up the XC-piste to the Izoard,


Let me know when it opens and I'll come across and we'll do it together. Who knows, you may be a lot quicker than me up there.
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@davidof, have to say I have no feckin idea what I was sold, no doubt old rental stock, and when I see new gear in the sales in the likes of Intersport I'm totally flummoxed by it all, might have to use you to advise etc etc
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@davidof, only if you bring your team mates Laughing

I'm going to need to get more kms in my legs before considering your kind offer, think it may well be open soon as the road is closed and they were working on the ski du fond piste in Valley Les Fonts when we were touring up there last week before this last dump and should be more this weekend for there as so much closer to the Queyras.
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Weathercam wrote:
@davidof, have to say I have no feckin idea what I was sold, no doubt old rental stock, and when I see new gear in the sales in the likes of Intersport I'm totally flummoxed by it all, might have to use you to advise etc etc


Well if it ain't broke, as they say.

There is no advantage to NNN over Pilot or SNS other than everything works with everything now, so you can pitch up with Salomon Prolink boots and hire some Fischer NNN equipped skis (obviously classic, skating and backcountry remain separate silos to a greater or lesser extent).
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Weathercam wrote:
@davidof, only if you bring your team mates Laughing

I'm going to need to get more kms in my legs before considering your kind offer, think it may well be open soon as the road is closed and they were working on the ski du fond piste in Valley Les Fonts when we were touring up there last week before this last dump and should be more this weekend for there as so much closer to the Queyras.


You've done a lot more cycling than me this autumn and your 500 m/h up the Serre Pistes is a good sign you are on form.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Wed 20-11-19 14:51; edited 1 time in total
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Yesterday I did exactly what Pam recommends, although not with an instructor as they were apparently off ski touring in the sun!

https://www.strava.com/activities/2876166785

basically going up and down the "school" tracks on one ski, no poles etc. This was with classic skis and I need to go back when I've got more time. The aim is to find and improve grip. I've never been good on classic so back to basics for me.

Quite a few club skiers out training as the conditions are very good for around here.
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@Ozboy, how well do you skate on alpine planks? Do you ice skate?

Sounds like you're quite a fit athlete. I would strongly suggestion you give some serious thoughts of going straight to skating as a starting point!

According to Salomon's link, "Skate skiing particularly seems to appeal to fit, athletic people".

And @Weathercam is right:
Quote:

So you might get frustrated at skaters even with bad technique going past you and admire the fluidity and gracefulness of a good skater and aspire to that, which is exactly where I was after a year or so of classic


I've just started to dabble in skating after 10+ years of classic. I have to say the above statements are quite right.

The old advice of "learning classic first because it's easier" applies more to people who never skied before. For most alpine skier who're already familiar with balancing on 2 slippery planks, there's not much point in learning classic first before learning skating.

I would go even further by saying there isn't that much carryover benefit from classic to skating (the "push" motion is completely different, downhill technique you already know from alpine skiing). So if your end result is skating (for exercise and speed), learning classic is a bit of wasteful diversion.

Teletart wrote:
Skating takes more balance and fitness and is technically more difficult to start with. Classic is easier to get started with, but also easy to learn allsorts of bad habits.
If you want to get the most out of either style a few lessons would be worth every penny.

THAT!


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Wed 20-11-19 16:01; edited 1 time in total
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On gear, I'd suggest taking a combination of the advices above.

Start with a couple LESSONS and hired gear!

(and if you're still in doubt between classic and skate, take a few lesson in each to get a feel)

That way, you know what to look for when buying your own gear. Don't get too hung up on "the right" gear. you'll unlikely to know what "right" is early on anyway. Because xc skis have no gear (as in bikes), you will likely be moving up in performance as your technique and ski-specific muscles develop. There's little chance your first pair of ski will be the one you'll be using for your 2nd or 3rd season.

Just focus on finding a boot that fits your feet well, and upgrade skis when the time comes.
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@abc, Makes sense starting with skating as I am simply after a quick, minimal faff and fun(!), fitness fix on the days when I'll be skiing with my kids which involves a lot of standing around and not a lot of cardio. Either that or spending an hour on my bike trainer in the garage that does not appeal at all when in the mountains.
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@Ozboy, One thing you may want to find out is, are the tracks closest to you have skating lanes. Not all tracks have both, as skating lanes need more space.

The "benefit" of classic is you can pretty much ski anywhere. You can even make your own track in the woods out the back door of your house.

(I'm actually in the reverse situation: what used to be lovely soft snow tracks are now, due to warming temperature, often refrozen icy groves no amount of scale/ski/wax will grip properly. The skating lanes at least have some texture to pushed off of. Plus there're miles and miles of snowmobile lanes I could just skate on. Not as good as prepared lanes but much easier to skate on than classic. Hence my motivation to take up skating)


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Wed 20-11-19 16:56; edited 1 time in total
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abc wrote:

According to Salomon's link, "Skate skiing particularly seems to appeal to fit, athletic people".


Interestingly there is a resurgence of classic at the moment due in part to the emergence of skin skis.

I suspect that link is Salomon marketing borrox to some extent. Classic also appeals to fit, young people.


Photo: Anita Korva

[quote="abc"]
And @Weathercam is right:
Quote:

So you might get frustrated at skaters even with bad technique going past you and admire the fluidity and gracefulness of a good skater and aspire to that, which is exactly where I was after a year or so of classic

I've just started to dabble in skating after 10+ years of classic. I have to say the above statements are quite right.


Anyone who can actually classic ski will be quicker (and more graceful) than someone who has poor or even intermediate skate technique. The difference in speed between the two techniques is not great, going uphill and a classic skier might outpace a skate skier.

abc wrote:

The old advice of "learning classic first because it's easier" applies more to people who never skied before. For most alpine skier who're already familiar with balancing on 2 slippery planks, there's not much point in learning classic first before learning skating.


Classic technique is technically harder than skating - getting a good 'kick' is harder than skating skis forward. Both are as hard as alpine in the technicalities though.

With both techniques you are not balancing on "two slippery planks" but balancing on one slippery, narrow match stick with no edges (see photo above) in shoes which resemble carpet slippers, which is altogether a different kettle of fish.

I think what people are talking about is that it is easier to shuffle around trails like a down and out wino carrying a bottle of blue nun, on classic skis than it is to learn skate skiing but that isn't classic skiing.

I don't want to push Ozboy in any particular direction but things like heel lift to get more upper body power is easier to practice with classic technique (double poling) then transfer to skating. Indeed in our club we get people double polling when skating precisely to improve this kind of technique.

If you go to the nordic trails most of the skate skiers can't skate ski either but use a form of V1 skating with poor timing and/or body position. They use this technique up hill and down dale, generally they are fit athletes who've transitioned over from running or cycling so they can push along at quite a pace, for a while. The American coaches jokingly call such skiers "club offset".

Regarding gear, the skis need to match your weight, it is a bit less important with skate skis (it will just make it harder). Hire by all means but go to a good shop, the places they have at nordic centers generally look at your height and hand you a pair of skis - the skis don't know how tall you are but they do know how much you weigh.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
davidof wrote:

Interestingly there is a resurgence of classic at the moment due in part to the emergence of skin skis.

I will be trying some on (skin) in 10 days time. I'll reserve my opinion till then.

Quote:
Classic technique is technically harder than skating - getting a good 'kick' is harder than skating skis forward.

That's the primary reason I considered classic a "wasteful diversion" for eventually learning to skate.

Learning to get a good "kick" is quite frustrating. Why spend all that time to learn to "stride" efficiently when you can skate?

Quote:
I don't want to push Ozboy in any particular direction but things like heel lift to get more upper body power is easier to practice with classic technique (double poling) then transfer to skating. Indeed in our club we get people double polling when skating precisely to improve this kind of technique.

The things I notice that transfer well from classic to skating is the "glide" phase. Many long time classic skiers tend to be more proficient in extending the glide, which helps considerably even in skating (V2). But there's also a bit of false economy there too. With the slightly higher speed of skating "push", it's easier to learn to GLIDE! Many classic skiers never really got very good at gliding because it's just harder to master at low speed.

Last, I suspect it might be easier for skater to learn to classic than classic skier to learn to skate. But I can't say for sure as I started classic when I was young.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Wed 20-11-19 17:26; edited 1 time in total
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@davidof, I thought skating skis are not that critical on length, except the longer skis glides better but a bit unyielding?

I'm still hiring skating equipment, so haven't explored the differences yet.
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You know it makes sense.
abc wrote:
@davidof, I thought skating skis are not that critical on length, except the longer skis glides better but a bit unyielding?

I'm still hiring skating equipment, so haven't explored the differences yet.


Not as critical but if you are over the weight limit you will have more contact with the snow which means more friction, the skis will tend to dig in when the snow is soft (first bashing after fresh snowfall) and under the weight limit the ski will have less contact and be squirrely (that is, will hunt when gliding or descending and be hard to control). If and when you buy go to a good ski shop and get them to select skis based on your weight. It won't make a huge difference but cross country is like cycling: marginal gains.

BTW I fully respect your choice to turn to skating and there is absolutely no reason Ozboy has to start classic then skating and as I mentioned the trend in the ski schools in France seems to be skating for adults. I was just pointing out that for someone who wants to be a very good cross country skier then both techniques are valid and worth learning.

Wouldn't we all like to be very good skiers, cross country or otherwise, eh? What has stopped me being very good, among other things was the self-awareness to realize I wasn't actually very good.
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@Ozboy, an excellent ambition! We took up skate a few years ago, having both skated on either wheels or ice quite a bit.

1. It is all about technique (not that either of us is near “good”)

2. Prior skate experience helps

3. Skate is more fun in our heads than classic, although we appreciate the appeal of classic.

4. Skate does need prepped trails, tour classic doesn’t. Maybe not so important now, but later?

5. Lessons are essential. Essential. Really essential.

6. Lessons are essential. It is all about technique.

7. When your instructor suggests a 2 hour long first lesson, unless you truly are super fit, decline. Lessons are essential, 2 hours on first go might be fatal.

8. My understanding, having tried some ex-Olympic race skis is that the better the kit, the better and easier. Oh and the skis do need waxed.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@Ozboy, if you're buying gear in advance. Here're a few clothing items that you may not already have:

1) gloves. Your alpine gloves will be too bulky and too hot. Look into cross country specific gloves.

2) a beanie or a headband (or ear muf!) You'll get really hot especially if you're skating. But you do want something on your head on days when it's windy. Or when it's actually snowing, you want something to stop the falling snow melting on your hair.

3) As a cyclist, this you probably already have: a wind-proof but UN-insulated shell!

4) Pants: this ideally should be waterproof. You WILL fall. And you'll get wet if the pants are not waterproof. Again an UN-insulated shell. Alternatively, many prefer a stretchy exercise pants. Just make sure it's synthetic so it dries quickly.

Basically, you're going out for a run, but at cycling speed, often on rainy days. Laughing
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Thanks everyone for all the tips which I value and appreciate greatly and a great way to start the Nordic thread for the upcoming season. I will keep you posted on my progress once I get to the mountains in a month from today.

My conclusions:
1. Probably dive straight into skating
2. Get a few lessons
3. Rent at first before buying hardware
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@Ozboy, and no disrespect to @abc, but as a cyclist, you will have nigh on all the gear you need.

Gloves, just use your winter / autumn / spring long fingered gloves.

Headgear, just use your winter skull cap or buff

As for jacket etc I use my autumn / winter cycling top (not hard shell) great with pockets in the back I can even squeeze a small bottle in.

And as for legs, again I use my autumn-winter tights, you'll only fall a couple of times, and you'll be up pretty quick so will not get wet, I did use my full-on winter bib tights but was too hot.

Dceked out in Assos Cool


I don't really go out when it's snowing but as ever you'll be surprised as to how dry you stay.

For me the issue is sweating like a pig Laughing

Oh and obviously a GPS HR unit to upload to Strava Laughing


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Wed 20-11-19 19:21; edited 1 time in total
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@abc, just clocked your comment "often on rainy days" is that because Chatel is quite near to Morzine Laughing
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Weathercam wrote:
@abc, just clocked your comment "often on rainy days" is that because Chatel is quite near to Morzine Laughing

When you ski while it's snowing, the snow melts on every part of your warm body. It's like cycling on a rainy day.

And even on days when it isn't snowing, the wind may pick up some snow on the ground and throw it on your body.

When I classic, I'm not hot enough to melt the snow on my head. But the few times I skate (or attempting to skate), my body heat melt the snow and, couple with a few falls, I was quite wet!

Quote:
Gloves, just use your winter / autumn / spring long fingered gloves.

I found winter cycling gloves too bulky (and actually too warm). But I guess if you have thin full finger gloves, it might work better.

For the most part, I found most winter cycling clothing too warm. But at the same time, many non-cycling clothing not wind-proof, the wind cuts right through on extended donwhills. Not a problem for the core, because the core part movement is similar between cycling and skiing. But in cycling, the hands don't move much, whilst skiing the hands gets way too hot!


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Wed 20-11-19 19:34; edited 1 time in total
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@abc, if you check out Craft Sportswear on the site https://www.sportpursuit.com/products?bid=663 you'll see how there is so much cross over with cycling & XC, hardly surprising as Craft are a Scandi brand and are big time into XC.

Being wet is never an issue I've had, but like in cycling a strong head-wind can be a bastardo
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abc wrote:
But at the same time, many non-cycling clothing not wind-proof, the wind cuts right through on extended donwhills.


that's your NY state climate, the wind cuts right through you, it's no place for the old (as Shane MacGowan once said). Weathercam is skiing in the sun kissed slopes of Serre Chevalier - 300 days of sun per year. Even in the Northern Alps the climate is pretty benign most of the time, youl could ski in your shorts and t-shirt.

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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@davidof, you're probably right.

I'll find out next week. I'll be at Montana. snowHead

I'll pack a few extra lighter layers.
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Good technique tip in that photo - don't grip your poles too much. Cool
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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davidof wrote:

Anyone who can actually classic ski will be quicker (and more graceful) than someone who has poor or even intermediate skate technique. The difference in speed between the two techniques is not great, going uphill and a classic skier might outpace a skate skier.

That's not really true, or better yet, it depends who we are talking about. I have some 20+ years of xc racing (EC only, never made it to World cup) behind me, and I'm always significantly faster in skating then in classic. You are faster (at same HR) skating then classic, uphill, downhill or on flat. Classic, I mean proper skiing not "walking" uphill is also harder then skating, but I agree it just feels nicer. For me classic is the real skiing and it looks nicer.
People think they know how to ski skating, but 90% of people on xc skis going skating think they know how to ski, yet they look ridiculously bad... and slow Wink I still say classic is easier way to learn and should be technique to start with xc skiing. Classic movement is very similar (pretty much exactly same) as walking, so it's really easy to comprehend. Skating on the other side, no matter what people think, is not. Weight balance is much harder to achieve, proper slide on ski also, and you need some speed to do it properly. All this pretty much makes skating impossible to ski normally for beginners.
Problem with classic was, that you needed to knew something (a lot) about waxing (unless you were in Scandinavia where blue extra conditions were from middle of November till end of April Very Happy), if you wanted to have fun out there. Now you have plenty of good waxless skis that actually work in most conditions, and are still relatively fast, so this "problem" is not existing anymore.
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