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News & Tips White season

Cross Country Skiing Tips For Beginners

September 8th, 2020
We’re here to give you a few pointers on how to get started

Note: The images in the article were taken prior to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions for all of Victoria. At present, all Victorians are required to wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres, and follow all personal hygiene requirements.

Cross-Country skiing or Nordic skiing, is an incredible way to discover the overwhelming beauty of the Victorian Alps. Although it may seem a little daunting in the beginning, in time you will learn to love the nature of this sport.

It allows you to view the mountains in a whole new light, as you’re not confined to established trails only. Instead, you have access to an array of tracks that are often only accessible by cross-country skiers.

Getting started, however, is often the hardest part. It’s not likely that you’ll experience a sport that’s going to give you the knowledge or skillset that you need to master cross-country skiing right from the beginning. Luckily for you, we’re here to give you a few pointers on how to get started. So let’s dive in.

Find the right mountain to start out on

Lake Mountain has some of Australia’s best cross-country skiing with over 35 kilometres of well signposted and groomed trails, perfect for any beginner to start out on. They have highly qualified instructors available at Lake Mountain that offer lessons for beginners through to advanced. So if you’re wanting to get moving on cross-country skis we suggest taking a lesson, to learn the basics of stopping, turning and moving along some of the easier ski trails with confidence.

Groomed trails are often the best choice when you’re just starting out, compared to adventuring off track. This is because when you’re just starting out, the last thing you want is to have added stresses thrown at you, such as trying to navigate bumpy, uneven terrain.

Cross country skier holding their poles

What To wear cross country skiing

Choosing the right clothing for your first trip to the snow can be a tricky task. Breathable, lightweight sportswear is often the best choice when it comes to cross-country skiing. Being a highly active sport you’re likely to build up a sweat quickly as it requires you to be on the move at all times.

Due to this, the last thing you want is heavy-duty clothing or materials (like cotton) that is only going to absorb moisture.

Finding the right pair of gloves is essential in keeping your hands warm, and allowing you to have a better grip on your poles. For children, it’s best to start off without ski poles until they’ve learnt the basics of stopping. Of course, a beanie and underlayers are non-negotiables as well.

Also, you may want to consider easy to access pockets to store tasty snacks such as muesli bars to give you extra energy throughout the day! Always work with many thin layers of clothing which you can remove or add as the temperature changes. Also remember the sunglasses, even on cloudy days, the glare off of the snow can be extremely bright.

Choosing the right cross-country skiing equipment

To ensure you have the best experience possible, the correct equipment will make your day more enjoyable, and easier to learn the basics of cross-country skiing.

However, if you’re just starting out and you’re not completely sure cross-country skiing is right for you, then pop into the resorts rentals department and have a chat to one of the staff who will give the best advice on which clothing you could hire and the correct ski equipment.

Luckily enough, cross-country skiing doesn’t require a vast amount of equipment to get started, or to keep going in fact. However, it’s important that the ski boots have a nice firm fit, skis are the correct length, ski poles have good fitting straps, and are also the correct length, this will ensure you have the best possible experience. You can always pop back into the rentals department and swap your boots for a different size, we are always there to help.

Have a talk also to one of the ski instructors, before you decide, all the instructors at Lake Mountain can answer any of your questions you may have about cross-country skiing.

two cross-country skiers moving forward on the snow

Classic or skating technique

Cross-country skis are long, narrow and relatively lightweight, fairly different to ‘’alpine” skis. However, the real difference between the two is the function in which your ski boot fits to the ski. Rather than clipping in your toe and heel to the ski binding, (like you do for alpine), cross-country ski boots are attached into place by just the toe area of the boot. This makes it possible to glide along the ski trails, a little like sliding your feet along a slippery floor. And make for getting up from a fall a whole lot easier, just like standing from sitting on the floor at home.

The other technique is skating, using similar boots as for classic skiing, but a little stiffer and more support around the angle. This technique is very similar to ice skating or roller blading, and a little hard to master than the classic skiing technique, but no reason not to give it a go for the first time.

Choosing a cross-country style that best suits you depends on a multitude of factors, such as the type of experience you’re wanting to have and the level of skiing knowledge and ability that you have.

For beginners, we suggest starting with the classic cross-country skiing style. This is the most traditional form of skiing, popular due to the movement having a more natural feel that’s almost as fluid as walking (almost).

Classic skis run parallel to each other, moving forward by shifting your weight onto one ski, pushing down and back to form a gliding (like) movement that pushes you through the snow. This is often aided by the use of polls as well to push you along with more force (great for uphill and increasing speed).

When your skillset improves and you’re looking to move on to a more advanced style, there’s a few different types for you to consider, such as Skating & Backcountry skiing.

Learning to stop on Cross-country Skis

Similar to traditional alpine skiing, the snowplough is the easiest and quickest technique to master when you’re wanting to come to a stop or turn. The Snowplough (or Pizza as it’s commonly named) consists of angling your skis inwards to create a V formation with your skis. Once this is mastered, then moving onto the more advanced parallel stop and turn technique. For now, learning the pizza technique will work perfectly!

If you’re a beginner cross country skier then our little mountain is the perfect spot to receive lessons.  Our cross-country ski teachers are fully qualified and highly experienced, so whether you want an hour-long beginners’ group lesson to learn the basics or a one-on-one cross country ski coaching session to master your technique we have you covered – just be sure to book!

Need another reason to get into cross-country skiing? Not only is it fun, but cross-country skiing has many health benefits.

We hope to see you soon!

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Preparing for a big day

Dress for a change in the weather

The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Always bring a warm layer and something waterproof. In the warmer months, the mountains can be a great escape from the heat. Lake Mountain Alpine Resort can be 10 degrees cooler than Marysville.

Pack some essentials

There is plenty to keep you and your family entertained on our little mountain. It is always a great idea to pack some essentials for your day like water, sunscreen, and snacks. Please check our website for the bistro opening hours.

Make a plan

When visiting any alpine resort in Victoria, it's always a great idea to think ahead and be prepared for any conditions that may arise during your visit. Check the weather for the area you are visiting and check the fire danger rating for the place you are going to be driving through and exploring. https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/total-fire-bans-and-ratings

Enjoy your journey

There is plenty to see and do on your way to and from our Little Mountain and so much in our area to explore. Check out the town of Marysville. This is the last town before you arrive at Lake Mountain Alpine Resort. Alexandra and Eildon are also great to visit if you have a bit more time to adventure.