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It’s probably fair to say that, in general, if you love walking, you will enjoy cross-country skiing too. There are certainly plenty of reasons why you should try it. In fact, since you usually need only two or three short lessons to pick up the basics and no special equipment (you can ski in pretty much the same sort of clothing you would wear to walk in, and you hire special lightweight – and very comfortable! – shoes with your skis), there really is no excuse not to try it if you are half tempted.
The gliding stride does not take long to master at all, and steering is easy as you ski in specially-cut ‘tramlines’. The skis clip to the toe only, making your movements free and easy – you just lean into the stride and lift your heel, then glide away. And you needn’t worry about the risk of injury, either. Cross-country skiing is a very safe sport – serious injuries are extremely rare – which makes it suitable for people of any age. Indeed, many people switch to cross-country skiing after they have hung up their downhill skis for the last time.
Once you are ready to head off by yourself and explore the trails (start with the easy blue and green itineraries while your confidence grows), the many pleasures of cross-country skiing soon become clear and will hopefully have you completely hooked. Probably the greatest advantage of cross-country skiing over downhill skiing is the fact that you are able to appreciate the scenery and the beautiful effects of the soft winter light on the snow as you ski. What is more, as it is a quiet sport – the skis just make a low whooshing noise on the snow – you often spot lots of wildlife, too. In Scandinavia, in fact, it’s not that unusual to come within a few metres of an elk. Rather than continually covering the same ground, you can make real excursions, too, setting a certain village as your destination and then catching an inexpensive train or taxi back. The fact that many trails are dotted with skiers’ huts and cafés means that you are rarely short of sustenance, or you can carry a picnic with you in a small rucksack.
Finally, there exists a real camaraderie between skiers. Most people wouldn’t dream of speaking to fellow skiers on a downhill piste (it’s highly impractical for a start!), but on cross-country trails the people you pass will always greet you, and often stop to chat, too. And if all that weren’t enough, you have the added satisfaction of knowing you are practising one of the best possible forms of aerobic exercise.
If you do decide to give it a go, it is important to choose the right village; though all the villages in our selection are quiet, enabling you to learn at your own pace, not all of them are suitable for beginners. Villages which have good ski schools with English-speaking instructors and easy access to the beginners’ trails are: Ylläs, Geilo, Sjusjøen, Pertisau, Weidach, Ramsau, Kandersteg and Blitzingen.
If you would prefer to learn in a small group of other Inntravel guests, we offer special Cross-Country Try It Out Weeks during the quietest periods of the season, which include ski hire and tuition.
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and can also pre-book ski hire for you. (Use of the cross-country domains at most of the villages listed above is free, and in cases where it is not, we include a ski pass in the price of our pre-bookable ski packages.)
Travelling from outside the UK?
To give you a good idea of how we can tailor our trips to your individual requirements, take a look at the section of the website specifically devoted to travellers from outside the UK.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to get the low-down on Inntravel holidays from someone who has first-hand experience, you can email Phil Wise. Based in California, Phil has taken many trips with us over the years, and will be happy to give you general information about travelling to Europe and the overall Inntravel holiday experience from an American perspective.