How to Select Cross-country Skis

How to Select Cross-country Skis
Cross-country skiing lets you enjoy the outdoors almost anywhere there's snow, whether you want to explore parks, trails and the back country or stick to machine-groomed paths at ski centers. Glide quietly through peaceful woods or feel the excitement of fast-paced skating on skis. But where and how you ski should affect your choice of equipment. Talk about your preferences with experts at specialty stores or touring centers to find skis that are right for you. These guidelines will help.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to Select Cross-country Skis

Step 1
Decide how you plan to use your skis: Will you ski primarily on groomed tracks or venture onto fresh, deep snow? Are you looking for the performance and speed of waxable skis or the convenience and adaptability to changing conditions of waxless skis? Do you prefer the smooth, traditional kick-and-glide technique or outward-angled skate skiing on wide tracks?
Step 2
Choose length of ski based on your height, weight and ski manufacturer's guidelines. The old rule of thumb that skis should reach up to the wrist of your up-stretched arm doesn't always apply. Skate skis are generally about 10 cm shorter than classic skis measured for the same user. Your weight will affect how a ski's camber, its inward arch, allows the middle section to grip during strides and how well it flexes for gliding.
Step 3
Select ski width based on the type of terrain where you plan to ski. Recreational touring on groomed trails requires light, narrow skis for swift gliding, while heavier and wider skis provide better support on fresh or variable snow.
Step 4
Find boots that are comfortable and lightweight, like running shoes, for classic kick-and-glide skiing. Skate boots are stiffer and provide more ankle support. You can also find combination, or "combi," boots that offer a mid-range of flexibility and support.
Step 5
Have your retailer match the binding to your boots and skis. Modern bindings use a clip-in New Nordic Norm or Salomon system, instead of the old three-pin system.
Step 6
Measure classic ski-pole length by finding a pole that reaches your armpit. Poles for skate skiing are longer and should reach your chin. For back-country skiing, you can buy telescoping poles that can be adjusted for length based on terrain.
Step 7
Choose a small ski-pole basket for efficiency on groomed or hard-packed trails. Larger baskets offer more stability and won't sink into the snow when you're off-trail.

Tips & Warnings

 
Try out different skis before you buy. Many retailers and ski centers rent cross-country skis. You can apply all-purpose wax to waxless skis to reduce moisture buildup and clumping. Check with your retailer for instructions.
 
Try out different skis before you buy. Many retailers and ski centers rent cross-country skis.
 
You can apply all-purpose wax to waxless skis to reduce moisture buildup and clumping. Check with your retailer for instructions.

Article Written By Susan Spencer

Since 2000, Susan Spencer has contributed to the "Worcester Telegram & Gazette," "Cape Cod Life," "Worcester Living," "Sister 2 Sister," CapeCodToday.com and other publications. She specializes in health, education, culture and lifestyle, the outdoors/environment, and regional travel. She has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.S. from Harvard School of Public Health.

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