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Six ways to take your cross-country skiing to another level this winter

Whether you’re an experienced cross-country skier or you’re just getting into it (like me), this fun, easy-to-pick-up winter activity can be enjoyed in a couple of unique ways. 

As someone who started with alpine skiing (well, actually snowboarding), the closure of ski resorts in the first year of the pandemic ignited my love for cross-country skiing (XC skiing for short). I had tried XC ski a few times, but I would spend my snow days on the slopes.

Winter is my favourite season, so it wasn’t long before I invested in my first set of XC skis, unlocking another way to enjoy the snow! And I never realized just how much I would unlock. Here are six cross-country variations and ideas to take your skis beyond local trails.

1. Try All The Different Styles

There are three main types: classic, skate, and backcountry/touring. While classic is the easiest to pick up, skate style is for the folks who want a challenge and a more intense workout on groomed trails (you can still get a pretty decent workout with classic style). 

There are benefits to trying classic and skate style, the two main ways to propel yourself along cross-country trails. 

2. Biathlon

Yes, you can combine cross-country skiing (skate-style specifically) with shooting a rifle, just like in the Olympics! 
Several places offer introductory biathlon programs like this Ontario spot. Read about my first biathlon experience here.  


3. Skijoring 

Hit the snow-covered trails with skis and your pup! Ideally, the skier should have intermediate skiing experience and the dog with basic commands and recall.  

4. Try a loppet (a ski race or event)

Originated in Europe, the term loppet refers to a large gathering of people skiing together. Today, there are loppets that invite beginners and experienced skiers looking to cover marathon distances! The largest in Canada is the Gatineau Loppet, and this year the event is offering discovery waves so those new to the sport can experience the long distances.

Not ready to commit to a long-distance cross-country race? Check out winter relay events such as the Beaver Freezer Marathon in Ontario that allow fat bikes and running. 

5. Combine with Winter Camping / Glamping 

Bring your XC skis (and maybe even snowshoes) along on your next winter camping adventure. Oh, and winter camping doesn’t mean roughing it in a tent — you can find heated yurts or cozy cabins located along groomed or wild ski trails. 

6. Night Ski

Glide along the snowy trails and under the stars! Some resorts offer this fun nighttime XC ski experience. Don’t forget your favourite headlamp! 

Show us how you get out there with your cross-country skis on Instagram @GetOutThereMagazine #getoutthere. Where will you take your cross-country skis? 

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