Why everyone in MN should XC Ski

Phot by by Szymon NitkaOne of my favorite ways to enjoy living in the Twin Cities in winter is that I’ve taken up cross-country skiing.  Cross-country skiing in Minnesota is so great because there are an abundance of trails.  It’s incredibly peaceful and relaxing to get out and be with nature  without having to drive more than a couple blocks from home (many public golf courses, parks and lakes have trails).   The total body workout is great as well.  There is still a lot of winter left and now is the time to consider taking up the sport because ski gear is starting to go on clearance.

If you’re not yet persuaded, here’s my response to a couple points I anticipate you might make.

  • But I have no idea how to cross-country ski.  It’s intuitive!  Once you’re strapped in and on the trail you simply alternate lunging one leg forward and then the other with the assistance of poles to move forward.   If you’re really nervous about it, free classes are frequently offered at REI.
  • Isn’t skiing notoriously expensive?  Cross-country skiing is much less expensive than downhill skiing.  The boots, the skis and the passes are all a lot less in comparison.   For example, you can typically buy a season park pass to ski on groomed trails all around the Twin Cities for about $35.  If you take advantage of sales, you can grab some brand new skis, bindings, poles and boots for around $250.
  • Don’t skis require a lot of maintenance? Competitive skiers will wax their skis so that they are slippery and slide over the snow with less friction.  If you are not competitive and don’t care so much about shaving off seconds, you do not have to wax your skis.
  • It sounds fun and all but I’m not sure I would ski enough to make it worth the investment of buying skis.  Because cross-country skiing is low impact and you can go at your own pace, it is truly a lifetime sport.  If you only go skiing 4-5 times a year, you can still get a lot of value out of your gear over the years.
  • It’s freezing outside and why would I want to exercise in the cold? Because skiing is a great workout, you actually need to worry about getting too warm more than getting too cold.  Everything from your fingers to your toes is working when you cross-country ski and that builds up heat.  Your greatest challenge for staying warm when it’s very cold outside is to reduce the amount of exposed skin.  Consider a face mask and, perhaps, ski goggles for when it’s below zero or there is a bit of wind.
  • I am terrified of going down hills on skis. Most xc ski trails, especially in Minnesota, are very flat. If you really do not want any slope at all, just head to a frozen lake!
  • What if I fall over? Odds are you will be going under 2 mph and will simply topple over with nothing but a bruised ego. You’ll just have to dust the snow off and get back up.
  • I have no idea what equipment to buy. Your friendly retailer will be able to assist you.  Local stores like REI and Hoigaards will have knowledgeable staff to help you find the right fit, size and performance level for you.

Feel free to message me if you have any questions but I am no expert.  One major point of this post is that you don’t need any special skills or knowledge to participate in cross-country skiing.