Cross-Country Ski Tips

Unlike the rush of downhill skiing, cross-country skiing is less dangerous, simple to learn and fun for the whole family. It is hiking in snow country with skis. There are ski resorts on maintained trails, and some skiers take their own camping gear and camp along the trails. Cross-country skiing is also an Olympic sport that is highly competitive and has many variations. Whether racing or touring, it is important to have the proper equipment and be prepared for the trail.

Trail Map

Make sure to carry a map and compass of the trail or route and leave a copy of where you will be skiing with a friend or relative in case something happens. If skiing in the backcountry, get acquainted with the local avalanche safety procedures.

Carry a Backpack

Carry plenty of fluids and snacks for the long trail. These can be packed into a backpack along with ski wax, first aid kit, extra clothing and emergency repair equipment.


Carry extra wax for long ski trips. For waxless skis, applying wax helps reduce clumping of wet snow. There are universal waxes that can be rubbed on or sprayed onto skis. This is quick and easy and works in most snow conditions.

Proper Clothing

Dress in layers so that as the weather warms up, clothing can be shed. Wearing fabrics that use lightweight wicking draws the perspiration from the skin. Fleece is warm and works as a second layer with a waterproof outer shell. Bulky parkas aren’t suited to cross-country skiing, as they constrict movement and generate excessive body heat, according to the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CRSAA).

Sun Block

Always wear sun block even on cloudy days. The rays of the sun are amplified by the reflection off the snow and can cause sunburn.


Reflected sunlight and glare from the snow can cause snow blindness. Always protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses.

Getting Up From a Fall

Get the skis parallel to each other by lying back and kicking the feet into the air. Make sure the skis are across the fall line, and get your body over the skis; then kneel (the marriage proposal position) and stand using the poles for stability if necessary. This is the method recommended by XCSki World’s trainers.

About this Author

Caroline Thompson has been a professional photojournalist since 1999. She combines writing and photography in her stories. Thompson’s work has appeared in the “Sacramento Bee,” “People Magazine,” “Newsweek” and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University Hayward (CSUH) and a personal trainer certification from the Health and Fitness Institute out of CSUH.