In the Corner Brook area, it seems to have been snowing nonstop since Christmas Day and cross-country skiers have been hitting the trails in many parts of western Newfoundland.
Cross-country skiing is a great way to work off the extra pounds gained over the Christmas holidays since it conditions both legs and arms, and is also a good way to get aerobic exercise. Although you can cross-country ski just about anywhere there is snow, joining a community-based cross-country ski club is a great introduction to the sport.
Cross Country Newfoundland and Labrador is the umbrella group for cross-country skiing. There are 18 clubs spread across the province and many have well-groomed tracks for both classic and skate skiing, as well as designated snowshoe trails. Most have clubhouses which offer food and a chance to warm up, rest and relax.
A number of ski clubs are located in western Newfoundland where there is usually consistent snow. Over the years we have visited most of these clubs which are located in Stephenville, Corner Brook, Pasadena, Deep Cove, Plum Point, St. Anthony and St. Lunaire-Griquet. There are also several cross-country ski facilities in central and eastern Newfoundland as well as Labrador.
Cross Country Newfoundland and Labrador’s website, www.crosscountrynl.com, has lots of information and links to these clubs and is a great resource for anyone planning a winter ski trip in the province. It also hosts a variety of races and loppets, and the website has a detailed event schedule.
Winter is a great time to see many parts of the province under a snowy blanket and there is no better way to explore than on skis.
If you are new to cross-country skiing, we usually recommend learning the classic style first since it is easier to learn than skate skiing.
Classic skiing refers to the traditional style where skiers move arms and legs in an alternating action. The diagonal stride is the bread-and-butter technique for classic skiing and is the basic technique for travelling across the flats and uphills. It really speeds the learning curve to ski at a club where they have tracks set especially for classic skiing. Simply put your skis in the grooved track and stride along the snowy trail.
Once skiers have developed an efficient diagonal stride and can balance well on one ski at a time, they are ready to try skate skiing.
Skating is also best done at a cross-country ski facility since you want the trail to be wide and well-packed. It is almost impossible to learn to skate in 20 centimetres of fresh snow on a golf course.
Skate skiing is more demanding than classic skiing since the skis are slippery and you can move forward only by pushing off an edged ski and using your poles. Easier said than done.
Skate skiing is definitely faster than classic skiing, but it is also more tiring. It is a good idea to take a lesson in either skating or classic skiing so that you can ski more efficiently.
See you on the trails.
Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached