Telemark, Alpine & Nordic skiing info

Free-heel skiing
Telemark skiing or telemarking
Alpine skiing or 'downhill' skiing
Nordic skiing
Ski touring & hut-to-hut touring


Nordic or Cross-Country Skiing:


Track skiing is mainly about lightness of travel over undulating ground. It's also known as 'cross-country skiing', 'XC', 'langlauf', 'ski de fond' or 'sci di fondo'.

This uses very light shoes, non-metal edged skis and long poles. Forward propulsion is achieved by using 'grip wax' or a pattern on the central part of the sole of the ski. These allow you to slide forwards but not backwards, and to ski uphill. An appropriate poling action, carefully timed to match the striding rhythm, also helps with forward movement. Skiing is in machine-prepared tracks, usually through beautiful winter landscapes.

Levels can be recreational or up to competition level. Both arms and legs propel the skier. Competing, as seen in the Olympics, is a very technical discipline as well as being one of the most demanding aerobic activities.

Nordic or Cross-country skiing: Skating

'Skating' uses specialised boots and skis and depends on ski edge grip rather than on 'sole of the ski' grip. It is still 'cross-country skiing' or 'XC', etc. but is a specialised form of it.

Skating takes place on a machined trail running alongside cross-country skiing tracks and uses a motion that is very similar to ice-skating but with poles to aid propulsion.

Note: both track skiing and skating are very low impact, aerobic activities, ideal for those with bad knees. It is possible to ski and take part in races (fun or more serious) during the summer by using roller skis.

Cross-country skiing: Biathalon

The Biathalon is a competitive form of Nordic skiing race. Only skating is allowed. It involves target shooting and time penalties for missed shots.

In biathalon, fitness and fine motor control are phenomenal … imagine running three miles then immediately standing still enough to hit a small target! And then doing it all again, and again, in longer races!

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Skate skiing on tracks

Skate skiing.
Photo: Tracks & Trails

Skiing the biathalon

Biathalon skier.
Photo: Tracks & Trails