Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing, often referred to a XC skiing, is a popular winter sport in regions with large expanse of snow as in Canada and countries in Northern Europe as well as in the United States. Cross country skiing belongs to the Nordic type skiing, which is a group of skiing techniques wherein the ski used has only the toe of the boot attached to the ski and the heel is free to move. Ski jumping is another Nordic skiing sport.
There are several cross country skiing techniques, the major ones are the Classical technique, Skating technique, and Telemark technique. The Classical technique, involves the conventional diagonal skiing strides wherein the skis are parallel to one another. In the Skating technique, skiers move just as they would in ice skating. By kicking or gliding, the skier will be able to keep his momentum and glide faster. This technique is only effective if the snow is compact and smooth. Telemark cross country skiing is simply skiing downhill but unlike the popular Downhill Skiing sport, this technique makes use of boots that allow free movement of the heels. Thus, telemark skiers are also known as free-heelers.
Cross country skiing is also a recreational activity for many and is simply just like any ordinary hiking or trekking activity only in snowy trails and wearing skis. The distance varies depending on the skiers. Some go Cross country skiing for long periods and camp out just like mountain hikers while others choose shorter trips.
People have been cross country skiing since prehistoric times in European countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and other Fennoscandian regions. Originally, cross country skiing is simply a means of transportation for people including hunters in these snowy regions. Cross country skiing is also how explorers and armies of the Nordic countries travel during winter. In North America, natives used snowshoes instead of skis to move about deep snow in winter. Two emigrants from Norway, Snowshoe Thompson and Jackrabbit Johannsen, brought the sport of cross country skiing to North America.
Traditional cross country skiing equipment was made of natural materials. For instance, skis were made of wood, ski bindings were made of wood-based threads, poles were made of bamboo and hand straps and footwear were made of leather. Today, ski equipment is made of various materials. The type of equipment that skiers use depends on the cross country skiing technique they will execute. For instance, the classical technique requires the use of long and thin skis while shorter skis are used for the skating technique. While longer poles are ideal for the skating technique, tele skiers abandon the use of poles altogether.