When most people hear the word “ski,” they automatically think downhill. But there is another type of skiing that is cheaper (i.e., free) and can be done on your own property – if it is flat and large enough – or at a nearby field or town or state park. It’s called cross-country skiing, part of the Nordic skiing sport family.
Cross-country is a form of ski touring in which participants propel themselves across snow-covered terrain using skis and poles. As a sport, it is one of the most difficult endurance sports, as its motions use every major muscle group and it (along with running, rowing and swimming) is one of the sports that burn the most calories per hour in execution.
The skis are long and narrow, to distribute the weight of the skier and allow the skier to move quickly. Typical ski dimensions are two metres in length, about five centimetres in width and one to four centimetres in thickness at different stations along the length of the ski. Depending on the ski design and purpose, they are fitted to the skier based on height and weight. The toe of the skier’s footwear is attached to the ski with a binding, while the heel remains free. Like alpine skiing, cross-country skiers carry two poles for steadiness and propulsion.
Scott and Will Maxwell, owners of Outdoor Sports Center, 80 Danbury Road in Wilton, have recommended the following locations for both cross-country skiing as well as snowshoeing.
• Collis P. Huntington State Park, Redding, Newtown and Bethel, (Will’s personal favorite!)
• Lucius Pond Ordway/Devil’s Den Preserve, Weston and Redding,
• Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Pound Ridge, N.Y.
• Hurd State Park, East Hampton,
• Chatfield Hollow State Park, Killingworth
• Gay City State Park, Hebron (Highly recommended by snowshoe expert Parker Weintz.)
• American Legion and People’s State Forest, Barkhamsted (Highly recommended by Outdoor Sports cross-country ski expert Ed Bikowski.)
• Web Mountain Town Park, Monroe
Cross-country skiing is also allowed in Waveny Park in New Canaan. Call your local recreation department to see if your town park(s) are accessible for cross-country.
To learn more about cross country skiing and snowshoeing – and to rent or purchase the equipment needed to participate in the sports – call or visit Outdoor Sports, at 203-762-8797 or OutdoorSports.com.