First steps to becoming a cross-country skier

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First steps to becoming a cross-country skier

Cross-country skiing is a lifelong sport that gets participants outdoors amongst nature without focusing on the speed and adrenaline of downhill. Recreation or high performance, skier enjoyment is at the heart of every level.

But before kids take on the long distances and all-out sprints of cross-country skiing, a ski playground is the perfect location to learn to ski naturally. Cross-Country Canada (CCC) has created skill development programs  for children that focus on fun and follow the framework of Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development.

The basics of learning to ski are:

  • Rent or purchase boots that fit properly. Like running shoes, the better the fit, the better control a person will have. Oversized mittens, jackets, pants, or goggles are fine, but oversized boots and helmet are not.
  • Choose a soft snow day. Falling on a hard, icy trails is never fun.
  • Choose a sunny day to learn! Nobody has fun skiing in a blizzard.

As children develop the fundamental skills for skiing, cross-country can be introduced through games and ski playgrounds. “The objective is for children to learn basic cross-country ski skills (both classic and skating) and to instill a lifelong interest in the sport, thereby enhancing their quality of life and health,” as stated in the Jackrabbit Program by CCC.

Another great way for kids to practice cross-country technique (especially in the summer!) is to try rollerskiing. This fun and unique sport complements cross-country and is great for kids ages nine and older who want to develop as a skier.

The skills they’ll need

  • Skiing skills such as maintaining balance, moving with speed and agility, flexing and extending legs, and coordinating the pole plant are fundamental.
  • Running: quick feet and legs are important in sprint events, while endurance is necessary for longer distances. Also, technical skills like diagonal stride require a jogging-like action.
  • Falling and rising: learning to get up after a fall, without using poles, is essential.
  • Gliding: skating and running on ice help a child feel comfortable when sliding on snow.
  • Turning: cross-country skills such as kick turn, snowplow turn, step turn and skate turn help a skier navigate a course.

Other sports that can help develop better skiers include:

  • Skating, cycling, running, climbing, rollerblading, and skateboarding

Activities your child can do now

Here are some fun activities your child can do to develop the movement skills that will help them become better skiers:

  • Dodge ball (develops agility and speed)
  • Jump rope (develops balance, coordination and rhythm)
  • River leap (develops coordination, rhythm and timing)

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