[Editor Note: Roger Lohr is SeniorsSkiing.com’s Nordic Editor and publisher of XCSkiResorts.com]

The Older I Get, The More I Love Cross Country Skiing.

Roger Lohr in the grooves. Credit: XCSkiResorts.com

I love the sensation of gliding on the snow through the forest, being outdoors in nature. I can smell the fragrance of the trees. I can hear the bubbling brook and the sound of a bird in the distance, or the screech of my ski bases on the snow.

Groomed trails make it so easy to pass through the woods without worrying about the snow condition or getting tripped up by a hidden branch. But there is also something ethereal about skiing between the trees backcountry down the hill avoiding obstacles and picking my way to the destination. Even on a local trail network, being out in the forest seems like in the words of author Anders Morley (This Land of Snow), where wilderness and civilization meet to negotiate their differences. Even if you can hear cars on a nearby road, that negotiation allows a meditative state in the here and now.

Most skiers are encouraged to go skiing by their family or friends, or they personally always wanted to do it. Getting outdoors is among the list of reasons for people getting into XC skiing, and exercise is most likely an important reason for people to try it. The well-being factor goes beyond exercise as psychological and emotional benefits may very well be the cross beams of XC skiing that buttress the soul.

I love XC skiing in my light jacket and pants over a lightweight base layer, taking my small backpack with all my necessities. Barriers to XC skiing are low. For example, you can XC ski where ever there is snow so it is very accessible in parks and on local trails. While the sport admittedly takes time and practice to master, XC skiing is easy to do at beginner levels. It is also rather inexpensive compared to many other recreational activities. Additionally, people can ski at their own pace and go to a local park to get some outdoor exercise or enjoy the winter scenery.

On the other hand, there are issues that make XC skiing a challenge to people who’ve not tried it. Beginning XC is easy, but if you want to get proficient you have to work at it. Proficiency to higher levels only comes with time, experience, and practice. Specific equipment is important for the different types of XC skiing such as on track, off track, beginner, backcountry with heavy or light weight gear, skating, etc. Struggling on skating skis up a hill exemplifies the need for learning the right technique, skiing on proper equipment, and practice. The different segments of XC skiing may be perplexing to some people. Another factor is that experienced skiers are a tight-knit group, and it maybe a little while before the uninitiated feel accepted.

Why people quit cross country skiing is similar to why people quit any activity. People get tired of traveling or take the time to get to the trails or ski area. Time commitment can be an issue to some. Responsibilities such as work or family are also a significant reason for people deciding to reduce or eliminate time for skiing.

There are few injuries suffered by XC skiers, well, beyond being sore on the next morning because of muscles that are unaccustomed to being used. For XC skiing, proficiency is a factor when learning to glide, go uphill without backsliding, or control the skis on steep downhills.

The reasons why people start or quit skiing have been understood for decades and developing programs and incentives to address concerns is a great challenge for the snow sports industry. But personally I begin longing for the snow as spring time flourishes and am exultant the next time the ground is covered come November or December. Valhalla.


  1. I love cross country skiing, too. We had a cottage in northern Wisconsin for 25 years and we would go there between Christmas & New Years. We cross country skied through the woods and on the lake. The solitude was wonderful. One year, I visited our son in SLC who is a n expert backcountry skier. However, his son did not like downhill skiing so we went to the Uintas to cross country ski. I t was great until we hit some moderately sized hills. I thought I knew all about stopping on Xcountry skis – Not true!!! I could not stop . In fact on the lAst hill I took off my skiis to get safely down. A learning experience to be sure!!!

  2. Is a great sport in so many ways. Xcountry sking promotes a healthy lifestyle and like you said few injuries. But good equipment, it will last for years. Low carbon footprint and you can ski with your dogs if the trails allow.
    Need to learn about snow, humidity, temperature and the art and science of waxing the ski base. Truly a great sport for all ages.

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