Try cross country skiing for winter fun

Looking for a great winter outdoor activity? Try cross country skiing for exercise, excitement and fun!

Try cross country skiing for winter fun

Winter is the perfect time to strap on some skis and head outside for an activity that is exciting, fun and connects you to the outdoors. Cross country skiing is an activity that can be enjoyed by just about anyone, young and old alike. Better yet, make it a family affair and get the adults out there with the kids!

Cross country skiing is a refreshing activity that is a great way to get youth outside and active. Take some time with youth to not only ski, but also take notice of the surrounding environment. Look for signs of wildlife, tracks in the snow, bird sounds, animal homes and any scat droppings. Take notice of different trees, shrubs and leaves that refused to drop. Listen to the wind, popping of trees, the “swoosh” of skis and the crunch of dry snow underneath.

Cross country skiing is an activity that can be learned quickly and allows for a wide range of abilities. You can ski as fast or as slow as you want to go. Traditional or classic cross country skiing is the most common and preferred method by most. It can be done most anywhere, including flat surfaces, gentle hills or rugged terrain. Skate skiing requires specialized equipment and practice to master the technique required. It is a faster method that exerts more energy and also requires a wider, groomed surface to ski effectively.

The cost for a new ski package is relatively inexpensive. February and March often sees many shops offering clearance sales to move their in-stock merchandise. Used skis, boots and poles can be found at numerous thrift stores, garage sales and online sites at reduced costs. Skis can be waxless, which requires no wax treatments to match snow conditions, or waxable, which requires various wax applications to match snow temperatures. These choices are personal preference; waxable skis are generally faster and waxless skis are less maintenance. Try both to see which one you prefer.

Proper dressing is important. Since you are active you will stay warm, so don’t overdress to where you feel bulky and sweat a lot. Avoid cotton clothing as it will absorb moisture and make you cold. Nylon outerwear is best to keep snow off you and from penetrating your clothing which will make you cold. A hat and gloves or mittens are essential.

Many communities have managed cross country ski trails at nature centers, golf courses and parks. The National Forests and State Forests also provide managed cross country ski trails for use. Most groomed trail systems utilize a traditional/classical groomed trail and some provide a groomed skate surface as well. There may be a small fee or donation associated with these. You always have the option of blazing your own trail and then using it regularly to keep it maintained. This allows you the flexibility to go close to home which may be useful for younger children.

Falling down is part of the game! Don’t be discouraged and enjoy the ups and downs that come with learning a new sport or activity. Thomas Edison once said, “The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.” Skiing is no different. The more you go the better it will feel and the easier it becomes. Make it a special experience for you and youth to enjoy winter together. Exercise, outdoors and time together are such a great mix!

Michigan State University Extension offers outdoor skills through the 4-H Outdoor Adventure Challenge program and science involvement with 4-H Science: Asking Questions and Discovering Answers. For more information, contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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