How Nordic Skiers Prep for Cross-Country Skiing

Veteran cross-country skiers know, making skate or classic laps along an expertly groomed track can be one of winter’s greatest pleasures. It’s a fantastic workout, a great way to get out into nature during the winter and—no offense to Utah’s mountain resorts—much easier on your wallet than alpine skiing. Think you might be interested in giving this all-ages sport a go? Following are a few ways both newbies and experienced Nordic skiers can prep for the coming skinny-skiing season.

Getting Fit

“In cross-country skiing, and almost every other sport, the core is super important,” says Laurie Humbert, a member of the 1994 U.S. Biathlon team, Nordic ski coach and co-lead of The Utah Nordic Alliance’s (TUNA) adult dryland training sessions. “The action of all the distal muscles (muscles in your limbs) originate from your core.” And by core, Humbert is talking about more than your abs. “The core runs from the bottom of your neck to your hips, front and back.” 

Specific exercises Humbert recommends to strengthen your midsection include…

Planks—sustaining the top of a
pushup position. Try adding leg circles and doing side planks as well.

Pilates 100s—lifting your shoulders
and legs off the ground while
moving your arms up and down
with your breath.

Super-mans—lifting and holding
your arms and legs off the ground
from a prone position.

Bridge poses—using your feet to
lift your lower body off the ground
while lying on your back.

Though cross-country skiing is a practice in simultaneous arm-and-leg action, most of the activity’s power comes from the legs. Get your lower half in ski-shape by doing…

Lunges and walking lunges—
to both strengthen the quads and open the hip flexors.

Lateral exercises—like side lunges
and side shuffles.

Ski bounding—energetic, continuous leaping up a grassy hill, with or without ski poles.

In addition to leading fall dryland sessions, Humbert stays fit throughout the winter by leading weekly on-snow workouts at Mountain Dell. Visit for details and to register.

Northern Utah Nordic Centers

  • Big Mountain Pass Road (S.R. 65), Parley’s Canyon, 5 km groomed two to here times per week by TUNA, free admission, no dogs,
  • Jeremy Ranch Nordic Center, Park City, rentals and private lessons, day pass required, no dogs,
  • Mountain Dell, Parley’s Canyon, 10 km groomed daily by TUNA, pay for a day pass at the fee post or via Venmo or Paypal, no dogs,
  • North Fork Park, Weber County, 20 to 30 km of grooming for classic and skate skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking by Ogden Nordic, lessons, day pas required, leashed dogs allowed,
  • Round Valley, Park City, 25 km of multiuse track, open to skiers, snowbikes, hikers, and off-leash dogs, free admission,
  • Solitude Mountain Resort Nordic Center, 20 km groomed track, lessons, rentals, full-day or half-day pass required, no dogs,
  • Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, Midway, 30 km groomed track, lessons, rentals, biathlon programs, no dogs,
  • Spruces Campground, in Big Cottonwood Canyon, 5 km track groomed several times per week by the U.S. Forest Service, free admission, no dogs.
  • Sundance Resort Nordic Center, Provo Canyon, 15 km of grooming, rentals and lessons, full-day or half-day pass required, no dogs,
  • White Pine Touring Nordic Center, Park City, more than 15 km of groomed loops, rentals, lessons, kid-trailer rentals, full day or after-3 p.m. pass required, no dogs,  

Gearing Up

Functional, cool-looking gear and duds for hitting the track.

Leki PRC 650 ski poles. These sturdy-but-light carbon poles feature The Nordic Shark, a grip/strap system with quick-release pole straps allowing quick detachment from your poles to answer a phone call, pick up after your dog, or high-five your buddy after climbing a slope.

 Smith Bobcat sunglasses. Google-like coverage with the airflow and light weight of sunglasses is what you’ll get with these stylish shades. Each pair comes with a dark lens for bluebird days and a clear one for when it’s not so sunny.

Swix Dynamic pants. Since cross-country skiing is such a cardiovascular-heavy sport, breathability is key in clothing. These pants have breathable, wind-proof and water-resistant front panels; comfortable, multi-directional stretch; and zippered leg openings, making them easy to get in and out of.

Melissa Fields
Melissa Fields
Melissa (O' Brien) Fields is a contributing editor to Utah Bride & Groom magazine and a contributing writer for Salt Lake magazine. She is an accomplished freelance writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience.

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