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Nordic skiing, your next winter activity!


With the cold weather setting in and the first snowflakes of the season falling, you are probably starting to think about which winter activities you will be practicing this year. When it comes to skiing, other than downhill and cross-country, you’ve probably noticed that many people are using their legs to climb the mountain, instead of taking a chairlift. I am referring to Nordic skiing, also known as back country, which has gained in popularity in recent years.

Its objective? To ski uphill. To ski downhill. Back country skiing allows you to venture onto natural, ungroomed terrain, to climb your favorite mountain with skis on your feet and to enjoy touring on the fresh powder snow. It’s a great mix between alpine and cross-country skiing in a natural environment! 

So why consider this sport? Below, I share some of the reasons why I started Nordic skiing as well as my tips for enjoying this great winter activity.

Reasons to adopt Nordic skiing

If you’re like me, in the winter, you need to get active to stay warm! It’s true that with cross-country skiing I manage to work my legs and raise my heart rate, but I adopted Nordic skiing for three main reasons:

  1. To go uphill with more ease: Goodbye to the nervous climb in duck-walk and welcome to climbing with stability and grip! Thanks to the scales under the skis and the removable synthetic skins, you will feel like you’re wearing snowshoes. The nylon skins adhere to the snow and allow you to go uphill without slipping and sliding.
  2. To go downhill without being scared: On conventional cross-country skis, I feel unstable when navigating through downhill slopes. However, with the wider touring skis and the metal edges on both sides of the ski base, I feel more in control and more stable on the way down. Also, when the slopes are too steep or the difficulty level is higher, you have the option to keep the skins on to help slow down the descent.
  3. To venture anywhere: Finally, you don’t need to have access to a groomed trail. All you need is a mountain, a forest, a compass (my boyfriend in my case) and off you go! A real feeling of freedom will consume you and an instant connection with nature will be created!

Precisions on Nordic skiing

Ski touring, high road skiing, alpine touring, adventure skiing are different terms, all referring to off-piste skiing. Ski terms vary depending on the equipment used and the terrain selected. The main differences are in the width of the skis, the type of boots (soft or hard) and the bindings. To help you choose the right equipment, consult a specialist with your goals and preferences.

How to prepare yourself?

As with any sport, your physical condition will impact your enjoyment of the sport. With Nordic skiing, the leg muscles are heavily solicited, including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Be sure to train them regularly, as well as your cardiovascular capacity, which is greatly solicited during the climbs. With a good cardio system, the climbs will be less demanding, and your breath will be easier to catch.

One thing is certain, make sure you choose your outings and your playing field according to your abilities. An exhausting outing or an injury will only undermine your desire to return. Remember that cardio fitness improves with practice as does leg endurance. For workouts that are perfectly adapted to your condition and your goals, consult the pros!

Finally, here are some practical tips for your outings:

  1. Use a “multi-layer” strategy to improve comfort. Navigating through the slopes can make you sweat so, it’s a good idea to remove a layer of clothing to help you cool off.  
  2. Choose regular goggles (not alpine ski goggles) with light lenses to make it easier to see when it snows.
  3. Carry a small backpack for your extra layers of clothing and your windbreaker which you will greatly appreciate during your brisky descents.
  4. Use mitten hand warmers for colder days…. And in my case, foot warmers too!
  5. Pack a healthy snack and stay hydrated especially during longer outings.  

I invite you to discover this sport by buying or preferably renting equipment to try it out. It is a beautiful sport to practice with your spouse and friends while enjoying nature’s beauty. Let the calm of the forest relax you. Listen to the sound of the snow and ice under the skis. Feel the sunlight warming your face. Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the indoor warmth after a big outing! This activity is a great way to stay in shape, to oxygenate your body and your head and to get some fresh air despite the cold winter days!

Let me know how it goes!

Have a good outing and a Happy Winter!

References :

Karine Larose, M.Sc.

Karine Larose is a kinesiologist, Director of Marketing and Communications and Spokesperson for Nautilus Plus who specializes in fitness motivation. She authored The Guide to Healthier Living, penned the book 10-4 The Healthy Way to Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks and released her third work called Zero Diet: Delicious and Healthy Recipes for Success, all by Les Éditions du TRÉCARRÉ. Karine has launched a series of exercise DVDs entitled 30 minutes par jour pour Vivre Plus and is featured on the ULTIME FIT online platform. Many TV shows and radio stations regularly request Karine’s point of view on physical exercise issues and points of interest.

Nordic skiing, your next winter activity! is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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