Cross-Country Skiing Safety
Staying safe on your happy trails
Fresh snow, the smell of pine and miles of pristine trails spread before you. But cross-country skiing involves more than strapping two sticks to your feet and heading off into the horizon. While we're happy to recommend frolicking with nature, don't do the same with chance. Abide by some essential safeguards and avoid injury this winter.
- Get your wax on - What kind of wax you use and how heavily you apply it will depend on the weather conditions and the kind of skiing you plan to do. And no, the same wax will not work every time you hit the trails.
- Know your ability - Are you into racing, adventure or back-country trails? Knowing what you want from your outing can help you find the perfect venue and make the day a success.
- Gauge your mileage - Remember that every mile you make on your trail is another mile you'll have to ski back.
- Take a lesson - Cross-country skiing isn't rocket science, but it does require some skill that will take time to learn. An experienced skier can help you hone your skills and improve coordination.
- Dress for success - Dress in multiple layers you can shed as your body warms. Bring an extra layer in a small backpack in case the weather turns while you're on the trails.
- Avoid solo treks - If you decide to take a jaunt alone, tell someone where you're going and always, always, always carry a cell phone or two-way transmitter in case of an emergency.
- Watch for wildlife - If you're lucky, you'll spot animals as you make your way silently across trails, but keep a respectful distance and know what to do in case you see one.
- Buy snug - Ski boots that are too big or too small will leave you with blisters and aching feet. If it doesn't fit well in the shop it's not going to be better on the trail.
- Get information - Before heading out, find out all you can about your chosen trail and the weather forecast. Familiarize yourself with frostbite, hypothermia and dehydration - know the symptoms and the remedies.
- Rest up - Don't hit the trails tired, hungry or stressed. You'll make silly mistakes and may hurt yourself.