Winter Sports Tips

Cross-Country Skiing Tips

  1. Your body works hard in cold weather and it's important to drink plenty of water and have a supply of snacks. Pack water, snacks, fruit or candy bars, extra socks, base preparation and a scraper and wax for waxable skis in your fanny pack. If you are going out for extended periods, keep your water bottle insulated from the cold so it does not freeze.
  2. Dress in layers so you can stay comfortable by adding or taking off clothing, depending on your activity level and the weather. Remember to shed your parka or jacket before you overheat. Dressing for the Outdoors
  3. Never wear cotton underwear, clothing or socks for skiing. You perspire when you cross-country ski and cotton holds the moisture next to your skin, which is uncomfortable, making you cold.
  4. Cross-country silver medalist Bill Koch advises: "If you are just beginning, take a lesson or ski with an experienced person. You learn the right techniques for stopping, climbing up hills, traveling downhill and even falling the right way, which makes your early ski experience more enjoyable."
  5. Teaching children to ski can be a fun family outing. Have your child ski without poles until they are comfortable with walking and gliding on their skis. Many cross-country areas offer instruction for kids as well as adults. Classes are a great opportunity for everyone in the family to brush up on their technique.
  6. Old wax on the sides and top of the ski can slow you down and make the ski heavier. Keep your skis clean by removing built-up wax. Many skiers prefer using a citrus-based wax remover, which is effective and environmentally friendly.
  7. Your skis may be waxless, but their base still needs treatment to improve glide. Add a glide wax to skis' tips and tails or wipe on a liquid or paste-base preparation along the entire length of the ski to enhance your glide and prevent snow from building up on the center of your ski, called the "kick zone."
  8. Although you can ski just about anywhere -- including your backyard, along power lines, at golf courses and parks -- we recommend going to a ski-touring center. Many offer amenities for all ability levels and have groomed trails, warming huts, professional instruction and even day-care centers. If you'd like to make a weekend of it, many also offer overnight accommodations.
  9. Transport your skis in a ski bag. Road salt, grit and other roadside debris will damage your ski base, slowing you down and shortening your skis' life span.
  10. Give waxable skis a try. They allow you to "adjust" your skis' performance to accommodate snow conditions and changing temperatures, resulting in a more efficient kick and glide. Waxing does not need to be difficult. Some manufacturers make a two-wax system- one for wet snow, one for dry snow. This simple system makes a great "first waxing kit."
  11. If you are purchasing skis for the first time, buy them as a package. Your skis, poles, boots and bindings all match and will cost less than if purchased separately.
  12. Snowmobile trails make for great skiing, because the trail has already been packed down for you. However, snowmobile trails mean motorized traffic. If you hear a snowmobile approaching, sidestep off the trail and let them pass. It's a nice gesture to those who are "packing the trail for you."

If you have questions about cross-country skiing equipment, call our Product Information Team at 1-800-975-4552, any day between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST.

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Basic Snowshoeing Tips

Snowshoeing is quickly gaining popularity because today's equipment is lighter, more streamlined and just about anyone can do it and it's great exercise. You can quickly get your heart rate up to aerobic levels in a very short time. Here are a few general tips to help you get the most from snowshoeing in fields around your home, at your local touring center or golf course (with permission from the owner) and for other casual outings.

  1. Generally, a person's size and weight dictates the surface area, or size of the snowshoe that is best for them. But if you plan to carry a heavy day pack or a child on your back, you'll need a larger snowshoe. When choosing snowshoes, let the types of activities and the areas you see yourself snowshoeing in most help direct you to the right model.
  2. Even on casual outings, layering your clothing and regulating your warmth are critical to comfort. When snowshoeing, your body will heat up quickly, so carry a fanny pack or day pack and be prepared to take layers off as you go. When you stop for even a short break, you may want to throw a shell or fleece jacket back on to prevent a chill.
  3. Carry a widemouth bottle of water that is insulated against freezing. If it's not insulated, carry it upside down (if it freezes the ice will be in the bottom of the container so you can still get the water out). Also important are extra clothing and power snacks. Don't forget sunscreen, polarized sunglasses and (if you're any farther than your backyard) a small first-aid kit in your pack.
  4. Begin snowshoeing on flat areas prior to tackling steep terrain or heading onto more remote trails. This will give your muscles a chance to stretch and loosen up before your require more from them.
  5. Using ski poles can really help with balance and they reduce the impact to your knees and ankles (poles are also helpful when getting up from a spill).
  6. Tell friends, family or park officials where you are going and when you plan to return. If you were to have an equipment failure or some other emergency arises, it's nice to know someone knows where you are and where to look for you if you're late coming home.

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