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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Trail Snowshoeing Tips

Snowshoeing, which is easier to learn than cross-country skiing, is a wonderful way to explore the outdoors in winter. Snowshoes are often more practical than skis for exploring areas with dense brush and rocky and uneven terrain. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your snowshoeing adventures.

  1. Begin snowshoeing on flat open areas before heading into the backcountry.
  2. Snowshoes may require walking with a slightly wider gait than you normally would. Depending on snow depth, your step may be higher. Try not to step on the decking of the opposite shoe.
  3. While snowshoes help you float higher on the snow by distributing your weight over a larger surface area, they don't perform miracles. You will still sink several inches in fresh snow. However, in waist-high snow, you will sink only 8-14" with properly sized snowshoes.
  4. Snowshoes with tails track straighter than those without. They are recommended for wide open and fairly flat terrain.
  5. If you snowshoe with others, take turns breaking the trail to prevent one person from getting overly fatigued. Let the slowest person in your snowshoe party set the pace.
  6. Dress in several layers of clothing so you can add on or take off clothing to accommodate the weather and your level of physical activity. Wear synthetic underwear that moves moisture away from your skin. Avoid wearing cotton garments.
  7. Tell friends, family or park officials where you are going and when you plan to return.
  8. Carry some duct tape rolled around a ski pole or around a small block of wood in your tool kit, in the event you need to conduct a repair in the field.
  9. Snowshoeing can be strenuous. You will burn a lot of calories and lose a lot of water through perspiration. Carry a bottle of water that is insulated against freezing, extra clothing and snacks. Don't forget sunscreen, polarized sunglasses and a first aid kit in your pack.
  10. Check your bindings' straps for signs of wear before you snowshoe.
  11. Snowmobile trails are great for snowshoeing because the trail has been packed down. However, 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."

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