Winter Activities

Cross-Country Skiing in Kelowna: Trails and Tips for Beginners

a bunch of skis that are laying in the snow with trees in the background at Big White Ski Resort.
Big White Ski Resort

Cross-country skiing, a sport that gracefully combines fitness and the splendour of snowy landscapes, is a beloved winter pastime in Kelowna. Its accessibility to beginners makes it a prime choice for those looking to indulge in winter sports without the steep learning curve of more extreme alternatives.

Types of Cross-Country Skiing

In cross-country skiing, two main styles are prevalent: classic and skate skiing. Classic skiing, the more traditional form, is ideal for beginners. It involves a straightforward, rhythmic stride known as the "diagonal stride" or "kick and glide." Skate skiing, a more recent variant, resembles the motions of a speed skater and is generally faster-paced.

Gear for Cross-Country Skiing

The gear essentials for cross-country skiing include skis, boots, and poles. Skis for cross-country are typically longer and narrower than those for downhill skiing, designed for gliding over flat and undulating terrain. Boots should be comfortable and flexible, ensuring a snug fit with the bindings. When selecting poles, the top should align approximately with your armpits when the tips are planted in the snow. For beginners, renting gear is a practical option, allowing for experimentation before committing to a purchase.

What to Wear

Dressing in layers is key for cross-country skiing. The activity is a robust workout, and your body will generate significant heat. Opt for non cotton layers that wick away sweat and allow for easy movement. A base layer of moisture-wicking fabric, a warm mid-layer, and a windproof outer layer are essential. Don't forget a hat and gloves to protect against frostbite.

Precautions for Cross-Country Skiers

Staying warm and safe is crucial in cross-country skiing. Adjust your layers to avoid getting too cold or overheating. Be mindful of your surroundings, especially in areas prone to avalanches. A basic understanding of navigation is vital if you’re skiing outside developed trail systems. And remember, falls are part of the learning process, but knowing how to fall correctly can reduce the risk of injury.

Etiquette for Cross-Country Skiers

Beginners should start on green trails, designed for novice skiers. Understanding and adhering to trail etiquette is important for a safe and enjoyable experience. This includes following the correct direction on one-way routes, yielding to faster or downhill skiers, and preserving the grooming of the trails.

Basic Techniques

Mastering basic cross-country skiing techniques starts with a balanced stance. Practicing weight transfer and the cross-country shuffle helps beginners develop a feel for the skis. Gradually, incorporating poles into your stride adds speed and power. The basic diagonal stride is the foundation of classic cross-country skiing, requiring coordinated movements of opposite arms and legs.

Trails in Kelowna

Kelowna and its surroundings boast an array of trails suitable for beginners. Telemark Nordic Club and Kelowna Nordic offer well-maintained trails with various levels of difficulty, including options for first-timers. Big White and Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre also present trails that cater to beginners, providing ample opportunities to practice and enjoy the serene beauty of the region's winter landscape.

Cross-country skiing in Kelowna is not just a sport but an opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the tranquil beauty of winter. Whether you're gliding through a forest trail or taking in the panoramic views of snow-capped landscapes, it promises an enriching experience for both the body and the soul.