Cross-country skiing holidays

Discover the Alpine tranquility just minutes from busy ski resorts

There's more to skiing than using downhill skis

You've probably heard the terms — downhill skiing, ski touring, cross-country skiing, Nordic skiing, telemark skiing, ski du fond — but what do they all mean? These types of skiing can be split up into two groups

Downhill skiing

You're probably familiar with downhill skiing, where skiers catch a ski lift to the top of a snow-covered piste and then ski down.

Telemark skiing is similar, except the bindings are different, allowing the heal to raise. It was the original form of downhill skiing and provides an extra technical challenge.

Ski touring also uses different bindings, which allow skiers to walk up hills and explore further away from the ski pistes before skiing down.

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is just another name for Nordic skiing. In French, it's called 'ski du fond', and these three terms all mean the same thing. You've probably seen this type of skiing on the Winter Olympics. Nordic skis are different to downhill skis: they're narrow and they don't have metal edges, so they're light, skinny skis. The bindings clip onto special Nordic ski boots, which are more like a low hiking boot than a downhill ski boot, so they are light too.

Cross-country skiing is normally undertaken on dedicated, groomed cross-country trails, which are flatter than downhill ski pistes and have two deep grooves side by side for your skis to sit in. Each ski slides along in the snowy groove so it looks a little bit like you're running. The poles are longer than downhill ski poles, giving you better propulsion and a chance to work your arms as much as your legs.

Although it sounds easy, Nordic skiing is both a physical workout and a nice challenge to learn. Runners and fitness fanatics love cross-country skiing, as do nature loves who like the idea of sliding on snow without having to sit on ski lifts all the time.

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Types of cross-country skiing

There are two types of Nordic skiing — classic and skating. Classic cross-country skiers stay in the two grooves of the groomed tracks, zoomed down the declines and carrying on with their running style when the track flattens or ascends.

Skating is different again. Skiers who skate don't use the two grooves in the tracks at all. Instead, they use the flat track beside the grooves and use a rollerskating motion, pushing their legs out on a sideways angle like a backwards snowplough, to gain momentum.

Where to try cross-country skiing

Most ski resorts provide ski pistes for both downhill skiers and Nordic skiers, offering cross-country skiing tracks for both classic style and skating style, as well as ski schools so you can take lessons if you'd like to try a new style of skiing.

Some resorts, such as Morzine-Avoriaz, offer free entry to their Nordic ski tracks, so you could try it during your annual ski holiday without having to invest in anything more than a day's ski hire and a lesson. Other resorts, such as La Clusaz offer a very large area for cross-country skiers who want to spend more than a day on the Nordic trails.

Perfect ski holiday accommodation

What better way to unwind and relax your muscles after a day of Nordic skiing than in your own self-catered chalet with a hot tub or a sauna. Let the warm water or steam sooth away the day's exercise so you're ready for the next day, or book a chalet with a pool if you need more exercise!

At OVO Network, we have accommodation to suit all needs, from our family-friendly Cool for Kids chalets to luxury chalets. Use our filtering tools to choose the features you want and book today! All our accommodation comes with free Wi-Fi and plenty of entertainment, so you'll love your stay, whether its for cross-country skiing holidays or a simple, relaxing winter break.

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