All of us skiers can rejoice, for winter is now in full swing. There are abundant landscapes for us to traverse, as we yearn for that euphoric high we feel when we are connected to the snow, the trees, the crisp air and the rolling hills. It’s what keeps us coming back every year, that feeling that stops time. We feel entirely in the present moment, with no thoughts coming, nor going. A meditative trance takes over and recharges every bone in our bodies.
While it’s certainly no lie that we all love to ski, some of us may not know fun facts about the sport we cherish and how it came to be. So in the spirit of the season, read on for the 12 most important things to know about Nordic skiing.
1. Nordic skiing is a type of skiing in which only the toe of the ski boot is fixed to the binding. This allows the heel to rise off of the ski. Within the class of Nordic skiing, there is cross-country skiing and telemark skiing. Alpine skiing, on the contrary, involves the entire boot attached to the ski.
2. Touching a little on etymology, the word ‘ski’ originally comes from the Norwegian word, skíð. To no surprise, the word is meant to describe a piece of wood!
3. Although it is a popular sport and recreational activity now, cross-country skiing was originally invented as a means of practicality. In northern, frigid regions of Scandinavia, people originally used skis as a means of transportation from one region to another. The recreational side of the sport did not emerge until the early 1800’s.
4. Nordic skiing is older than you might imagine… 22,000 years to be exact. How crazy is that? Beyond transportation, skiing was also used as a means to survive. A cave drawing in central France points to the idea that the Paleolithic Cro-Magnon man hunted reindeer. In a snow-covered landscape, skiing was an inventive tool to help catch food.
5. Skiing gained traction as not only a recreational activity, but also a competitive one. Although it’s hard to pinpoint the very first competitive race, an early record indicates that a public ski competition took place in Norway in 1843!
6. Nordic skiing first appeared on a global scale at the 1924 Winter Olympics. Taking place in Chamonix, France, the event has since then evolved to include various disciplines.
7. Because of its vast availability, cross-country has become a popular leisure activity. As long as you are in a region with snow, you can traverse the land just about anywhere. There are hundreds of trails to visit from state to state, so rest assured you don’t need to travel far.
8. What’s more? You’ll also be getting a killer workout in, boosting your mood and well-being. The aerobic nature of the sport will help you get some much needed exercise in during those colder months. And I bet you didn’t know that cross-country skiers burn more calories per hour than any other sport… Let those endorphin’s fly!
9. One of the best advantages of the sport is its ease at which you can include a friend. Unlike some other sports or activities, Nordic skiing is great to do alongside friends. What’s better than getting outside with the people you love, as you glide through snow-covered trails?
10. Cross-country skiers have the highest VO2 max in the world. In other words, when comparing various athletes, cross-country skiers have the highest rate of oxygen consumption measured during exercise of increasing intensity. Because of the full body strength required during the activity, skiers will increase their overall aerobic capacity.
11. As the sport grows in popularity, an estimated 2.4 million cross country skiers currently participate each year. And of those 2.4 million skiers, 42% happen to be women, while 30.5% fall within the age range of 25-44.
12. Last but certainly not least, it’s free! Well, besides the initial setup of course. You can explore endless trails of snow, all without spending a dime. And after the holidays, it’s the perfect time to save money and kickback in Mother Nature’s playground!
For more information on Nordic skiing, check out our blog on the “Top 3 Reasons to Cross Country Ski this Season“, and if that’s not enough to convince you check out our blog on “3 More Reasons to Cross Country Ski this Season“.