All you have to do is take a short drive from Canmore’s downtown core, up the hill to the local Nordic Centre, and you will get a quick understanding of just how popular the sport of cross country skiing is to the valley and its residents.
In 1988 Canmore was selected to host the cross country skiing and biathlon venues for the Calgary winter Olympics. Since then, the site has been a legacy for the games and has seen upgrades and makeovers that keep it up to standards in order to host everything from local to world cup events in both cross country skiing and biathlon. Known as one of the most difficult venues in the world, the Canmore Nordic center has everything the sport needs to make it monumental. Long climbs, altitude, scenery, and a combination of natural and man made snow that makes for waxing nightmares. Best part is that as a local for just a small fee you, too, can have it all and feel world class in your own way.
The popularity of Nordic skiing has had its ups and downs in Canada over the past few decades, but it has always had plenty of energy and enthusiasm in this small town. Mainly due to it being the home of Cross Country Canada and the large number of teams in cross country and biathlon that call these trails and facilities home. All of our National Team members in cross country and biathlon on both men’s and women’s sides call the Canmore Nordic center and its trails home. In the summer the teams use the extensive roller ski loops and training facilities as they wait for the snow to fly.
In the past few decades, the technology in cross country skiing has really evolved and become very technical at the top of the sport, but has remained very user friendly at the beginner side of the sport. Simple skis that don’t require waxing, an easy to use binding system, and much warmer and stiffer boots have made the sport user friendly and more comfortable.
The sport of cross country skiing in the area has a real family feel, with kids having the ability to join Jackrabbits, an entry level ski program, or a junior race team, giving parents the opportunity to get out and explore the trails while their little ones are well taken care of.
If cross country skiing intrigues you and you’re looking to get involved, here are a few helpful tips to get you on your way with a bit more ease.
Decide on a type of cross country skiing first: Classic skiing is the diagonal stride type of skiing that uses the deeper set tracks on the side of trail and is the original form of Nordic skiing. Skate skiing on the other hand uses a skating motion in conjunction with a good poling rhythm to propel you forward and up hills.
Take a lesson once you have decided which is best for you; proper technique and gear selection are critical for taking the sport on in a fun and safe way.
Don’t be discouraged by the effort it takes. Nordic skiing is one of the world’s toughest sports and it involves the entire body, when done properly. From the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers, your body is completely involved.
The learning curve is steep, so give it some time and practice and you’ll be proficient in no time.
Dress right. Since the entire body gets involved while cross country skiing, the output is huge and doesn’t take long before you’re sweating and overheating.
If you don’t like the crowds, well then cross-country skiing is also a great way to explore the backcountry. Once you are proficient at classic skiing, you can graduate to lesser-groomed trails or breaking trail and exploring snow covered fire roads and double track. There are many locations just a short drive from town that are excellent for these types of adventures.
So, the next time you’re looking to try something new or looking for a full body workout, don’t forget about the world class venue and sport that has put this little town on the map.