Skiing and Its Types


A man riding skis down a snow covered mountain

Skiing is a winter sport that involves travelling down a hill on skis. It can be done for recreation or competitively. Skiing can be done on alpine slopes or cross-country trails.

Skiing can be divided into two major groups: Nordic, which requires a long narrow ski and the ability to carry one’s own weight. The other type is alpine skiing, in which the skier rides a chairlift up the mountain and coasts back down on a broad plank.

Nordic skiing

A stuffed animal in the snow

Nordic skis come from Scandinavia where they were first used as farm implements to beat small patches of dirt for planting potatoes. In many ways, nordic skis are still today’s choice for serious cross-country skiers because it allows them to glide across flat terrain without sinking into deep powder snow or mud. 

Despite what you might read in other articles, not all Nordic skis are blue and not all alpine skis have those cool metal edges on them. As any skier can attest, there is a more specific way to differentiate between these two types of gear…

Nordic skiing is a sport for people who enjoy exercising at a slow pace. Whereas an alpine skier will slalom from one gate to the next as quickly as possible, a cross country enthusiast will slowly bounce along enjoying nature’s beauty without missing any details. In fact, many nordic skiers have been known to spend an entire ski day going from one scenic overlook to the next. Alpine skiing is a sport for people who enjoy being fast and sleek – you can’t win any races on cross-country gear!

Nordic skiers love nature so much that they often only use the term “ski” for downhill sports…it’s just not possible to glide menacingly through thick pristine evergreen forests with broad slotted planks strapped to one’s feet. Besides, you wouldn’t want a metal edge digging into a rare old-growth cedar or blue spruce while imagining it was your oil tycoon nemesis in the trunk of your car.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine skiing began when an Austrian mountaineer named Hannes Schneider moved from climbing icy precipices to sliding down them at night with a pair of smooth wooden boards attached to each foot. The advent of the ski lift enables alpine skiers to go much faster than cross-country enthusiasts.

Alpine skis are made from maple and other hardwoods for a very good reason: they can survive repeated crashes against trees, rocks and stationary objects at high speeds. Nordic skis are made from the finest grade of foam core because if you ski with your eyes open you will eventually end up at a cross-country lodge where they serve hot chocolate and cheese fondue! 

Alpine skis contain tiny metal edges that grip into packed snow or icy surfaces allowing the skier to make short quick turns wherever he wants. Cross-country skiers on the other hand spend their entire day on flat terrain so there is no need for sharp metal bits on either tip or tail. When it comes to cornering on nordic skis, one makes imaginary S-turns as quickly as possible.

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