MAINE, Maine — The folks at Portland Nordic want you to consider getting outside to try out cross country skiing this winter. It is not only a lifelong sport, but a sport than can easily be picked up at any age.
"There is not a ton of equipment that you need to get started. And there are so many shops and places locally where you can rent or buy to get started. I mean you need a pair of boots, a pair of skis, a pair of poles to get started. And you need a venue and you need snow," says Kalie Dunn, Portland Nordic board member.
Mother Nature hasn’t exactly cooperated this winter with the snow part. Southern Maine barely saw any snow in January – but now? Conditions are better, and more snow is on the way.
"Ideally, I think getting some light fluffy powder is great – once the snow has been around for a while we haven’t received any new snow, it can get icy, that makes conditions a little tougher to ski in especially for newer skiers, so I would say powder or fresh newer snow is ideal." she continues.
Nordic – or cross country skiing – consists of two styles of skiing – Skate, and Classic – and the two styles call for two different types of equipment – unless you are a younger skier. "A lot of younger skiers will have something called combination skies or boots – so for short combi skies combi boots – those can be worn for both skate and classic techniques. More experienced or advanced skiers for example like high school racers or people who might have been doing it for awhile often get two different sets."
More often than not, people are using classic equipment. That’s the traditional technique, what most people think of when they think of cross country skiing...like you're walking with skis on.
Olivia Orr shows her classic skis. "These have on the bottom - we call them fish scales – this would be a pretty popular choice for someone who doesn’t want to have to deal with waxing. Little ridges in the bottom here so that way when you are compressing on your ski they’ll kind of latch in to the snow and help you make that next push forward. My skis are tall, and my poles come to about my shoulder. So these are pretty typical lengths for what you’d want for your equipment."
Kalie is using skate skis. "These are skate skis for skating as you can see they’re gonna be shorter than Olivia’s classic skis, which is typical, no fish scales on the bottom, so it’s just a straight base here, poles are a little bit longer, so these generally come up to like your nose. So, shorter skis, but longer poles for skate skiing."
Classic Nordic skiing is likely the style that most people think of when they think of cross-country skiing.
"It really is a lifelong sport – I know for me, running is pretty hard on my body there are a lot of sports that’s like “I’m not gonna pick up basketball at this point in my life” – Classic skiing is great, it doesn’t cause me pain, I can get out there and you know I picked this up when I was about seven years old with my family and I skied through middle school, through high school, I did a little bit in college ... You can put it away and you can come back to it, it will always be there for you," says Olivia.
"Nordic skiers are such an awesome group of people," adds Kalie. "You gotta be just an interesting type of individual to want to enjoy Maine in the winter in the outdoors and just kind of brave the elements but there’s nothing quite like just kinda zooming along a ski trail, in the woods, either by yourself, or with your family or friends, it’s so serene, it’s peaceful, it’s just a way to enjoy the outdoors, there’s nothing quite like it." For more information on Portland Nordic, click here.
Here are some links to help you both locate equipment and places to ski:
Where to Buy:
- Portland Gear Hub
- L.L. Bean (very helpful page called Get Started Cross-Country Skiing)
- Boulder Nordic Sport
- Carter's XC Ski (link to ski shop and also has trails)
- Akers Ski
Where to Ski:
- Pineland Farms (New Gloucester)
- Titcomb Mountain (Farmington)
- Nordic Heritage Center (Presque Isle)
- Fort Kent Outdoor Center (Fort Kent)
- Quarry Road Trails (Waterville)
- Outdoor Center at Sugarloaf (Carrabassett Valley)
- Twin Brook Recreational Park (Cumberland)
- In Portland, there's of course Riverside Golf Course and you can also look up which Portland Trails allow xc skiing in the winter
- Robert’s Farm Preserve (Norway)
- Black Mountain of Maine (Rumford)
- Libby Hill (Gray)
Check ahead for Covid restrictions, as many ski lodges are closed this winter. Please follow Covid precautions and requirements for each venue, and note that they may vary by location.