If you love to be out trail running, but also fancy a bit of alpine sport, then your perfect winter holiday could be cross-country skiing (or Nordic skiing to give it its official name). With special tracks cut into the snow, known as loipes, the routes can stretch for mile and miles. You can come off the tracks, take off your skis and stop off for lunch in the village – all away from the hulabaloo of the downhill skiers and the very expensive mountain restaurants. Hiring the kit is a fraction of the cost of downhill, and a mid-ski lunch won’t break the bank either.
As a keen runner and mountain biker, I had a go at Nordic skiing to satisfy the urge to try something new and also to experience the apres-ski culture and snow holiday that I had been tempted by.
Nordic skiing, if you’re doing it right, is hard work, technical, scary, physically demanding and very rewarding – everything a seasoned runner is looking for.
Just like downhill skiing it’s a skilled sport and the better you can be at it, the more you’re going to get from it. I was so lucky to have a wonderful instructor, Guy Beaumont, a friend who very patiently, taught and encouraged me. From the first bambi-on-ice moments, after all cross-country skis are only about 4cms wide, to completing my first circular route, I enjoyed every moment and with Guy’s expert guidance I really felt as though I accomplished a lot. Yes I fell over, a lot, but you’re far more likely to hurt yourself tripping on a tree root while out trail running.
There is no doubt there are people out there who believe cross-country is walking on skis. It isn’t. Learn the techniques properly, learn how to get uphill as well as down, learn how to control your descents and learn how to get up when you fall over and you’ll have a fantastic time.
The key of course is a great instructor. Guy is one of just two British instructors authorised to instruct in France by the French authorities and is based permanently near Samoens in the HauteSavoie region. Up until now, he has been helping friends and family find their ski legs, but is also a senior instructor for the annual RAF cross-country ski training in Germany. If you fancy giving it a try, then I can’t recommend Guy enough. More information is available on his website, www.gbnordique.fr.
Allison – Harrogate SRG