Need a New Year’s resolution that will get you outdoors on snow and an opportunity for mid-winter exercise? Cross country skiing seems to be booming this year partially due to Covid. In fact, the sport, along with snowshoeing, may be benefitting from the pandemic according to an article posted on the web site for the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. (Also known as CCSAA). Last year, despite the Covid induced abbreviated ski season, more than 5.2M Americans participated in cross country skiing, a 6% increase over 2018/2019. Snowshoe participation grew more than 12% last season to 3.6M participants, according to CCSAA.
For starters, cross country skiing is less expensive than Alpine skiing or snowboarding that require, at a substantial price, the cost of a lift ticket. If you live in an area that gets its share of natural snow, it won’t cost you a penny to cross-country ski out your back door. Even if you choose to visit a cross-country ski facility the trail fees are far less than lift fees at Alpine areas. For example, according to CCSAA. cross country skiing trail day passes average $15 (compared to between $30 to $180 for an Alpine day ticket midweek). Season passes for cross-country ski resorts range from $25 for the Great Minnesota Pass and, on the high end, to $212 at the Trapp Family Lodge located in northern, VT to $280 at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Frasier, CO.
The xcskiresorts.com web site offers insightful information on locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Lists range from luxury destinations, to family-oriented day trip venues, most scenic spots and more. Each listing links to individual resorts. The CCSAA web site also lists its member resorts and includes information on getting started, how to dress, etc.
Early season sales of cross country ski products had increased up to 300%, according to the article on the CCSAA web site. Local media outlets from around the country, especially those in “snow states” are echoing the trend.
Cross-country products are less expensive than Alpine products. A pair of Alpine skis can run anywhere from close to $400 to about $1,000. Add on boots, bindings and poles and the cost increases significantly. On average, a snowboard typically runs from $200 – $400. Bindings and boots also are necessary add-ons but not poles. An entire cross-country ensemble – skis, bindings, boots and poles can be purchased for less than $400.
Cross-country skiing is an aerobic sport that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Like walking and hiking aerobic simply means you are moving your body, breathing faster, and increasing your blood flow. Depending on one’s body weight and physical intensity it is possible to burn up to 600 calories per hour cross-country skiing. Here is a calculator that can be used to estimate results.
Cross-country skiing has probably never enjoyed the fanfare and hoopla as have Alpine skiing and snowboarding. Some might even think of it as a somewhat boring activity. Don’t tell that to Jesse Diggins or Kikkan Randall who were the first U.S. female team to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing. One viewing of the Diggens/Randall Gold Medal run in the 2018 Olympics can change all of that and make even the most ardent skeptic a cross-country ski devotee.
Some photos credited to xcskiresorts.com and xc ski.org.