Cross country skiing has been a mainstay of the winter sports in New Hampshire since settlers first moved in. These long skies allow you to glide over the snow with speed whether the terrain is flat or sloped. With good technique, you can turn quickly with them and manage twists and jumps as well. The sport of cross country skiing has evolved over the past few decades. While the biathlon remains an Olympic sport, the faster and more athletic speed styling of the Nordic style of cross country is becoming bigger than ever in the states. Nordic skiers use the same gear as regular cross country skiers, but the goal is speed and distance. There are many national and international professional/amateur Nordic skiing events held throughout the winter in New Hampshire. While you may think that flat is better when it comes to this type of skiing, cross country is exactly that – meant to take you across the country no matter what the terrain. This is why this type of skiing thrives in the White Mountains.
Learning how to do it
Cross country skiing is surprisingly strenuous for many people and requires a much different type of control than you use in Alpine skiing. Just learning how to control the length of the skis is the first lesson most people have to master. Before you take your first lesson, take the time to visit one of the local businesses to rent or buy bindings, shoes, skis and poles that fit your correctly. At least one lesson is recommended as there is a gliding technique to be learned. If you don’t learn it, you will do little more than walk through the snow on very long pieces of wood and find it painful and boring. Once you master the glide, you will see why this is one of the oldest and fastest ways to get around snowy terrain.
Jackson Biathlon Range
The Jackson Biathlon Range is the only permanent and public practice range in the North East. You don’t have to be contemplating entering the Olympics to want to try this very tricky sport. The Biathlon combines Nordic skiing with shooting. You may be shooting at fixed targets, but some competitions use skeet as well. The Jackson Range provides you with the trails and targets to test your skill. There are workshops and lessons offered and amateur competitions as well. In most instances you do not need to have any type of special license for the rifle used in Biathlon competition, but you want to remember that when you are out training for one, or just practicing for the love of the sport, that any hunting that occurs does require that you are licensed and follow the regulations. If you can’t get to the Jackson Biathlon Range, Gun Barrel has an amateur team and seasonal practice range as well.
Bretton Woods has over 50km of cross country ski trails available. It also has one of the oldest Nordic ski centers in the North East and the surrounding lodging caters to the more bed and breakfast needs of the traditional cross country skier. Bretton Woods has also embraced Nordic competitive skiing and extreme skiing. The difference between the two trails lies in their grooming and width. A Nordic trail will be six to eight feet in width and hard packed to provide for speed. The traditional trail may barely be two feet in width and is either left for breaking or groomed with two continuous ski marks to assist travel.
While everyone is talking about Cannon Mountain in terms of Alpine skiing and snowboarding, there are plenty of cross country trails available on the mountain and in the surrounding areas. Cross country skiing on Cannon Mountain can range from easy and intermediate skill levels up to the expert skills needed to handle the backcountry trails maintained on the mountain. Going up the backcountry trails to meet your friends for lunch at the top of the lift is one thing, it is coming back down the backcountry on Nordic skis that is going to test your will and control. Learning how to effectively come down an Alpine grade while on free heel bindings takes practice. It is highly recommended that you take a few lessons in the downhill techniques using these bindings before you head out.