Nordic Skiing (also known as cross-country or XC Skiing) is the original form of skiing, with its roots in Scandinavia. It is usually done on flat or rolling terrain, either in classic or skating style. Classic looks like running on skis, while skating is like rollerblading on skis. Despite limited snowfall, Great Britain is taking a renewed interest in this sport, and has a team of world class racing skiers.
How can I take part?
You can go skiing virtually anywhere there is snow - in local parks, through forest trails or onto the higher mountains. Cross-country skiing is one of the most physically demanding sports out there, but anyone can try it out.
During the summer, or if you live in a part of the UK that doesn't get much snow, you could try out rollerskiing. Originally developed as a way of training during the summer, it has become a sport in its own right. Roller skis are short skis on wheels that can be used on roads and cycle paths. For lessons and equipment hire in your area, contact the nearest club listed on our XC Ski Club page.
How do British Nordic athletes train without snow?
Nordic skiing is a cardiovascularly-intense sport and athletes need to build their fitness to the highest levels to be able to compete internationally. Ski technique and fitness is practiced on roller skis, which are short skis with wheels used for summer training. Cardiovascular fitness and strength can be built off-snow with a mixture of cycling, running, swimming and gym work.
So what might a weekly training programme look like for a 15 year old competitive skier?
In early summer, for a talented young skier aiming for the European Youth Olympics the following February, a weekly training programme would entail about 2 hours of biking, 3 hours of running, (including running/walking with poles) and 1.5 to 3 hours of roller skiing. Added into that would be work on core & strength. The hours build up and ease off to stimulate the body to become fitter, but there is still a lot of emphasis on technique and making the activities fun.
What sort of races do Nordic skiers do?
Races can be in either skate or classic style and vary in distance from 1km sprints to 50km marathon races. Top GB skiers can average 30km/hour (19mph) over a 10km race. This is the ultimate endurance sport!
How is Great Britain involved at a world level of competition?
In the past, most competitive GB Nordic skiers came from the military. The formation of the British Nordic Development Squad and the evolution of fun and effective youth coaching methods has resulted in an upsurge of youth interest in cross-country skiing. British athletes can now be found competing at the highest levels, with top 10 results at the Winter Olympics and World Championships as well as representation at junior competitions such as the European Youth Olympics and World Junior Championships.
How much training do skiers need to do to get to world level?
Training with British Nordic is available to aspiring competitive skiers from age 12 onwards and training programmes will vary in the number of hours depending on age. Younger skiers are encouraged to participate in ski training as part of a range of activities, whereas older skiers are expected to commit more seriously to the sport. Training plans build up to a peak of around 24 hours per week during key pre-season periods for older athletes.
How can British skiers qualify to compete at top competitions?
The British Nordic Ski Team works closely with GB Snowsport, the sport's national governing body, to set criteria for events where there is a qualifying standard. This includes the Olympic Winter Games, World Championships, World Junior Championships, European Youth Olympics and World Youth Olympic Games. Further information on selection policies can be found on the GB Snowsport website.