How Long Does it Take to Learn Cross-Country Skiing?

Everyone has a different source to learn XC skiing from, varying levels of absorbing what they learn and the enthusiasm that they put in when they practice the sport. If you have the right attitude and practice well, you may acquire cross-country skills in no time. It can be even easier if you are transitioning from another form, for instance, the downhill skiing.

How long it takes for you to get to know with cross-country skiing primarily depends upon yourself. The main factors that may decide your learning time include your fitness level, the style of cross-country skiing (classic or skating) that you would want to go for, getting the right equipment (which means hiring or purchasing it), and whether you are starting out with a professional instructor to guide you through.

Learning Cross-Country Skiing as an Adult

It is no hidden fact that cross-country skiing keeps you physically and mentally fit, and is a great way to connect with nature. If you have absolutely no idea on how to do cross-country skiing but are planning to give it a try, there can be no better time to start learning a new thing than now! Although you may have seen children as young as 3 years old sliding down on slopes with their skis on along with their parents, you can easily learn it really fast as an adult.

Here are the factors you need to consider in mind in order to learn cross-country skiing as an adult:

1. Pick one – Classic versus Freestyle

When learning cross-country skiing, as beginners you may come across two famous technique styles – the traditional Classic cross country skiing style and the freestyle Ski Skating.

Many trainers believe that the easiest style for learning cross-country skiing is the traditional style known as the Classic cross-country one. Here your skis remain parallel and point in a straight direction. As a beginner, most of the academies and professionals would tell you to start learning the Classic skiing and once you know how to balance yourself and get some glide, you can move on to learning the Skating cross-country style.

In Skate skiing (also known as the freestyle cross-country skiing), you go for a faster pace and your skis usually form a V-shape. You can master skate skiing from scratch but if you have already learned the classic technique and know how to balance yourself well on skis, learning freestyle can be a breeze.

2. Your Fitness Level

Although cross-country skiing is a great way to keep you fit and active, it is important for you to be in shape to hit the slopes. If you feel that just putting on the ski gear makes you breathe heavily, you need to make your body physically active to enjoy long hours of training. The last thing you want is to not being able to enjoy the snowy nature and your skis only because you are out of breath in the first few minutes.
Learn Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing can be challenging for adults who struggle to keep fit, but it could also be a huge source of inspiration for you to get in shape and see what your body can do and places it can take you to!

3. The Right Ski Areas

Whether you have learned the sport from reading blogs and watching TV, or have hired a professional instructor, you will always start at flatter surfaces. As a beginner, it is a good idea to aim for terrains that are at a low altitude and the trails are not too long. Once you get the hang of it, you can go for longer trails and challenge yourself.

For your clarity, often the cross-country skiing trails are rated blue (easy), Red (intermediate level), or Black (hard).

4. Your Ski Gear

As an adult, you know what you are getting into when you decide to practice the cross-country style – both physically and financially. You will need to buy skis, poles, boots, and bindings. If you want to just try the sport to see if it is for you for all the coming winter seasons to enjoy, it is a good idea to rent your ski gear from the ski center. If you have made up your mind to pursue cross-country skiing, you can always buy your ski equipment – there is nothing better than personalized and hygienic ski equipment that you do not have to share with others or return when the trip is over.

It is a good idea to not over-invest in your ski gear when you are starting out. Go for the basic quality and pricing, and once you develop a bond with this beautiful sport, you can pamper yourself with your ideal brand of ski equipment.

5. Dressing up

As it is commonly said in snow sports, there is no bad weather, but bad clothing! Layer up so you can have a sense of warmth and breathability without feeling suffocated. If you feel warmer than you would like to, you can always remove a layer of clothing.

It is advised to go for a base layer followed by a middle layer (mid-layer), and an external layer to protect you from wind, water, and snow.

You can always add more layers if you feel cold, or add a windbreaker when conditions get too windy. It is best to always go prepared as the last thing you want is to cut your day short only because you were not wearing the proper ski clothes.

6. Learn and Practice

You should always learn from an expert or a pro skier. Skiing may sound light and a straightforward thing, but it involves a lot of techniques and you need to make sure that you have the right body posture and position to execute your steps. You may also need to change your strategies when you are skiing uphill as compared to when you are skiing downhill, or when you want to glide on flat terrain.

Your initial learning will determine the way you ski in the future. For this reason, taking ski classes is a great idea to see how you are progressing and what areas you need to work on. Once you get to know with the basics, you can continue to practice, and you will be gliding over the slopes in no time.

Transition from Downhill Skiing

If you have done Alpine or Downhill skiing before and want to try the cross-country style, the good news is that you already know the basics. You are already familiar with the slopes and climatic conditions, how to dress yourself properly, and basic techniques like balancing yourself and moving forward. You may already know how to snowplow, use your edges, and skate downhill. The main difference you will notice when transitioning from downhill to cross-country skiing are:

  • You may find edging a bit challenging as most of the cross-country skis do not have metal edges.
  • You will find the skis comparatively narrower and hence harder to balance on.
  • When you move forward uphill or on flat terrain, you need to exert more power. In downhill style, you primarily have to only make turns.

Cross-country is a different sport than downhill skiing, but if you already know how to do the latter well, you will be able to transition to cross-country rather quickly.
Cross-Country Skiing
If you are concerned about the cost of purchasing cross-country gear, there is some good news for you. The cross-country gear is relatively less expensive than that of downhill skiing. Also, you can rent out your ski gear in the initial days to see how this new style feels like. If you have enjoyed downhill style, you will love what cross-country style has to offer.


Cross-country skiing is considered the easiest to learn as a beginner. For this reason, whether you want to learn skiing from scratch as an adult, or want your whole family (including children) to learn and enjoy this sport – cross-country skiing is as much fun for adults as it is for younger kids. Like with all kinds of sports, you need the right gear and must become proficient in the basic techniques correctly in order to enjoy cross-country skiing for years to come. Transitioning from downhill skiing is also a great idea as it will not only expand your skillset, but you will also be able to get the hang of the sport and enjoy a different branch of skiing.

The time it takes for you to get to know cross-country skiing can vary from person to person. And once you have learned how to do XC skiing, it will take some practice for you to master this sport. But with love and determination, and the right kind of gear and techniques, you can easily conquer those snowy surfaces and slopes in a matter of no time. If you think the winter season can be boring, think about cross-country skiing, and you will be anxiously waiting for the next winter all year long – that, we promise!