A Country for Skinny Skis: Where is XC Skiing Most Popular?

Cross country skiing is gaining popularity with each passing season. It has grown from a sport belonging to certain snowy slopes to countries around the world that produce the finest XC athletes along with the best skiing terrain – both groomed and ungroomed.

XC skiing is extremely popular in Norway, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the US. While you may be tempted to try cross country skiing in Norway which is considered to be the founder of this sport, it is a highly popular sport in Canada as well as a favorite winter pastime in Vermont, USA.

In the World

The word “ski” is in fact a Norwegian word derived from the Old Norse word “skid” which means a long thing piece of split wood. The XC culture is deeply rooted in the Norwegian culture, as much so as it is popularly believed that every Norwegian is born with skis on his/ her feet.
XC Skiing
Over the years, XC skiing evolved from a mere means of transportation to entertainment and even a great means of fitness. Every year the ski marathon Birkebeinerrennet calls crowds of skiers to explore the untouched snow and mountains.

Norway has produced some of the top XC skiing athletes in the world making it a great place to learn and practice skiing. It has dominated the skiing world cup as well as the Olympics by the quality of skiing it produces and promotes. Norwegian ski stars like Marit Bjorgen, Petter Northug, Bjorn Daehlie, Therese Johaug, Johannes Klaebo, and Martin Sundby have proved the world that skiing is in the DNA of Norwegians.

Norway is not a popular destination for expert XC skiers but is a great learning ground (or should we say slope) for new skiers. Ski destinations like Holmenkollen (in Oslo), Sjisjoen (in Hedmark), Gala, Oppdal (in Trondelag), Geilo (in Hallingdal valley), and Hovden in Setesdal are examples of how ideal this country is for skinny skis.

Raudalen Alpinsenteret is located in Valdres close to Lillehammer, and while this resort may not be ideal for all kinds of skiing activities, what it is best in is cross country skiing. You can find a total length of 320 km of XC trails that are offered by the Raudalen and Beitostolen resorts. And if you are into breathtaking views (who isn’t?), you can take a trail that leads to the Jotunheimen National Park.

The Gaustablikk Resort in Rjukan is pretty gorgeous if you are into cross country skiing. While the total trail length does not go beyond 120 km, it is a great place for XC ski lovers. You can find beautiful trails across the high plateau. One of the best trails here is perfectly groomed making it a go-to Norway destination for cross country skiing. The snow is quite reliable and safe making this resort an ideal place for XC skiers.

Hovden is also a famous village for XC skiers. It is in the Setesdal valley which boasts some of the top trails for XC skiing in Norway. Not only that, but the skiers can also go to the top of the peak using a chairlift. The total length of the trail is 170 km.

Beitostolen Skisenter and Raudalen are some of the best XC resorts in the country, with their trails adding up to more than 320 km. The World Cup Arena for XC skiing is considered the best in Europe. If there are no official sports events taking place, skiing is open to the public to enjoy.

Kvitfjell resort might be great for all kinds of skiing events, it holds a special place (or should we say terrain) for XC skiing as the total trail length reaches the sky touching figure of 600 km. The 500 km long Oslo Vinterpark, 300 km of Hafjell, and 170 km of Geilo are any cross country skier’s paradise, to say the least.
XC Skiing

In Northern America

Canada is known for its land and snow – but what it is also famous for is the popularity of skiing that is not only a competitive sport here but also a great family activity.

Canada welcomed cross country skiing as a sport in the late 1800s, though it was a means of winter transportation for more than 5 thousand years by the Vikings. Jack Rabbit Johannsen, who was one of the greatest skiers the world has ever produced and is considered a pioneer of this sport, promoted XC skiing in Canada. And he continued doing so until his death at 111 years old.

You can find some of the finest XC skis and gears in Canada. Each year it not only welcomes Canadian skiers but skiing tourists from many other countries to explore its snowy territories.

What you see now in Canada, is XC skiing regarding as a great winter sport not only for Canadians but for people flocking from all corners of the world to explore the surreal terrain this country offers. More than 2 million Canadian cherish the XC skiing sport – this number includes world-class Olympic and Paralympic athletes as well as kids and families.

In the USA

In the United States, New England and Vermont in particular is one of the best places to head to with your XC Ski gear on the East Coast. It has been a favorite spot for winter sports for many decades due to the abundance of winter ski areas throughout Vermont.

Whether you are into the classic style of XC skiing or ski skating, Vermont is the place to be. It is not only great for experienced skiers, but for those who want to learn this amazing winter sport on classic terrain. With the varied terrain being an authority in XC skiing, more and more skiers from around the country and even tourists come to perfect their skill sets.

Vermont offers different experiences for different skiers. The classic style of XC skiing is usually done in groomed terrain where trails are premade and parallel grooves are cut in the snow. The skier moves forward with skis pointing in a straight direction. On the other hand, Vermont offers great terrain for ski skaters. Ski skating is a bit similar to ice skating where instead of pushing your skis parallel under your body (like in the classic XC style), the skis are pushed at an angle from the body. Whatever your style of XC skiing is, Vermont has 800 miles of properly groomed trails that cross country, as well as Nordic resorts, offer.

In short, if you want to explore XC skiing, Vermont has every kind of terrain –ideal for a beginner as well as those that expert skiers look out for.