Winter is a really fun time of year. Sure, shovelling snow isn’t great, particularly when we’ve gotten so much that there’s nowhere left to put it. But nothing beats a sunny day outside in the snow. My favourite winter activity is cross country skiing. And here at the library there are many books for beginners and intermediate skiers alike to help get you outside and active during these cold months.
One of my favourites is Cross-Country Skiing by J. Scott McGee. Don’t let its small size fool you – this book is absolutely packed full of everything you need to get out on the trails (and beyond!) From McGee I learned that there are more styles of cross-country than just classic (the traditional form that many people associate with cross country skiing) and skate skiing (the newer style where people ski out of the ruts and move fast!); there’s also light touring and telemark skiing, both of which get you out off the groomed trails. Telemark uses both cross country and downhill (alpine) skiing skills, but is still a method of cross country skiing because your heel is free (alpine skis have heels fixed to the ski).
McGee’s book also has a chapter devoted to waxing your skis. It’s really important to know the difference between grip and glide wax; I accidentally skied for years using grip wax on my skis’ glide area, which meant I was walking more than skiing (and while that doesn’t really work on flat areas or going down hills, it means you get to walk up the hills with little effort, which I’ll admit is pretty fun).
A similar book is Cross-Country Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness by Steve Hindman. It’s a larger and more in-depth book than McGee’s, which makes it perfect for intermediate skiers wanting to learn a little more (although it still covers the basics, so it’s good for beginners, too!)
If you’re wanting to help your children learn how to ski, a fantastic book is Ski Games: A Fun-Filled Approach to Teaching Nordic and Alpine Skills by Laurie Gullion. Knowing that children learn through play, Gullion has devised different games, many of which can be done indoors, that will teach your children the fundamentals of skiing so they can go outside and ski with confidence. Gullion is also a huge advocate for teaching unorthodox methods of skiing, particularly to anyone who has mobility issues that make traditional methods unsuitable, so everyone can go outside and have fun.
If you’re a beginner looking for somewhere to actually go cross-country skiing, or a skiing veteran looking for somewhere new, check out Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing in Ontario by Tracey Arial. This little guide has a comprehensive list of ski trails across Ontario. It includes how to get to the trail, how many trails are at each location, and other activities you can do while there (such as sledding or sleigh rides).
One last book I’d like to mention is Powder: the Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet by Patrick Thorne. This book is for alpine skiers, profiling the top fifty ski runs around the world. Forty nine of those ski runs are skiable by advanced skiers, while that fiftieth run, Mount St. Elias, is one of the toughest slopes ever (the book quotes a member of a team who skied it as saying “You crash, you’re dead.”) While I’m not an alpine skier, this book’s fantastic photography was so inspirational; flipping through it made me want to get outside in the snow!
Shauna Kosoris – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!