What is Nordic Skiing?

Classic skiing in the Goms Valley, Switzerland
Obergesteln, Goms Valley






The sport of Nordic skiing has a number of different names across Europe: Cross country skiing, Langlauf and Ski de Fond. All of which are interchangeable. The sport was developed many centuries ago in Scandinavia out of necessity for winter travel.


Since then, technological changes have made the equipment extremely lightweight. Unlike alpine skiing, the lightweight boots are only fastened to the ski at the toe enabling a much greater range of movement. The skis are also much thinner. Two distinct techniques have developed: Classic and the more recent Skating.


In the classic technique, the skis are mainly kept parallel, although it is definitely not walking on skis. The skating technique is more akin to the motion of an ice skater, and is faster but requires more balance.

International Gommerlauf



Nordic skiing is a low impact sport, being relatively unidirectional, with very little rapid twisting or torsion to the limbs and the free heel binding minimises risk to the knee joint should falls happen. Even when practised at a low work rate, it remains a high calorie burner. It can, therefore, be considered equally suitable for the less fit participants. As energetic as you wish it to be, Nordic skiing is just as good for the casual exerciser as for the fitness buffs.


For those that are more energetic and competitive, there are many “peoples” races throughout the season all across Europe. These range from short sprints to 90km+ marathons.  For more information on the health benefits click here.

Morillon Cross Country Skiing
Morillon and Le Criou







Cross country skiing gets you closer to nature, away from the crowds and is eco-friendly, what more could you ask for?


Still not sure it is for you?  Read what Kate Humble had to say about the sport in 2017 in The Telegraph newspaper.  A more recent article was published in the Telegraph on 16 Feb 2022, and included comments from me.  Read it here.


A couple of hours instruction can give you the basics to allow you to safely travel on the easier tracks. Classic technique is the most suitable to make rapid initial progress, and is what I would recommend for absolute beginners.