A beginner's guide to basic XC ski terms
Downhill skiing typically utilizing chairlifts to gain elevation for decents. Often mistakenly
referred to as a catch-all for the term "skiing".
American Cross Country Skiers
United States national membership association for Master cross country skiers (skiers aged
30 and older).
American Ski Marathon Series
Nationwide series of premier ski marathons (30-52km).
Any kind of skiing done away from developed land or open roads. Usually refers to a
combination of cross country and telemark skiing in wilderness or mountain areas.
The bottom of the ski, usually made of a hard, clear material in light touring and touring skis
and of a slightly softer black graphite material in performance skis.
Plastic RfootS on the end of a pole shaft that provides a pushing platform for the poling
motion. Smaller and lighter on performance equipment.
Same as Winter Biathlon but with cross country running in place of Cross Country Skiing.
Olympic and World Cup event involving Cross Country Skiing and marksmanship. Skiers ski
(with 22 caliber rifles on their backs) prescribed interval distances with stops at a range for
both prone and standing attempts at targets. In some races penalty loops are skied for missed
targets and in other events time is simply added.
Built-in flex within both classic and skate skis to provide maximum performance during push
and glide phases. Skate skis are single cambered while classic skis are usually double
cambered to provide for grip and glide.
(aka Traditional, Diagonol) Cross Country Ski technique involving opposite leg-opposite arm
motion in a straight-ahead direction. This is the technique primarily associated with Cross
Country Skiing. Virtually all the Cross Country Ski excercise machines try to emulate this
Cross Country Canada
National Governing body and administrative organization for Cross Country Skiing in
Cross Country Ski Center
A commercial area featuring groomed trails and other amenities. Most areas feature lessons,
rental equipment, food, first aid, and warming shelters.
Skis--Generally sized to the heel of a hand extended above the skier's head. Flexed to
provide both glide AND compression of the wax pocket during different points in the Classic
motion. Boots--Generally low to mid ankle support with a wide forward flex. Poles--Sized to
fit under the skier's armpit.
Skis--Can come in wide variety of sizes depending on snow conditions. Performance and
all-purpose skate skis generally are 10 cm shorter than Classic skis. Boots--Generally
designed with superior ankle and lateral support. Poles--Sized to fit to the cleft of the skier's
(International Federation of Skiing) International governing body for all ski sport.
(also--face plant, melon slide, nose burner) Face-first fall.
Norweigian ski stadium/course and home of the most famous annual World Cup competition.
Starting format for a race or tour where 1-2 racers start at even intervals.
(International Olympic Committee) International governing body for all Olympic competitions.
Olympic and World Cup competitive event involving jumps of varying heights. Performed
with free-heeled skis.
Gooey gel used for kick waxing in conditions such as old transformed snow and very wet
snow. Absolutely the stickiest stuff on Earth but very effective in the right snow conditions.
Group start to a race or tour.
Olympic and World Cup event involving combined competition in Jumping and a subsequent
Cross Country Ski race. Racers start the ski race based on how well they jumped--first one
across the line wins.
Typically refers to any form of Cross Country Skiing. The Nordic sport family includes: Cross
Country Skiing, Biathlon, Jumping, Nordic Combined, Ski Orienteering, and Telemark.
(Touring) X-C skiing on unprepared snow whether previously skied-in or not.
Handle on a ski pole. A loop runs around the wrist allowing a complete range of motion thru
the poling phase.
Short (2-3 ft.) metal shafts with rubber or polyethelene wheels attached to both ends.They
are used primarily on pavement although some models work off-road. Primary off-snow
training method for cross country skiers.
Large indentation in a track or open area created by a previously-fallen skier.
(aka "Ski O") World-wide Nordic discipline where the skier must locate a series of control
points with the aid of a topographical map and compass.
Strips of material that are temporarily affixed to the bottom of skis for climbing (hiking on
skis) sustained grades. Usually only used in the backcountry.
Small tins of kick wax that is applied in a crayon-like fashion. Color-coded by the brand to
adapt to anything from sub-zero to freezing-level snow. Primarily used on fresh snow and
Type of downhill turn and style of turning typically involving one ski slid forward and a
distinctive forward bent knee position. Telemark turns provide good fore/aft stability that
makes them effective at an alpine area using chairlifts or in the backcountry.
(also 3-pinning) Name for a strong, stable binding/boot system usually used in Backcountry
X-C, Touring, and Telemarking. Can also refer to the abovementioned types of skiing.
(off track skiing or backcountry ) Any kind of Cross Country Skiing done off of groomed
XC skiing on machine-prepared snow for either classic or skating techniques. Prepared
tracks allow for superior glide and greater control for all types of skiers.
(United States Biathlon Association) National Governing body and administrative organization
for Biathlon in the United States
(United States Olympic Committee) Global representative for the United States in all Olympic
(United States Ski and Snowboard Association) National Governing body for Alpine and
Nordic (minus Biathlon) skiing in the United States.
Comes in two types: kick and glide. Kick wax is used for grip in the Classic technique. Both
Stick wax in a tin and klister are common varieties of kick wax. Kick was is applied
exclusively to the middle third of Classic skis. Glide wax is used on the tips and tails of Classic
skis and the entire length of Skating skis. Glide wax helps protect the base of a ski and adapt
the base to the temperature of the snow for superior glide.
Skis with small ridge patterns on the middle third of the base to provide grip during the
Series of international races held almost exclusively in Europe each season. The highest level
of Nordic competition outside of the World Championships and Olympics.