Cross-Country Glossary

            A beginner's guide to basic XC ski terms

Alpine skiing
     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).
Backcountry Skiing
     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.
Base (Ski)
     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.
Biathlon (Summer)
     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.
Classic Technique
     (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.
Equipment/Classic Technique
     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.
Equipment/Skating Technique
     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.
Interval Start
     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.
Mass Start
     Group start to a race or tour.
Nordic Combined
     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.
Nordic Skiing
     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.
Off-track skiing
     (Touring) X-C skiing on unprepared snow whether previously skied-in or not.
Pole Grip
     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.
Ski Orienteering
     (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.
Stick Wax
     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
     sharp crystals.
     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.
Three pin
     (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
Track skiing
     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.
Waxless Skis
     Skis with small ridge patterns on the middle third of the base to provide grip during the
     Classic motion.
World Cup
     Series of international races held almost exclusively in Europe each season. The highest level
     of Nordic competition outside of the World Championships and Olympics.

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