Discover and get started in classic cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing originally came about with the alternating step technique. This technique can be picked up quite naturally, as it’s similar to running. It’s suitable for all ages and all levels because you can do it both in walking and sports mode. Discover this winter sport and the basics to get off to a good start.

classic cross-country skiing video

Classic cross-country skiing

Originating in the Scandinavian countries, cross-country skiing dates back to antiquity, when it was used as a way of getting around.
The alternating step technique, also called classic cross-country skiing, is the one we find at the origin of this discipline.


    The classic technique

    Classic cross-country skiing is like walking/running, with added sliding.

    It’s generally practised in Nordic areas
    in grooves laid out on the snow to guide the skis.
    The skis are equipped with a gripping zone under the ski which prevents them from sliding backwards in the climbs.

    Unlike skating, the alternating step technique lets you get off the tracks and venture off-piste, assuming you’re prepared and careful, of course.


    The benefits

    Classic cross-country skiing is practised on the slopes of Nordic areas in the heart of nature.
    It’s a great way to recharge your batteries and burn some calories.

    It’s a complete sport that works the whole body, develops the cardiovascular system, balance and coordination.  

    Alternating cross-country skiing is accessible to everyone, from around the age of 4. Whether you’re young or not-so-young, alone, with family, friends, athletic or more contemplative, cross-country skiing is beneficial both physically and psychologically.

classic cross-country skiing

A sport that’s accessible to all!

Alternating cross-country skiing is accessible to everyone, from around the age of 4. Some ski areas offer “Snow Gardens” to introduce little ones to the sport. Here, children can gradually discover cross-country skiing while being comfortable with the walking movement. Whether you’re young or not-so-young, alone, with family, friends, athletic or more contemplative, classic cross-country skiing is for everyone.

Fancy giving it a try?

Check out our tips to get you started in cross-country skating.

  • Getting started

    There are no prerequisites to getting started in cross-country skiing - you just need to know how to walk!
    Nevertheless, we recommend you begin with a professional if you want to acquire the best basic techniques from the start.

    All the same, this technique, very easy to master in beginner mode, becomes a bit more complex when you want to move on to the next level. At a more advanced level, it could be said that the classic technique requires more finesse and is even more complex to master than the skating technique. 

  • A few exercises
    to begin with

    To get started, we recommend you find your balance on your skis and learn to move about without trying to slide. Position yourself in the tracks without poles, body straight without tilting the pelvis. Then try to move forward by pushing on one leg with the opposite arm, just like when walking.
    Repeat this exercise until your movements become fluid.
    Then gradually, you can try to slide
    and extend your sliding phase, using your poles to propel yourself.

  • Preparing yourself

    If you want to progress faster and have fun, we recommend you prepare beforehand by practising a basic sport such as cycling, running, swimming or Nordic walking to get in shape.

    Out of season, rollerskiing is another excellent way of keeping fit and maintaining your technique.

What about equipment?

To practise classic cross-country skiing, you need to get yourself a specific pair of skis and boots
for classic cross-country skiing, as well as a pair of cross-country ski poles.
Before buying your classic Nordic ski equipment, it’s important to take into account certain factors such as: your physical condition
and level of ability, the choice of grip system, the compatibility of binding standards between your boots and your skis, as well as your body type.

Check out our tips on" how to choose" to find the equipment suited to your needs.


    Classic skis

    A classic cross-country ski is longer than a skating ski, usually more or less 10 cm above your waist.

    The sole of the skis has a grip system that prevents you from sliding backwards. There are three different systems.

    The length of classic cross-country skis is chosen based on your height, but above all your weight, as well as your level of ability.

  • inovik classic cross-country ski boots

    Classic boots

    Choose your boots based on the type of binding (3 different standards).
    They’re light with a flexible sole to allow the foot to roll and have a lower upper than skating boots.


    Classic poles

    Alternating (or classic) cross-country ski poles are slightly smaller than skating poles
    Pole size = skier's armpit
    Pole size = Height of the skier x 0.83
    Once again, the size of the poles will also depend on the skier’s physical qualities.

What to wear?

As for what you wear, it should be light and technical. However, you’ll need to adapt the warmth of your clothes according to the level of effort you put in.
The three-layer rule applies: a breathable technical base layer, a second insulating layer for warmth, and a third windproof layer.
Your trousers should be waterproof and fit close to the body for easy movement.
In walking mode, cover up more than in sports mode, when you’ll quickly start perspiring.

Remember to protect your extremities with a light hat, suitable gloves and warm, breathable socks.
Finally, remember to take with you a water bottle, sunscreen and sunglasses, or even a small backpack with a cereal bar

Do you like nature, wild landscapes, and peace and quiet?
Are you looking for some physical exercise, or simply want to take your time and enjoy the great outdoors?
Then head off for some classic cross-country ski trails, or maybe head off them … and tell us about your favourite outings.