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Posted by motoman 04/01/2009 @ 13:14

Tags : skiing, snow sports, sports

News headlines
For ski resorts: 'Best season ever' - Watauga Democrat
By Scott Nicholson The fortuitous timing of holidays, a healthy smattering of natural snow, and improved snow-making technology all combined to make one of last winter's ski seasons the best on record. Mike Doble, whose Boone-based
Private-Equity Firm Gains Control of Montana's Yellowstone Club ... - First Tracks
Big Sky, MT - CrossHarbor Capital Partners, a private-equity firm based in Boston, has acquired Montana's exclusive Yellowstone Club ski resort in a settlement reached on Monday. The US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana in March approved the...
Local Ski and Snowboard Clubs Honored - First Tracks
Park City, UT - Clubs across the nation work year 'round to groom athletes for success in the competitive skiing and snowboarding arena. The US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) has recognized five of its more than 400 local clubs nationwide for...
Longtime Ski Area Manager to Leave Treble Cone - First Tracks
Wanaka, New Zealand - Jackie van der Voort, Area Manager at Treble Cone, will depart the ski area this week after 20 years of service. Wanaka resident Tim Hudson has been appointed the Acting Managing Director and will oversee ski area operations for...
Skiing in US down 5.5 percent this year - The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The economy may have fallen off a cliff last year, but the ski industry's drop was a lot more gentle. Preliminary figures show there were 57.1 million visits to ski slopes across the country during the past winter, a 5.5 percent...
Ski and Snowboard Athletes Honored For 2009 Success - First Tracks
Park City, UT - World Championship gold medalists Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Lindsey Van (Park City, UT) were honored for athletic excellence as recipients of the US Ski and Snowboard Association's (USSA) Athlete...
CEOs: Ski industry needs to shift focus from real estate - Summit Daily News
By ARN MENCONI Ski industry heads met in Florida over the past week to confront what some said was the most challenging year ever for snow sports. The week was marked by looking back and moving forward, as industry heavyweights discussed the economy...
Chili Cook Off Returns to Ohio's Snow Trails Ski Area May 30th - First Tracks
Mansfield, OH - The Rehab Chili & Hot-Wings Cook-Off held at Snow Trails ski area in Mansfield is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this May 30th. Family activities for the event will include the giant blow-up Beagle Belly Bounce and slide,...
Strapped ski area offers skiers piece of mountain - USA Today
By Lisa Rathke, AP Writer LONDONDERRY, Vt. — Greg Williams has been skiing at Magic Mountain in southern Vermont since he was 7. In 30 years, the no-frills resort with its steep terrain and narrow, windy trails hasn't changed much and that's the way...
SPORTS: Some skiers only midway through season -
He paused, in a moment considering the snow conditions not at the easy-to-check Steamboat Ski Area but on peaks hidden in wilderness areas north and south of Steamboat Springs. "I might be able to get in 50 more days," he said....


Cross-country skiing (skating style) in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

Snow skiing is a group of sports using skis as primary equipment. Skis are used in conjunction with boots that connect to the ski with use of a binding. Skiing can be grouped into two general categories. Nordic skiing is the oldest and includes sport that evolved from skiing as done in Scandinavia. Nordic style bindings attach at the toes of the skier's boots but not at the heels. Alpine skiing includes sports that evolved from skiing as done in the Alps. Alpine bindings attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boots. As with many disciplines, such as Telemark skiing, there is some crossover. However, binding style and history tend to dictate whether a style is considered Nordic or Alpine. Therefore, in view of its lack of a locking heel, and its roots in Telemark, Norway, Telemark is generally considered a Nordic discipline.

Pre-historic Nordic people and Samis invented skiing to assist hunting, military maneuvers, and as a practical transportation for themselves. The oldest and most accurately documented evidence of skiing origins is found in modern day Norway and Sweden. The earliest primitive carvings circa 5000 B.C. depict a skier with one pole, located in Rødøy, an island in the Nordland region of Norway. The first primitive ski was found in a peat bog in Hoting, Sweden which dates back to 2500 or 4500 B.C. Joel Berglund reported in 2004 the discovery of a primitive ski, or "85cm long piece of wood", carbon tested by researchers in 1997 while excavating a Norse settlement near Nanortalik, Greenland. The primitive ski dated back to 1010, and is thought to be Greenland's oldest ski brought by Norsemen circa 980 A.D.

Other accounts of early Nordic skiing are found with two modern cross-country endurance races in Norway and Sweden. These ski races were inspired by famous historic accounts of early medieval skiing in their respective countries. The oldest account involves the famous story from 1206 A.D. of the Birkebeiners during a civil war in medieval Norway. Considered the underdog, the Birkebeiners were at war against a rival faction known as the baglers. Following the death of the Birkenbeiner chief, the baglers feared a rival in his young son Haakon Haakonsson. To protect him, two of the most skillful Birkenbeiner skiers, with toddler in tow, skied through treacherous conditions over the mountains to safety in Lillehammer. Since 1932, Norway's annual Birkebeinerrennet runs a 54 km cross-country ski race that pays tribute to this historic account. Since 1922, Sweden has run their own ski marathon known as the Vasaloppet. With its longest race at 90 km and finishing in Mora, Sweden, it is known as the world's longest cross-country ski race. This endurance race commemorates the memory of "freedom fighter" Gustav Vasa and subsequently Swedish independence. Pursued by the Danes in 1520 A.D. (under order from King Christian of Denmark who controlled Sweden at the time), Gustav Vasa attempted to raise an army against the Danes but was forced to flee by skis northwest toward Norway. Tracked down by Mora's two best skiers, Gustav returned with them to Mora and lead an uprising that eventually overthrew Danish rule.

The word "ski" itself is one of a handful of words Norway has exported to the international community. It comes from the Old Norse word "skio" which means split piece of wood or firewood. Previously, English speakers considered skiing to be a type of snowshoeing. In regions where loose snow dominates, the indigenous population developed snowshoes that did not slide across the snow, unlike skis. Today's forms of skiing are the modern extensions of ancient Nordic skiing. Whether it be the Nordic forms of Cross-country skiing (a form of Telemark skiing) and Telemark skiing, Ski mountaineering or Alpine skiing, modern forms of skiing share common threads of origin from the Telemark region in Norway led by Norwegian ski innovator Sondre Norheim.

In 1868, with a couple fellow skiers, Norheim attended the "second annual Centralforeningen (Central Ski Association) open ski competition whose object was to demonstrate skill at descending a particular slope in the city." At the competition, Norheim demonstrated groundbreaking techniques that set the ideal benchmarks for skiing in Norway and the European Continent: the arc-like sweep of the "telemark turn" along with the skidded "stem" stop turn (commonly known as the "parallel" stop turn), which was initially known as the "Christiania" turn (original name for modern day Oslo). The "Christiania" came to be known simply as the "Christi" turn with the formalization of ski rules in 1901. Both turns, which originated in Telemark, mark the distinction between Telemark and Alpine skiing.

Collectively, these innovative designs and techniques laid the foundation for all forms of modern skiing and further developments, including one established form of skiing called Slalom by Norheim and his contemporaries in the Telemark region. Slalom, or "slalåm" in Norwegian dialect, is a Norwegian word originating from Morgedal, Norway. "Sla" refers to slope, hill, or smooth surface while "låm" means "track down the slope".

The skiing techniques of 19th century Morgedal known as Telemark skiing or "telemarking" underwent a revival in the 1970s. This revival of Telemark skiing has been attributed by author Halvor Kleppen to five American skiers from Colorado: Doug Buzzell, Craig Hall, Greg Dalbey, Jack Marcial and Rick Borkovec, who were collectively inspired by Norwegian ski phenomenon and Olympic champion Stein Ericksen and his book Come Ski With Me.

Whereas Sondre Norheim had initially invented secure heeled bindings using water-soaked, flexible birch roots, the next significant development of binding came in 1894 from Fritz Huitfeldt who invented a binding with a secure toe iron which allowed the heel to move freely. This became the standard industry binding through the 1930s.

Retired Austrian school teacher Mathias Zdarsky, like many others at the time (including famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who became the first man to "ski" to the South Pole in 1911), was intrigued by world-renowned Norwegian explorer and Telemark skier Fridtjof Nansen, and his "high-risk expedition" accounts, in the 1890 German translation of Nansen's book On Skis Across Greenland. Inspired by Nansen's skiing exploits, Zdarsky took up the sport during his retirement by importing Norwegian skis and teaching himself to ski. Incorporating ski techniques from Norway, he developed a ski technique system, known as the "Lilienfeld Method", which he outlined in his 1896 book Lillienfeld Skilaufer Technik (originally published as Lilienfelder Ski lauf-Technik). His key development, which led to enthusiastic embrace of skiing in the Alps, was the "stem" technique, or what is commonly known is skiing as the "snowplow" technique. This new technique enabled beginners to experience the slopes in a "slow, and controlled manner", beyond the more sophisticated and complicated Norwegian Telemark and Christiania techniques, which limited the slopes to more advanced and skillful skiers. By 1896, he was teaching his new methods to large groups of "stem skiers" in Austria.

In 1908, expanding on the developments of this fellow countryman Zdarsky, a young Austrian ski guide by the name of Johannes Schneider entered the scene. With respect to skiing, Johannes (also known as Hannes) is to Austrians as Sondre Norheim and Fridtjof Nansen is to Norwegians. By the 1920s, he had worked to refine Sondre Norheim's "Christiania" stem christi turn, along with fellow countryman Mathias Zdarsky's "stem" or "snowplow" technique. He used these Norwegian and Austrian techniques to develop a logical system of ski instruction, a system which began with the easiest snowplow technique, then progressing through to more difficult ski skills. This system formed the basis for Schneider's formalized Arlberg technique, which is named for his home region, and subsequently set a foundation for professional ski instruction. This system also incorporated a set of ethical standards to the profession of teaching. With this, the Arlberg technique spread and helped make skiing a popular recreational activity.

Many different types of skiing are popular, especially in colder climates, and many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Ski Federation (FIS), and other sporting organizations, such as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in America. Skiing is most visible to the public during the Winter Olympic Games where it is a major sport.

In skiing's traditional core regions in the snowy parts of Scandinavia, as well as in places such as Alaska, both recreational and competitive skiing is as likely to refer to the cross-country variants as to the internationally downhill variants.

For beginning skiers learning under a trained instructor, skiing speeds are low, the terrain is not steep and is often well-manicured, and the risks are relatively low. For extreme skiers, testing their expert abilities against ever more challenging terrain, the risks may be much higher.

Alpine Freestyle: This kind of skiing employs the use of aerial acrobatics and balance, balance being necessary for rails. The use of rails is known as grinding or jibbing. Alpine freestyle was pioneered by Stein Eriksen in 1962. It developed in the 1970s into a style called Hotdogging. More recently, Alpine freestyle has evolved into the current style called Freeskiing or freestyle skiing, a new style of skiing that started in the late 1990s, specifically 1998 when the Salomon "Teneighty" twin-tip ski (the first successfully marketed twin-tip ski) flew off the shelves, changing the ski industry and culture forever. The very first twin-tip ski ever made remains the "Olin Mark IV comp". In this type of skiing, skiers use jumps (also called kickers or launches) or rails to do aerial tricks. These tricks are reinvented and progressed in technique and style every day.

Free skiing or New School: The type of skiing with which tricks are usually associated. The skis normally used are twin-tips and are designed to land tricks backwards as easily as forwards as well as braces worn on the back of the boots to avoid shock-injuries. A free-skier can be seen taking a helicopter to the top of mountains, mainly to avoid the pistes, and would find natural jumps, moguls and obstacles such as fallen trees to perform their hallmark tricks on. Tricks are generally spins and flips, that can be conjoined with a grabbing of the ski to improve the image of the trick as well as grinds. This type of skiing can be very dangerous due to terrain and remoteness, so the majority of free-skiers are professionals.

Backcountry skiing: Also see ski touring.

Nordic Skiing: Also called Cross-country skiing or Cross-country racing. Takes its name from a type of ski race that is one third up, one third down, and one third flat. The name distinguishes it from other types of ski races and competition such as downhill racing, slalom racing, and Nordic jumping. Cross-country races can be either freestyle or classic. In freestyle racing, any technique is allowed as long as it is human powered and on skis. In a classic race, skating techniques are prohibited. World wide, Nordic skiing may be the most popular form of skiing since it does not require a specialty ski area. Typically after donning appropriate clothing, the skier goes outside and skis in a local park or even on a snowy street. Nordic skiing is the oldest form of skiing and was developed in Scandinavia as a way of travelling in the winter.

Dry Slope Skiing: This is skiing on artificial or dry snow, or dirt. Dry slope skiing is a year-round sport in countries like the UK where the snow cover is insufficient for traditional skiing. There is a thriving race programme on British slopes. .

Adaptive Skiing is skiing done by individuals with physical disabilities. Adaptations to standard ski equipment or accompaniment by a non-disabled guide has enabled individuals with amputations, spinal injuries, TBI, deafness and visual impairments to ski, and in some cases, even race.

Kite skiing and para-skiing is skiing done while being pulled or carried by a parasail, hang glider, or kite.

Military Skiing: In addition to its role in recreation and sport, skiing is also used as a means of transport by the military, and many armies train troops for ski warfare. Ski troops played a key role in retaining Finnish independence from Russia during the Winter War, and from Germany during the Lapland War, although the use of ski troops was recorded by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century. The sport of Biathlon was developed from military skiing patrols.

Nordic Jumping: Also called ski-flying and ski jumping. A competition in which skiers slide down a ramp called a jump and attempt to go the furthest before landing on the ground. This is done with Nordic style skis, meaning that the heels of boot and binding are detached from the ski. The skis are much longer and wider than other types of skis and jumping is typically done without ski-poles.

Randonnée: See also ski touring, backcountry skiing.

Ski jøring Ski jøring, also called Euro-style mushing, is skiing while being pulled by an animal(s), typically dogs or horses, or by snowmachine.

Telemark skiing: See also ski touring.

The venue, speed and technical difficulty associated with the sport can lead to collisions, accidents, hypothermia and other injury or illness, occasionally including death. Regional Ski Patrol organizations, such as the National Ski Patrol in the U.S., exist as a voluntary organization to provide guidance, help, medical assistance and emergency rescue to those in need of it.

Skiing competition is organized by the International Ski Federation, which is responsible for development of rules and scheduling of competitions worldwide in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined and ski jumping. Competition is managed in each country by its national association. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association is responsible for competitive skiing in America.

Skiing for people with disabilities became popular after World War II with the return of injured veterans. It is both a recreational pastime and a competitive sport open to those with any manner of cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Adaptations include the use of outriggers, ski tip retention devices, sit-skis like monoskis and bi-skis, brightly colored guide bibs, ski guides, and inter-skier communication systems or audible clues for blind skiers.

Recreational skiing programs for people with disabilities exist at mountains across the globe.

Currently the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Ski Federation (FIS) sanction a number of regional, national, and international disabled skiing events, most notably a World Cup circuit, a Disabled Alpine Skiing World Championships, and the Paralympic Winter Games. One of the strongest disabled programs is the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, organized by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and the U.S. Ski Team.

Inexperienced skiiers or seasoned veterans are prone to injuries that range from minor to fatal. Minor injuries can be when you fall down or if you break bones. Fatal injuries include hitting a tree on impact, for it could cause brain damage, brain blood vessels could burst, or even worse, death. Famous people and celebrities who succumbed to skiing accidents are Michael LeMoyne Kennedy (1958-97), Sonny Bono (1935-1998), and most recently, Natasha Richardson (1963-2009).

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Freestyle skiing

Somersault jump in freestyle skiing

Freestyle skiing began in the 1930s, when Norwegian skiers began performing acrobatics during alpine and cross-country training. Later, non-competitive professional skiing exhibitions in the United States featured performances of what would later be called freestyle. In 1946 a Canadian from Erin,Ontario named Jamie Hamilton perfected the 720 degree spin. Soon after a American freeskier named Robshark attackDyrdek perfected the 1080 degree spin. Aerial skiing was developed in about 1950 by Olympic gold medalist Rob shark attack Dyrdek.

Freestyle skiing began to develop further throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, when it was often known as "hot-dogging." Bob Burns pioneered this style in Sun Valley, Idaho beginning in 1965. In the late 1960s other followers of the style included Wayne Wong, John Clendenin, Bob Salerno, and Tom LeRoy. Some people thought that this style of skiing was too dangerous and did not want it to be an Olympic sport. The free-form sport had few rules and wasn't without danger; knee injuries became a common phenomenon for professional freestylers.

Organized freestyle skiing started in the mogul fields, the bumpy natural terrain that allowed skiers to show off with tricks, jumps and incredible turning abilities - freestyle mogul skiers were "hot-doggers" in the day. In 1971 Heavenly Valley, CA hosted a small mogul competition on the legendary Gunbarrel, one of the most challenging mogul runs in the country. As the sport quickly evolved, hot-shot mogul skiers like John Clendenin, Scott Brooksbank, Bill O'Leary and "Airborne" Eddie Ferguson gave rise to the sport and in 1975, Heavenly hosted the first U.S. Freestyle Championships which John Clendenin went on to win. That year, gave way to two competing freestyle organizations, Professional Freestyle Associates (PFA) run by Curtis Oberhansly and the International Freestyle Skiers Association (IFSA) run by Bernie Weichsel. Under PFA and IFSA, the world's best freestyle skiers competed for prize money in three disciplines - moguls, aerials and ballet in competitions in the United States, Canada and Europe.

In 1976 Snowbird, UT hosted the World Freestyle Championships, and ABC Wide World of Sports televised event. The event to date, attracted the most spectators in the sport's short history. It also represented a turning point, as young talent emerged from around the world, the likes of Ferguson, Clendenin and Wayne Wong, had given way to an new field of talent like "]" Jack Taylor, Peter Johnson in Moguls, Eddie Lincoln and Frank Bare in Aerials and Scott Willingham and Mark Stigemeyer in Ballet. And women's freestyle was now a full fledged sport with pioneers like Gina Fuller, Karen Huntoon, Mariane and Ellen Post and Penny Street redefining the sport for women.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) recognized freestyle as a sport in 1979 and brought in new regulations regarding certification of athletes and jump techniques in an effort to curb the dangerous elements of the competitions. The first World Cup series was staged in 1980 and the first World Championships took place in 1986 in Tignes, France. Freestyle skiing was a demonstration event at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Mogul skiing was added as an official medal event at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, and the aerials event was added for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

A group of skiers in the early 1990s, including freestyle pioneers Mike Douglas, J.P Auclair, Vincent Dorian and others started taking skiing to the snowboard parks. They became known as the 'New Canadian Airforce' and helped not only to pioneer aireal and rail based tricks, but also approached companies with ski designs featuring a twin tip system. The twin tip works much like a snowboard in allowing the user to ski normally or ski backwards (switch). The first company to market twin tip skis was Salomon in 1997. Freestyle began to gain more popularity and companies started making backcountry style twin tips for skiers to push the limits of freestyle and take it away from the snowparks.

Currently (2006) there are two main branches of freestyle skiing: one encompassing the more traditional events of moguls and aerials, and a newer branch often called new school, comprising events such as halfpipe, big air, slopestyle, and big mountain or free-skiing. New school skiing has grown so much that new ski companies were created, companies that strictly make twin-tip skis — skis that are designed for taking off and landing "fakie", or "switch" (backwards) on jumps and rails. Such companies as 4FRNT, Liberty, Ninthward, Line, Armada skis, High Society, and Faction skis all specialize in twin-tip skis, although more "mainstream" companies such as ATOMIC,Salomon, Rossignol, Volkl, K2, and Dynastar also make many models of twin-tip skis.

Skiercross is a new Olympic event and is currently under the banner of Freestyle skiing even though it is a race without a judged component.

Aerialists ski off jumps, usually built of wood, sometimes metal and then covered with snow, that propel them up to 40-50 feet in the air. Once in the air, professional aerialists perform multiple flips and twists before landing on a 34- to 39-degree inclined landing hill about 100 feet in length. The top male aerialists can currently perform triple back flips with up to four or five twists. Quadruple back flips have been performed on snow (purposely) by four men: Frank Bare, Matt Chojnaki, Eric Bergoust and Nicholas Fontaine. Currently (2006) quad flips are not legal in competition.

There are two varieties of aerial skiing competitions: upright and inverted. In upright aerials, movements in which a skier's feet come higher than his or her head are illegal. This is the most common type of aerials competition for junior competitors. In inverted aerials, skiers execute elaborate flips and somersaults.

In the late 1990's a new style of freestyle skiing began to grow in popularity. This style of skiing was created out of frustration with the highly competitive nature of other freestyle disciplines. Many skiers began performing tricks in the terrain parks, which were at the time reserved for snowboarders. The sport was originally referred to as new school skiing, but today is more commonly called "Freeskiing" . Freeskiing is much more open ended than Aerials or Moguls and is more accessible to the general public. The sport is also more appealing to younger generations and is similar in nature to snowboarding and skateboarding.When freeskiing began in the late 1990's only a select few resorts were home to a terrain park. Over the past decade most mountains have adopted the idea of have a terrain park, if not two or more. Most parks include features such as: step-up jumps, step-down jumps, tabletop jumps, boxes, and rails. Terrain park crews have been taking concepts even further recently though adding miscellaneous features like cars, empty propane tanks, barrels, and even small cabins that can be riden or used as a place to warm up to the landscape of the park. In the western US the park features tend to be larger than those in the east, in relation to the size of mountains. Burton, a popular snowbaord company has constructed all natural terrain parks with rails made from planed out trees. Freeskiing has become more and more progressive in correspondence to the advancements in terrain parks.

A huge growth in the popularity of freeskiing has also led to an increase of traditional freestyle disciplines, especially in moguls.

Trick skiing was first seen in Norway in the 1700s and by the 1920s skiers in Austria and Norway were doing aerials and somersaults. The sport became part of the Olympics first as a demonstration sport in 1988 and then as an official event in Lillehammer in 1994.

Aerial skiing is a judged sport, and competitors are judged on jump takeoff (20%), jump form (50%) and landing (30%). A degree of difficulty (DD) is then factored in for a total score.

Aerialists train for their jumping maneuvers during the summer months by skiing on specially constructed Water Ramps for Freestyle Skiing & Snowboarding and landing in a large swimming pool. A water ramp consists of a wooden ramp covered with a special plastic mat that when lubricated with sprinklers allows an athlete to ski down the ramp towards a jump. The skier then skis off the wooden jump and lands safely in a large swimming pool. A burst of air is sent up from the bottom of the pool just before landing to break up the surface area of the water, thus softening the impact of the landing. Skiers sometimes reinforce the skis that they use for water-ramping with 1/4 inch of fiberglass.

Summer training also includes training on trampolines, diving boards, and other acrobatic or gymnastic training apparatuses.

No longer a part of competitive freestyle skiing, ski ballet (later renamed acroski) was a third freestyle discipline. Competitions were conducted from the late-1960s until the mid-1990s. Ballet involved a choreographed routine of flips, rolls, leg crossings, jumps, and spins performed on a smooth slope. After the mid-1970s the routine was performed to music for 90 seconds. A panel of judges scored the performance. It was a demonstration sport in the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics.

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Nordic skiing

Nordic skiing is a winter sport that encompasses all types of skiing where the heel of the boot cannot be fixed to the ski. This includes a wide range of ski equipment and techniques such as classic and skate cross country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon, and telemark skiing. It also involves racing.

Nordic skiing Olympic events are Cross country skiing, Ski jumping, Nordic combined, and biathlon. The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships is a major event of these sports and happens in winter of odd-number years between Winter Olympics.

Below is a list of Nordic skiiers that have won at the Winter Olympics, FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, and Holmenkollen events.

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Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing (skating style) in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

Cross-country skiing (also known as XC skiing) is a winter sport in which participants propel themselves across snow-covered terrain using skis and poles. It is popular in many countries with large snowfields, primarily Northern Europe, Canada, Alaska and the upper midwest United States. Skiing can also be done indoor in ski tunnels.

Cross-country skiing is part of the Nordic skiing sport family, which also includes ski jumping, and a combination sport of cross-country skiing and ski jumping called Nordic combined. Free-technique cross-country skiing is also the method of locomotion in the combination sport of Biathlon, which adds rifle marksmanship to skiing.

As a sport, cross-country skiing is one of the most difficult endurance sports, as its motions use every major muscle group and it (along with running, rowing and swimming) is one of the sports that burn the most calories per hour in execution. Modern cross-country ski competition is experiencing a revolution that is resulting in greater compatibility with audiences which began with the addition of the Sprint event to the World Cup and Olympic competitions. Today more and more races are being held in audience friendly formats, such as mass start, sprint, relay and pursuit (a race that involves switching skis and styles halfway through the race). The modern events in which athletes compete in at the World Cup and Olympics are (distances presented in Female/Male format): 1 km Sprint, 2X1 km Team Sprint, 10 km/15 km Individual Start, 15 km/30 km Pursuit, 30 km/50 km Mass Start, and 4x5 km/4x10 km Relay.

Today, there are several types of cross-country competitive events, involving races of various types and lengths, as well as biathlon, involving a combination of cross-country skiing and target shooting with a rifle.

The Winter Olympics, the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, and the FIS World Cup events (including the Holmenkollen) have long been a showcase for the world's fastest cross country skiers. There are also special distance ski races, sometimes called ski marathons, like Vasaloppet in Sweden, Birkebeineren in Norway, the Canadian Birkebeiner and the American Birkebeiner and the Tug Hill Tourathon in the US. The skiing styles in these races might be fixed, or, in case of the so-called "double pursuit" event, the two styles are used each in their own separate half of the race (with a change of equipment in "pit stops" half way through).

The Canadian Ski Marathon, despite its name, is not a race, but a tour, the world's longest, at 160 km. The skiers choose their distance challenge and try to accomplish it. The highest honour, the Coureur de Bois Gold, is given to those who ski the entire distance and camp out overnight, bringing all their food and gear with them in a big backpack.

Since 2005, one of the world's longest cross country skiing races has been held in Forestville, Quebec, Canada. The Boreal Loppet has a race loop of 100 km.

Cross-country skiing originated in Fennoscandian countries in prehistoric times. It was still widely practiced in 19th century as a way of moving from place to place in winter. Elk, deer and other animals were hunted by skiing. Nowadays almost everyone in countries with strong cross-country skiing traditions — like Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia — have used or regularly use skis.

By contrast skiing is relatively new in North America and was introduced by Norwegian and Swedish immigrants in the 1850s. Snowshoe Thompson is widely credited for introducing the sport to California in the USA. In Canada pioneers included Aldolf Olsen, Sigurd and Hans Lockeberg and Jackrabbit Johannsen.

In Canada, although Johannsen never claimed to be the first skier in Canada, he had a major role in stimulating an interest in the sport throughout Canada. He organized races, officiated events, and served as a guide, coach, and consultant for numerous skiing organizations, many of which he helped to found. An enthusiastic teacher, he helped coach Canada's Olympic team in 1932. At the age of 55, he shocked his Canadian Olympic pupils as he accompanied the team step by step through its rigorous training schedule--and still he had energy to spare. This was, however, still quite far from being the twilight of Jackrabbit's incredible skiing career, as he didn't ski his last official race until the age of 75, and still glided through the snowy woods on a daily basis well past the age of 100.

This form of skiing has been used by explorers as a means of transport, and all Nordic armies have ski-trained infantry for winter operations. Skis gave important mobility to the Finnish army during the Winter War and allowed the small groups of Finns to beat large armies of Russians. Similar tactics that utilize skis have been used in many times by the Finns and Karelians in the past. Pre-modern skiing troops were armed with crossbows and ski poles which had a spearhead on the other end.

Traditionally, all of the equipment was made of natural materials: wooden skis and bamboo poles with leather hand straps. Footwear was usually sturdy leather boots with thick soles. Bindings evolved from simple straps made of twisted wood-based thread, to the so-called Kandahar binding with the fastening of both the boot’s front and back, to the ‘Rat Trap’ front-only binding, which is today known as the Nordic norm, and has evolved in various modern bindings.

The skis are long and thin, to distribute the weight of the skier and allow the skier to move quickly. Typical ski dimensions are 2 metres in length, about 5 centimetres in width and one to four centimetres in thickness at different stations along the length of the ski. Depending on the ski design and purpose, they are fit to the skier based on height and weight. Cross country skis are sometimes informally known as "skinny skis" because of their thinness compared to alpine skis.

Like alpine skiing, cross-country skiers carry two poles, usually made of aluminium or fiberglass. More expensive poles are made of graphite or carbon fiber or some other strong but lightweight material. Poles have a spike at the end to provide a fixed pivot when the pole penetrates through to a hard surface, and a plastic web or disc (called the basket), to provide extra purchase in snow and to ensure the pole doesn't sink too deeply.

The toe of the skier's footwear is attached to the ski with a binding, while the heel remains free.

Equipment differs according to skiing technique. Skating or freestyle poles are usually longer than those used for the classic technique.

Older styled three-pin bindings (Nordic Norm), with or without cables, are still used by backcountry and Telemarking enthusiasts.

Further variants to NNN and SNS are "BC" (back-country) standards, where the toe hold in the binding is wider and the bar in the boot's toe is longer and thicker in order to give further lateral rigidity. This added strength and rigidity is especially important with the stiffer boots and heavier skis used in backcountry skiing.

The existing variety of binding systems, none of which are compatible with the other, has long since been a source of frustration for skiers ever since manufacturers diverged from the almost universal three-pin standard. Whereas downhill skiing has a common binding system allowing any boot to work with any binding short of the dynafit-system, modern cross-country skiers must match the skis' binding system to the boot type. When it is time to change the boot, the skier must either be limited to boots of the same binding system or also change the skis' binding.

Rottefella developed the New Nordic Norm (NNN) binding, and licenses it to Rossignol, Madshus,and, beginning in 2007, Fischer. These bindings have subtypes, such as the NNN-BC for backcountry use, the R3 Skate, the R3 Classic, and the R4 NIS (Nordic Integrated System). The NIS system requires skis that have a permanently bonded plate that the binding slides onto. This allows for the skier to mount their own bindings without needing to screw into the ski. By doing this the skier can easily tune the position of the binding relative to the center of gravity of the ski, said to be useful in different snow conditions. NNN boots are made by Alpina Sports, Madshus, Rossignol and beginning in 2007, Fischer. The R3 and R4 are generally the choice for World Cup Racers using NNN. These are distinguished from the SNS (Salomon and Atomic) binding in that all NNN bindings have two longitudinal ridges that stick out from the bottom of the binding that mate with corresponding slots in NNN boots. There is much debate over which is the superior binding system: SNS or NNN. Overall, the differences between the NNN and SNS binding systems are minuscule to the average skier; the choice should come down to which binding fits with the boot that happens to fit a given skier.

The R4 NIS binding, made by Rottefella and Rossignol, is the newest variant of the NNN binding. These bindings are compatible with any NNN boot, but can only be used on skis that come with the permanently bonded plate, presently made only by Rossignol, Madshus, and Fischer. The NIS binding made its debut to the general public in 2005.

Salomon Nordic System (SNS) bindings, made by Salomon and Atomic, however, have their advantages too. Boots that are compatible with the SNS Profil system are made by Salomon, Atomic, Adidas, Hartjes and Botas. SNS Profil bindings are used for both Skating and Classic. As opposed to the SNS Pilot's two axes, these boots have only one axis at the front of the sole. Pilots are used by many different racers on the World Cup Circuit. Profil bindings are the standard binding for SNS users, its only competition being the SNS Pilot system. Profil comes in "Equipe" models for racing, "Active" for recreational racing/combination, Auto Touring, and Back Country. Fischer was for many years synonymous with SNS as well, but switched to the more widley used NNN for the 2007/2008 season and beyond.

SNS Pilot bindings, compatible with Salomon, Atomic, Adidas and Hartjes boots. As of the 2006/2007 season, Atomic will also have SNS pilot on their boots. The idea for these bindings came from Bjørn Dæhlie. Pilots are used mostly by elite skiers at the Collegiate/Olympians/World Cup/National level, although it is common to find High School/Citizen Racers with these bindings and their counterpart boots. Pilots are more expensive than Profils at about 100 dollars for a pair, and have two completely different designs for skate skiing and classical skiing. In Pilot boots, two axes (metal bars), one positioned about 1" (2.5 cm) behind the other, click into two different slots in the Pilot binding. Profil boots only have one axis and therefore cannot fit into Pilot bindings. However, Pilot boots can fit into most Profil bindings, due to a small space behind the front of the boot for the other axis. Pilot Skate bindings are superior to Profil due to the two latches reducing ski motion in the air. The Pilot Classic (released at the end of the 2005-2006 season) doesn't have the bumper found on all NNN and SNS Profil bindings. These new boots and bindings provide a superior subtle kick through a spring loaded back slot for the back axis. Unlike the rubber bumpers, this spring has adjustable tension that can be changed in different snow conditions. Fischer has now started producing their new boots with the NNN system.

There are a wide variety of waxes for Nordic Skiing. The waxes can be classified into four main categories: glide waxes, kick waxes, klisters and waxtapes.

Glide waxes are used to make a ski glide faster, and are applied by ironing onto the ski. Glide waxes range widely in price, depending on quality; racing waxes can be very expensive, over $100 for a 60 gram block of wax. They are generally in the form of blocks, though they can be found as powders or liquids. Glide waxes are applied outside the kick zone of classic skis, or to the full length of skate skis. They are the only type of wax used on skating skis.

The purpose of kick wax is to provide grip on snow when weight is transferred on a ski; they are used on classic skis only. Kick waxes are applied in the kick zone of classic skis if the ski is not a fish-scale, waxless ski.

Kick waxes are classified according to their hardness: harder waxes are for colder and newer snow. Using a wax that is too hard will not give sufficient grip, while wax that is too soft will cause the formation of an ice sole that slows the skier down. It is not uncommon to apply a new layer of wax if the weather changes, or when moving in altitude.

Difficulty of choosing correct kick waxes to different conditions is nowadays greatly reduced by grip wax tapes, which have a wide temperature range, and are easily applied to the ski bottom. Although these are not used by competitors, who prefer the optimum waxing, they have proven to be quite suitable for fitness and recreational purposes. Many high-level competitive teams have "wax technicians" whose job is to apply the ideal wax combinations for the conditions.

Kick waxes generate grip by penetrating into the snowflakes when the skier puts his weight on the ski. Colder snowflakes are harder, and so is newly fallen snow. The most appropriate wax is the one that is soft enough to generate grip, but also hard enough not to accumulate snow and create a sole.

Waxes are usually colour-coded by usage temperature: the most common are red for above 0˚C, and blue for below. There are many other colours for more specific temperature ranges, for instance violet for around 0˚C, green for below -10˚C, and white for below -15˚C. The snow-temperature range given by the producer must be taken with a grain of salt, since new snow will require a harder wax.

Guessing the right hardness can be quite difficult, and the varying condition of the snow can make the right choice wrong after a few hundred metres. Furthermore, the snow in the beaten track is usually much different from the one immediately surrounding it, and works best with a softer wax. If skis are poorly tuned, sometimes the skier can solve thin snow soles caused by a soft wax by beating the ski on the track after kicking; the opposite problem may be handled by skating. One way around the problems of standard grip wax is to use a wax grip tape, which is applied to the kick zone of the ski in tape form. The tape can last for 100-200 km, has a very wide temp range (-20C to +5C), and can be left on the ski at the end of the day and stored by covering in waxed paper.

As the snow becomes older and snow flakes lose their sharpness, in case of re-freezing or of water, kick wax cannot provide any more grip, and it becomes useless. One must therefore resort to klister, which is basically a glue-like paste ("klister" actually means "glue" or "paste" across all Scandinavian countries). Klister is discouraging for amateurs, as it is very sticky, it is easy to apply but very difficult to remove.

Professionals often maintain that klister is best applied with the palm of the hand, the hand can be cleaned by placing it in a glove and waiting while the klister is removed by a combination of sweat and friction between your hand and the fabric of the glove; amateurs often resort to some object of the appropriate size. Since klister is a non-polar substance, a non-polar solvent (such as mineral spirits) or a soap is necessary to remove it. Stores often sell purpose-made solvent to clean skis. These should be used with care, as they are both flammable and toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Klister is also colour-coded: red, purple, blue and silver.

In recent years, waxless skis have carved a niche in the market among casual skiers. Waxless skis have a fish scale, cross-hatched or ridged pattern in the kick zone to provide grip. A waxless ski is inferior to a finely tuned waxed ski, but does not require the sometimes time-consuming and sometimes costly selection and application of kick wax or klister and will work between temperatures, an important advantage in areas with many sun/shadow boundaries. Some skiers apply a layer of glide wax to keep them sliding smoothly and protecting the surface from dirt and ice build-up. There are specialty liquid wax products on the market manufactured for waxless skis, though standard glide wax can also be used on the tips and tails of the ski.

Waxless skis are better suited to recreational skiers who simply want to get out on the trail with minimal time spent on maintenance, as they generally produce too much drag for competitive skiers.

Waxless skis are sometimes used by Nordic racers during variable ski conditions such as temperatures over freezing. In fact, some Nordic ski racers using waxless skis have beaten racers who used waxable skis due to the variable and changing conditions.

There are three main styles used in cross-country skiing: classic, skating and telemarking. Specially adapted equipment is available to suit each. Another style growing in popularity is skijoring. In skijoring, the skier is pulled over the snow by one or more dogs, or, alternatively, a snowmobile. Both classic and skating techniques are used by skijorers.

The classic style is often used on prepared trails (pistes) that have pairs of parallel grooves cut into the snow.

Skis have camber and should leave the centre section of the ski clear of the snow when the skiers weight is evenly distributed between the pair. The centre section of a classic ski will either have "fish scales", or ski wax that will stick to the snow (called the "kick zone" or "grip zone" of the ski). When full weight is transferred to a single ski the kick zone comes into contact with the snow. Glide wax is used on the tails and tips of the skis.

Long, narrow and light skis are usually used. When skiing away from prepared trails, a much wider ski is sometimes used. In flat regions, such as parts of Finland, skis exceeding 3 or 4 m in length are sometimes used.

On downhill slopes a tucked position (hocke, from the German word) is assumed, in a similar manner to downhill skiing.

Skate skiing involves the skier pushing one ski outward with the ski angled, so that the inner edge of the ski is driven against the snow, much like an ice skater. As in classic skiing, transferring weight completely from one ski to the next is essential to learning to skate. Those who have learned to ice skate or rollerblade may find ski skating technique easier to learn than classic skiing. The free technique in XC skiing is not to be confused with freestyle, which describes ski sport where the competitors compete over a mogul course and by performing aerial gymnastics such as spins after launching from a short ramp in the snow.

Skate skiing can be done either with skis specifically designed for skating or 'combi' skis for both skating and classic. Similarly, specialized skating boots or combi boots can be used. Skate skis tend to be shorter and stiffer than those used in classical technique, and poles longer. Neither fish scale skis nor grip wax are used.

There also exist variants of these techniques, most notably jump-skating, which involves extremely high tempo and jumping rather than gliding; generally it is used as a V-1 (offset skate) variant on short hills, but a few racers jump-skate in V-2 (1-skate) sprinting.

The term Alsgaard skate is often frequently used. This refers to skating in the style pioneered by Thomas Alsgaard. However, since very few skiers have successfully duplicated Algaard's technique, the term "Alsgaard skate" means different things to different people. Most often it refers to a technique he employed winning the 30 km freestyle race at the Lillehammer Olympics, where in place of a V-2 (1-skate) he used a technique that seemed to be a sort of compromise between V-1 (offset skate) and V-2 alternate (2-skate).

Skating style became popular during 1980s. Finnish Pauli Siitonen pioneered the style in 1970s (in 1980s skating was called "Siitonen-Schritt" after him in Germany). Siitonen had found the style useful at the middle of the race he already thought was lost. After switching to skating Siitonen managed to win the race for his own surprise. The success of Bill Koch (USA) in 1982 Cross-country Skiing Championships held in Oslo gave more attention for the skating style. In 1984 Winter Olympics of Sarajevo many competitors used an immature form of skating kicking extra speed with one feet (trail being in the middle of trace matured technique was not appropriate). This trend was yet stronger at Seefield's World Championships in 1985. Skiing Association, FIS, was confused about these developments. At Seefeld there was some attempts to keep competitors in traditional style by using plastic walls during 30 km race. However, later during that year FIS decided to start own races for traditional and skating styles. Separate traditional and free events were used already in World Championships held in Oberstdorf (1987).

Skating technique is only suitable for use on prepared trails (pistes), firm and smooth snow or snow crust and frozen snow-covered lakes or rivers.

Skating is faster and different muscular exercise than classic skiing, except in extremely cold conditions where classic skiing may approach skating in speed. Adoption of the skating technique varies from country to country. In some countries the majority of non-professional racers now skate, although top skiers continue to learn and train in both styles.

The distinction between classic technique and free technique is made in competition i.e. a race will be designated as classic or free. In the case of the former only those propulsion techniques that are considered 'classic' are allowed whereas in the latter the competitors are free to use any technique although the majority of competitors will opt to skate. Large races will often have both skate and classic divisions and award prizes in both categories.

Recent developments in the sport include "pursuit" races where the competitors complete the first part of the event using the classic technique and the second part using the free technique.

The Telemark technique is particularly suited to backcountry skiing (off-piste cross-country skiing). While first and foremost it is a technique for descending, for those with dedicated equipment it is effectively a separate branch of skiing that generally takes place in the backcountry.

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Source : Wikipedia