My friend Niclas from the Seefeld Region Tourist Office invited me to try cross-country skiing. He convinced me to finally try my hand with the long and narrow skis.
Cross-Country skiing in Seefeld is one of the true gems of winter. It is not only a fantastic way of staying fit but also one of the best sports to discover the beautiful alpine landscape in Tirol.
Seefeld is the “postcard pretty” Austria that you have in your mind, an old farming village in Innsbruck-Land District in the Austrian state of Tirol. The Wildsee, also called the Seefelder See ("Lake Seefeld"), gave the village its name.
The Seefeld Region with its villages of Mösern, Scharnitz, Reith, Leutasch, and Seefeld, is nestled on a south-facing high plateau at 1,200 m, surrounded by the Karwendel Nature Park.
Seefeld is a winter wonderland for Nordic skiing, with 245-kilometre network of cross-country skiing trails. The region is one of the ten "Tiroler Langlaufspezialisten", a group of cross-country ski areas in Tirol that have received the prestigious "Loipengütesiegel" award from the regional government in recognition of their outstanding cross-country skiing infrastructure.
There are peaceful, beautiful trails for every level of skier.
Cross-country skiing is a sport often stands in the shadow of its bigger brother, Alpine Skiing. But cross-country skiing is the oldest type of skiing.
The birth of skiing is traditionally associated with Norway. Rock carvings dating back to 4000 B.C. representing skiers have been found across the country. The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway refers to several skiers’ testimonies. The first Norwegian army ski companies were created around 1750 in Trondheim and Kongvingen. The first military ski competition took place a few years later, in 1767. Other countries like France or Italy followed the Norwegian example and created their first ski companies. The first Austrian ski company was created in 1892.
Skiing emerged from a need to travel over snow-covered terrain and developed as a sport at the end of the 19th century.
Modern cross-country skiing is similar to the original form of skiing, from which all skiing disciplines evolved, including alpine skiing, ski jumping and Telemark skiing.
There are two techniques of cross-country skiing: Classic and Skate.
Classic skiing is just like running or walking on skis. Using the older classical technique, a skier travels with skis parallel and kicking backward to create a gliding motion across the snow.
With the skate skiing technique a skier slides on alternating skis on a firm snow surface at an angle from each other in a manner similar to ice skating. Both techniques employ poles with baskets that allow the arms to participate in the propulsion.
Many trainers, and our Instructor Andrea agrees, think that classic cross-country skiing, is the best way to get acquainted with your cross-country skis.
The skis used are longer, narrower, and lighter than those used in Alpine Skiing.
In terms of technique, Classic Skiing is the most simple and accessible for beginners. This technique can be applied both on groomed trails and off-trail and consists of a parallel gliding style that’s comparable to an everyday walking stride.
First we took our first unsteady steps on to the trail in one ski and learned to adopt the perfect stance. We practice going back and forth until we had felt steady on each leg.
The next step was to began a slow shuffle on the tracks, like a small steps slow walk. And suddenly, with the right cadence, we found ourselves gliding for a short distance.
Then we did a few exercises with the two skis on and with the poles.
We added a push with the pole opposite the ski on which your weight is centered and magically we were doing the basic diagonal stride of cross-country skiing. After a few strides the flow set in.
Cross-country skiing is a sport of balance and coordination, but it's also about finding the right rhythm. Once you manage to coordinate the use of the poles with a simultaneous take off with the foot, you must find your rhythm and you will be in the flow, moving forward and enjoying it.
Then we try to learn how to climb and descend the trails, and more importantly how to brake. We learnt we must never put the poles out in front to slow down, if you need to brake you must take a ski off the track and do the half plow (honestly, not easy...specially the first times).
After my first day I realise that cross-country skiing is the sport that I've always been looking for to complement my love for Alpine Skiing. It's a form of exercise that activates the whole body, one of the finest cardio exercises among winter sports. It is unquestionably one of the healthiest ways to keep you fit. At the same time cross-country in a winter paradise like the Seefeld Region is one of the best ways to keep you mentally fit while also connecting with nature. Cross-country brings you such an outstanding experience exploring beautiful winter landscapes.
*We want to thank you our instructor Andrea Szabados from Snow Fun Seefeld, for her time and patient to guide and make us learn the first steps of this wonderful sport that provides a great workout and lots of fun. Danke Andrea ;-)