Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
I started skiing in Sun Valley at the age of 4-on alpine skis. I trained as an alpine racer until I was 13, but switched to nordic because I was a lot better at it.
I still love to alpine ski as often as I can, and I’m much better at alpine because of my cross-country skiing.
Skiing on narrow cross-country race skis is like walking a tightrope, so when I get on my alpine gear I feel perfectly balanced and bombproof. Narrow skis and lightweight boots also teach you how to sense the snow underfoot and how to glide. Gliding translates to riding a flat ski, which is how you go fast on any type of skis.
Cross-country also teaches you how to find and use your edges. I’m known as one of the best in the downhill sections on the World Cup cross-country circuit, because I know how to edge. In alpine, knowing how to work your edges is the difference between crisp, carved turns and skidded ones.
As in alpine, to excel in cross-country, you need to be able to direct the strength in your upper body and hips directly to your legs. There’s no room for unnecessary twisting and turning, because that can disrupt the chain of power.
If you want to skate easily across flats, power out of a starting gate and use your poles to accelerate, spend more time on “skinny skis.” You’ll benefit in many ways: The aerobic training will allow you to ski longer and harder when you visit a high-altitude Western resort. And cross-country isn’t only good for your technique and endurance-it’s good for life in general. It strengthens your heart and swells your winter soul.
Have an instruction question? Email Stu Campbell at email@example.com.