Anne-Marie has a question; beginner skiers take note

With all the entries/comments coming in for the Fischer skis contest, Anne-Marie’s question got buried, so here it is again, and I’m expecting some good answers from my readers. 

“Hi! I would like to start getting in to cross country skiing this year. I’ve done some in the past and have done lots of downhill, so I’m not a complete beginner but I’m not sure where to start for gear. I don’t know much about x-country skis other than fishscale vs wax. How does sizing work? What other factors do I need to consider? Are there any good rental locations where I could try some out? Any places that sell used? Thanks in advance!”

On the sidebar, under Categories, there is a heading entitled Beginner Skiers which will link you to a number of posts that may be helpful. 


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  1. Hello Anne-Marie,

    You’ve been given great advice from very experienced skiers. I can only add one thing that I haven’t seen in the responses. Take a few lessons and take them under very stable conditions. There are great people at CNC, for example, who can get you started with proper technique that will make skiing much more enjoyable and efficient. Many ski clubs have programmes for adults and these can also get you started “on the right track”. Once you begin to ski badly, it’s much harder to correct your mistakes compared to learning good technique early on.

    Most importantly, have fun. A friend made a comment to me today that I think is both accurate and telling. XC skiers look HAPPY! That’s not so true for downhill or backcountry skiers. I enjoy all kinds of skiing but I agree that XC brings contentment.

  2. I also encourage you to visit Kim’s site. It has tons of great information and she’s the best!

    I would suggest renting waxless skis at Wilson’s in Lake Louise and trying out the Great Divide Trail just past Moraine Lake Road. It is very gentle terrain and always in great shape. No better place to get comfortable.

    I would also suggest forcing yourself to go at least three times within a short period. This will allow you to “get over the hump” and get a real sense of what it is all about. Only once your comfort zones rises a bit will you understand how magical XC skiing can be. It could change your life!!

    Good luck.

  3. While I always did it as a kid, and a bit in my teens, when I got back into it when I turned 30, I took the U of C “B” course. It was fairly friendly to all ability levels. It was good in that it really improved my technique and comfort level.

  4. Ken and Willie are spot on. Fist things first – the boots have to fit well. Don’t worry about brand or how stylish they are – if your feet hurt you won’t ski. All the local shops are super helpful and no one should make you feel awkward. Norseman, Lifesport and Trail Sports at Canmore Nordic Centre. Trail Sports does rentals for sure and will let you try out/demo some good quality skis as well.

    Kim McKenney was my coach with the UofC Learn to Loppet program before she started her on-line coaching through She is brilliant and her web site is a treasure trove of info for the novice and experienced skier alike.

    Those hints will get you started. You are already doing the right things if you are following Bob’s blog. Looking forward to seeing you on the trails.

  5. Cross country skiing is a bit different than downhill. You can go downhill on pretty much anything, even 2 by 4 would do in a pinch. In classic skiing you need a pair off skis that will much your height and foremost your weight. You want skis to be like your wedding dress, you want them to be perfect for you. There are videos on YouTube that explain how fitting is done. Watch this
    Now ask yourself, what are the chances you will find the used skis that will much you? Chances are very slim. Therefore I would recommend you to go to a ski shop to get fitted correctly. Now if you want to save some money, try last year equipment. It will perform just as good but at much lower price.
    MEC has some good deals right now on boots. I recommend these, good price and performance and on sale.
    Stick to NNN standard( Salomon name Prolink) because SNS has lost the battle. Renting is also an option and available at Trailsports in Canmore Nordic Center.

  6. Hi,
    Glad to hear you want to get into X-C skiing. You might want to check out Kim McKenney’s free site that tells all about X-C skiing. Its

    Have fun!

  7. For me, the most important piece of equipment, is my boots. If your feet hurt and/or get cold, you won’t enjoy yourself. Go to SnowTips in Banff and tell them you saw their add on Skier Bob (It’s up there on the right). Rent a different set up each time while you learn what pleases you the most.

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