Activity 76/150

Cross Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is widely practised as a sport and recreational activity where skiers rely on their own power (not gravity) to move across snow-covered ground.


The word ski comes from the Norwegian word "skíð" meaning stick of wood and began almost five thousand years ago in Scandinavia as a way to travel cross-country over snow. By the mid-1800s cross-country skiing had evolved from a means of transportation to being a world-wide recreational activity and sport.

Cross-country skiing is enjoyed in northern countries with a propensity for snow and can be enjoyed in the forest or on a groomed track.

How to play
Skiing can be done alone or in a group. There are two main techniques to cross-country skiing: classic and skate skiing. Both techniques require wax on the surface of the skis that allows skiers to push forward on snow alternating their stride leg to leg. Skiers have poles that can be used simultaneously or alternately. Skiers with reduced limb mobility can use a sled called a sit ski. For more information visit Cross Country Canada.
With classic skiing, the skis are parallel and pushed forward in a striding and gliding motion. Skate skiers propel themselves using a V-shaped stride to glide across the snow.

There are several variations to try including skijoring and biathlon. Skijoring is similar to dog sledding but on skis. Biathlon is a multi-discipline sport that combines skiing and target shooting.

Suggested equipment
- Winter Clothing
- Ski Boots
- Gloves
- Hat
- Skis (Classic or Skate)

Physical activity in Canada includes everyone, regardless of any ability or circumstance. Some sports and activities may, however, require a few adaptations to make them as accessible as possible. Below you’ll find recommendations and suggestions on how to accommodate individuals that may have limitations or different needs. With a positive attitude and a little ingenuity, any activity can be made enjoyable for all.


Cross country skiing can be enjoyed by individuals with visual impairments by providing a few modifications. Skiers can be accompanied with a guide to provide direction. Ensure that there are no obstacles on the trails. Individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing require no modifications except alternate communication methods.

Learning/Cognitive Disabilities

Cross country skiing is a very enjoyable sport for all. Participants all learn at different rates so it is important to use lots of practice, demonstration and clear instructions. Positive reinforcement and one-on-one learning may help with success.

Mobility Limitation

There are several ways to enjoy cross country skiing. There are alternative skis that can be used such as a sit ski sledge and sit ski poles. Other adaptations to the activity are to reduce the distance, lessen the intensity and ski at a pace comfortable for participants.


Benefits of Cross Country Skiing

The Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines outline the amount and type of physical activity you need at every age and stage of life. And, for the first time, the new 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children & Youth also include sleep. Following the guidelines will help reduce the risk of chronic disease, lead to a more focused mind, a stronger, fitter body, and all in all, a more enjoyable life.

See Benefits and Guidelines

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Michelle Murray
Communications Coordinator