Cross Country (XC) Skis are one branch of the Nordic Ski family. We’ll try to narrow things down a bit. The first thing we’ll do is eliminate any discussion about ski jumping!
Classic vs. Skate Skiing
Classic skiing involves a motion that mimics walking with the skier striding in a straight line. Skate skiing uses a motion that resembles ice skating using a combination of the ski’s edges and the skiers poles for propulsion.
At Sport Swap, we specialize on Classic XC skiing. We do not carry Skate Skis.
Wax vs. Waxless.
The bases of Classic XC skis consist of two zones, the kick zone and the glide zones. The glide zones are at the tip and tail of the ski and as the name indicates these areas glide across the snow. The kick zone is directly under the boot. The kick zones job is to stick to the snow so you can push against the snow for propulsion.
Wax skis requires two different waxes with two specific properties to work properly. The tip and tail of the skis need frictionless wax to allow the skis to glide smoothly. Conversely the kick zone needs wax that does the opposite, the traction in the kick zone is provided by a properly chosen grip wax.
Waxless skis can still be waxed at the tip and tail for smooth glide but traction in the kick zone is provided by mechanical grip. The kick zone has a texture, often described at fish scales, that grips the snow without the need of a special wax treatment.
Sport Swap sells classic waxless skis.
Cross Country Boots and Bindings
Cross country ski bindings require specific boots to operate properly.
Many skiers may remember the 3-pin bindings and boots that were popular decades ago. In the intervening years many manufacturers have tried to reinvent the mousetrap and many XC binding systems have come and gone.
Fortunately we are at a point where one system has become more or less the standard: NNN or Salomon’s equivalent Prolink system.
Prolink boots and bindings are compatible with NNN boots and bindings.
Cross Country Poles
For classic skiing, XC poles should reach the skier’s collarbone.
If you want to get scientific about it, you can take the skier’s height in centimetres and multiply that measurement by 0.83 to find the proper length. If the calculation falls between two sizes choose the longer length.