What is Nordic skiing?
Nordic skiing has been a common winter activity in most Scandinavian countries for decades and is now becoming more and more popular in the Alps and other mountainous regions. It is the perfect mix between cross-country skiing and ski touring/moutaineering, allowing lucky users to go off piste in the foothills of the mountains and feel the freedom of skiing in the wild.
The equipment for Nordic skiing is a little bit heavier than for its cross-country counterpart, as the skis are more robust than the thin (and often highly technical) cross-country skis. Nordic skiing boots, both warm and light, are very comfortable. The heel of the boot is not fixed to the ski, thus providing a better flexibility.
As for the skis, they are slightly wider than cross-country skis and their edges are sharper, which results in improved stability on all types of snow. There are light scales underneath the Nordic skis for gripping when you are going uphill, which is sufficient for the steepness of slopes possible on Nordic skis.
Sometimes for slightly steeper slopes, skins can be used for extra grip. For going higher into the mountains or on steeper slopes, it is recommended you use ski touring equipment (this is a different ski discipline requiring good level of downhill skiing with off piste experience).
The technique is very similar to classic cross-country skiing, sliding each foot forward and using the poles to help propel you. Going downhill is similar to downhill skiing but obviously on gentler slopes and in a variety of different snow conditions. Nordic skis will even enable you to try some gentle ‘telemark’ on the way down!
This combination is the perfect recipe for some fun and adventure in the Alpine valleys without the hassle of having to follow pistes. Please bear in mind that as you will be going off piste, you do need a knowledge of mountain safety as there is still a real risk of avalanche. For peace of mind, we highly recommend that you go with a guide.