Cross Country Skate Skiing- Day Off From Downhill

Nancy on course

Do you –
Want a day off from downhill skiing?
Want to cross train and use different muscle groups?
Have a friend who doesn’t downhill ski that you want to spend time with?

Day PassAll of the above applied to me so I made a reservation for two for cross country skate ski lessons with White Pine Touring Company.  Since I don’t cross country ski, I assumed skate skiing would be a challenge to learn but a great workout so the learning curve would be worth the effort.

Surprisingly, we were able to learn the basics in an hour and ski the 3 kilometer track the same day!  I went from what looked like a duck walk to a basic skate with the help of the instructor, Don.  As often happens in Park City, Don was more than meets the eye. He is a cross country ski instructor on the weekends and during the week he is a paleontologist (dinosaur expert) for the State of Utah.  In other words, Don is an interesting guy.

InstructorHe took us to a well groomed teaching area (that doubles as the driving range of the Park City Municipal Golf Course in the summer) and taught us to skate on long skinny skis. He suggested, “glide like Dorothy Hamill!” I tried but looked more like Daffy Duck.  After a few “back and forths”, the glide became more pronounced.

It took me a while to get the concept and get used to the different style of skis – like skiing on toothpicks!  It started to click for me when Don had us put one ski in the classic track going straight which enabled us to focus on pushing off with the other leg skating at an angle.

InstructionAfter an hour, we had the basics down and were cut loose to ski on the beautifully groomed track on the front nine of the golf course.  The course had some gentle hills which gave us enough of a challenge as a beginner but not too much to be frustrating.  We skated the 3K and at the end, I was dripping with sweat, could feel every muscle in my body, and was absolutely in love with skate skiing.

Skate skiing isn’t for everyone. In my personal opinion, you don’t have to be in top physical shape but at least be in good shape. It is physically challenging getting up the hills. This wouldn’t be the sport to go from “couch to skate ski.” It would also be best for groomed trails since it would be really tough to cut a trail using this method. So if this is an intro to the sport of cross country or you are a back country person, stick with classic cross country.

LessonTake a lesson. I assume you could learn skate skiing on your own, but why? It was much easier taking a lesson. If you are open to feedback and want to learn something new, skate skiing could be your new sport.

Oh another thing… if you want to eat an entire pizza all by yourself afterwards and not gain an ounce, take up this sport because it burns about twice the calories of downhill skiing!

For more information on cross country skiing in Park City, call White Pine Touring at 435-649-6249 or by email,

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