“Cross-country skiers live longer.” This popular German saying draws attention to the value many people see in the winter sport of cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Indeed, in many lands where winter snow abounds, the winter countryside is often crisscrossed by a grid work of ski trails. In some lands, distances between towns and villages are often posted, and many trails even have artificial lighting so that skiers can use them to commute between home and work. Isn’t that cool?
Practiced by relatively few before the 1960’s, cross-country skiing has in recent years become popular in many places throughout the world. Some estimate that as many as five million people a year enjoy the sport in North America alone! What is the secret of its appeal and charm? Its low cost and apparent simplicity. Compared with its better-known cousin—Alpine, or downhill, skiing—some aspects of cross-country skiing are uncomplicated.
The downhill skier needs specialized, costly equipment and clothing. He has to travel to specially maintained ski hills or mountains where he may be confronted with both the purchase of expensive lift tickets and long lines for the ski lift. Downhill skiing and ski jumping also demands a certain athleticism that may be beyond the grasp of many beginners. However, don’t despair not everyone will go on to become a professional in the sport. If you do practice though, ski jumping can be extremely invigorating and very thrilling. Cross-country skiing, on the other hand, can be enjoyed by virtually anyone at any age. The only things needed are a few inches of fresh snow, a little training, and relatively inexpensive skis, ski boots, and ski poles.
Whichever one you choose both cross-country skiing and ski jumping can be an exhilarating experience! The skier can go virtually wherever he wishes—through fields and meadows, over frozen lakes and icebound streams, into silent forests and snow-covered valleys. Cross-country skiing can lend itself to meditation, reflection, and thought, which can give us a chance to improve ourselves and become more grounded.
Winter puts a unique stamp on the forest. A glistening blanket of snow brings a hush to the landscape. The earth seems fresh and clean, as if awaiting discovery. Gliding through a forest, the trees laden with frost, is soothing to the heart and mind. The stridency of our mechanical world fades away, and soon the only sound is the whooshing of skis.