Practice On A Prepared Trail
Any designated cross country skiing area should have smooth, groomed trails, often with two tracks to slot your skis into. This is the best way to learn cross country skiing. Skiing off the trails, or « back country » skiing, requires significantly more effort, and is only recommended once you are comfortable on the trails, and have a heavy-duty pair of skis.
If you are not at a prepared skiing area, pick a flat area of powdery snow with no obstacles. Stand on flat ground with your skis parallel to each other. Bend forward at the ankles, and slightly at your knees. Keep your torso straight, not bending at the hips. This position helps keep you balanced, with your weight over your feet. The « classic » cross country skiing described above is how most people learn to cross country ski. Skate skiing is best for athletic skiers interested in faster movement or racing, or for people with experience ice skating or roller skating. Skate skiing involve powerful, angled motions of the skis to provide a faster boost. This is rarely possible away from groomed trails, with a firm snow surface. Specialized skate skis are also helpful for providing additional strength and control, although you may attempt to skate ski on ordinary cross-country skis.
Keep the skis pointed outward in front of you in a V position. Turn your right foot onto your little toe, setting the outward edge of your skis against the snow. Rotate your ankle as you push gently against the snow, so the ski returns to a flat position ready to glide forward. Bring your right foot back into its original position, then practice this motion a few times with each foot. Once you can repeat the gliding motion, practice the « V-1 » skate skiing motion. To do this, plant both poles into the snow at the same time one of your feet lands on the snow. Your remaining foot hits the snow while your poles are up in the air.
To turn, all you have to do is point your feet (and your skis) in the direction you want to travel. For a strong « parallel turn », push the « outside » ski away from the body keeping it parallel to the direction of travel. You and your skis will turn. For an extra smooth « carved » turn, tilt the outside ski’s ankle to bite its ski’s inside edge into the snow and ride on a banked turn. You should feel the ski cutting into the snow to generate the turning force, rather than sliding sideways over the snow. If you want to stop while turning, keep your feet in the plow position and turn across and slightly up the hill. You will come to a slow stop.