Grand County Health and Fitness: Nordic skiing best winter exercise for total body fitness |

Grand County Health and Fitness: Nordic skiing best winter exercise for total body fitness

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Cross-country skiing is without a doubt one of the best fitness activities you can find, and you can’t find a better place to do it than Grand County.

Also known as Nordic skiing, cross-country is an excellent fitness technique that conditions the whole body. It is exceptionally good for developing aerobic fitness, but unlike running, it is low-impact on the joints.

For decades, exercise physiologists have placed cross-country skiing as one of the top aerobic activities that can be done. In fact, one Nordic ski racer has recorded the highest-ever aerobic capacity for an athlete at 800 ml/kg/mn.

But while the sport can really help one achieve his or her absolute physical potential, it can also be enjoyed by those who don’t want to push themselves too hard or have relatively low skill levels.

For both the serious athlete and the average person who just wants to stay in shape, cross-country skiing is a great overall conditioning activity. Arms, legs and the trunk of the body all being used in about equal measure while skiing.

Unlike Alpine skiing which depends upon gravity to slide downhill, Nordic skiers must be able propel themselves 80 to 90 percent of the time over the snow. In addition to being able to ski downhill, cross-country skiers also ski across flat ground and uphill. There are no chairlifts in cross-country skiing.

All this physical activity demands a great deal of energy that burns a lot of calories. It has been estimated that someone Nordic skiing at a continuous rate for two-and-a-half hours can burn up to 3,000 calories.

Cross-country skiing is also a relatively safe sport with fewer stress-related injuries than many sports. It produces impact forces of about 1.5 times body weight on the joints compared to 3.5 times body weight during running. Nordic skiing’s injury rate is 10 times less than that of Alpine skiing.

And to top it all off, it’s a lot of fun. It gets you off the couch and outdoors in the fresh air on crisp winter days. An estimated seven million Americans participate in the sport every winter.

What’s even better for residents and visitors to Grand County is that this area is one of the best places in North America to enjoy cross-country skiing. With almost five months of adequate snow annually at the county’s lower levels, the opportunities of enjoy the sport are plentiful.

In addition to the great snow conditions, Grand County has several resorts with groomed trails that specifically cater to Nordic skiers.

Some of the top resorts are the Devil’s Thumb Cross Country Center near Tabernash

that offers a 120-kilometer trail system while the Nordic Center at Snow Mountain Ranch has 100 kilometers of packed and tracked trails. Both are nationally and internationally recognized for hosting major Nordic skiing competitions.

Other great places to Nordic ski include the Grand Lake Touring Center which has a 35-kilometer trail system. SolVista Basin, which is an Alpine ski area in Granby, also offers 30 kilometers of cross-country ski trails.

In the Kremmling area, Latigo Ranch is a destination resort near Gore Pass. It offers 50 kilometers of trails for cross-country trails for its guests and residents of Kremmling.

Grand County also has hundreds of miles of trails in the backcountry for cross-country skiers to explore and enjoy. But before going backcountry skiing, always remember to be fully prepared for all conditions and check with local authorities for potential avalanche areas.

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