Nordic skiing encompasses the various types of skiing in which the toe of the ski boot is fixed to the binding in a manner that allows the heel to rise off the ski,[1] unlike Alpine skiing, where the boot is attached to the ski from toe to heel. Recreational disciplines include cross-country skiing and Telemark skiing.

Olympic events are competitive cross-country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon and Nordic combined—competition in which athletes both cross-country ski and ski jump. The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships host these sports, plus Telemark skiing,[2] at the championship level in the winter of every odd-numbered year.[3] Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, but is not included as a Nordic discipline under the rules of the International Ski Federation (FIS). Instead, it comes under the jurisdiction of the International Biathlon Union.[4]

The biomechanics of competitive cross-country skiing and ski jumping have been the subject of serious study. Cross-country skiing requires strength and endurance and ski jumping requires aerodynamic efficiency, both of which requirements translate into specific skills[5] to be optimized in training and competition.[6]


Recreational skiing began with organized skiing exercises and races of the Norwegian and Swedish infantries. Military races and exercises included downhill in rough terrain, target practice while skiing downhill, and 3 km cross-country skiing with full military backpack.[7] Slalom (Norwegian: slalåm) is a word of Norwegian origin that has entered the international skiing vocabulary. In the 1800s skiers in Telemark challenged each other on "wild slopes" (ville låmir), more gentle slopes had the adjective "sla". Some races were on "bumpy courses" (kneikelåm) and sometimes included "steep jumps" (sprøytehopp) for difficulty. These 19th century races in Telemark ran along particularly difficult trails usually from a steep mountain, along timber-slides and ended with a sharp turn ("Telemark turn") on a field or icy lake.[8]


Noted Nordic skiing resorts around the world include the following:[9]

  • Devils Thumb Ranch is consistently ranked one of the top cross country ski resorts in all of North America. Located in the mountains of Colorado, the terrain is perfect for a cross country skiing and alpine skiing.[9]
  • The Maine Huts & Trails is a non profit in the high peaks region in Maine. Here you can bike, hike, swim, fish, bird watch, snow shoe and Nordic ski. The Nordic skiing trails spans over 50 miles, are well groomed and offer a beautiful view of the backcountry of the North East.[10][9]
  • Trapp Family Lodge, named after the Von Trapp family from the sound of music is a lodge in Vermont with an Austrian aesthetic. At their Nordic center, you can pick up skis and explore the 62 miles of cross country skiing. The lodge was the first cross country skiing resort in the country and the lodge sits on 37 miles of land.[9]
  • Peer Gynt Trail in Norway is challenging, yet still enjoyable for cross country skiers of all ages. It is 80 km long and you will see the Jotunheimen, Rondane and Dovrefjell national parks as you take the trek through Peer Gynt Country. There are hotels to stay at during your journey because the trail will take around 7 days to complete.[11][9]
  • Cirque du Gavarnie in France is not knows for its diversity of cross country skiing trails but it is known to have some of the most beautiful. Come for cheap entry fees and stay for the iconic views and the mostly open trails.[9]
  • Ammassalik Island is an island in East Greenland that is known for its hiking in the summer and its deep snowfall in the winter which makes excellent Nordic skiing conditions. On the island there are tour operators that partner with guides to offers tourists a multi day cross country trip on the island. To ensure your safety dog sleds and snow mobiles will be patrolling the trails. The trails do not disappoint and the rest stops have astonishing views of the chilly north.[9]
  • Ylläs Ski Resort in Finland is definitely one of the bigger areas to go cross country skiing with 330 km of man made trials. 38 km of which are illuminated so after dark skiing excursions are a possibility. At the resort they have many restaurants as well as a petting zoo which makes quite a memorable stop on a cross-country trip through an already gorgeous terrain.[9]