Did you know there’s a stone carving depicting a skier that dates back to 5000 BC? Once a crucial method of transportation, this historic hobby has turned into a fun activity for the whole family! With the help of the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club, we’ve collected everything you need to know about cross- country skiing in Edmonton.
1. Get your gear.
- Before you get going, you’ll need a couple essentials: skis, poles, boots, and some warm clothing. “Edmonton is really fortunate to have two long-time locally owned shops dedicated to cross-country skiiing,” shares Edmonton Nordic Ski Club President Jim Rickett. Both Track N’ Trail (trackntrail.ca) and Fast Trax (ftrs.ca) offer tons of specialty Nordic skiing equipment are long-time partners of the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club. If you aren’t ready to invest in your own set of equipment, Totem Outfitters (totemoutfitters.ca) offers daily rentals so you can try out the hobby before taking the plunge.
2. No need to travel, we’ve got over 12 kilometres of expertly groomed trails right here in the city!
We’ve got some of the best trails in Alberta,” says Jim. The Edmonton Nordic Ski Club maintains an expansive lit trail network in Gold Bar, Goldstick, and Capilano Parks which are groomed daily by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. Plus, this is one of the only places to cross-country ski on man-made snow in all of Alberta. “As our weather has becomes less predictable, we can extend the length of our season this way,” explains Jim. “It’s so unique! The next closest place [with artificial snow] in Alberta is the Canmore Nordic Centre.” The best part? Access to the trails is completely free. “We are really proud that our trails are available for all citizens, not just people who are registered in our programs and lessons,” he says.
3. Just starting out? Join a class or recreation group.
While taking a class is not required, it can definitely help with navigating the more difficult parts of the sport. Edmonton Nordic Ski Club offers tons of different lessons suitable for all ages and skill levels. If you don’t have time to commit to a class, don’t despair! Edmonton Nordic Ski Club offers a recreational ski group, which leaves from the Gold Bar Pavilion every Wednesday at 7pm. They also have over 300 youth registered in their Jackrabbit program, which introduces children ages 4–12 to the sport and are led by Nordic Canada certified instructors.
4. Maintain proper trail etiquette
Edmonton Nordic Ski Club puts a lot of effort into ensuring that the trails in Gold Bar Park are top notch, so help them out by doing your part! Don’t walk on the designated cross-country skiing paths since footprints can cause holes in the tracks which disrupts the flow for beginner skiers. Once you set out, don’t stop in the track for longer than a couple seconds, and always step out if a longer break is required. Slower skiers should yield the right of way if a faster skier catches up with them. Finally, make sure to obey any one-way tracks. Feel free to ask another skier for assistance if you are unsure!
You can find updated trail reports, programs, and more at Edmonton Nordic Ski Club’s website (edmontonnordic.ca) or on the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club Facebook group.
This article by Kristen Thomas appears in the January/February issue of Info Edmonton Magazine.