During the pandemic, as social-distancing mandates resulted in the closure of most ski resorts, the popularity of cross-country skiing skyrocketed. Less expensive than alpine resort skiing, cross-country (a.k.a., XC, Nordic) skiing proved to be a cohort-friendly and socially distanced activity that’s also a great workout. Even with resorts open, XC converts are continuing to hit the trails. Kit Richmond, owner of LifeSport, a local retailer of cross-country ski equipment and apparel, has watched Nordic skiing spike in popularity since 2020 — by the end of last November, LifeSport had sold out of all its entry-level cross-country ski gear. He expects that popularity will continue to rise.
There are trails for all levels of Nordic skier in the mountains near Calgary, particularly throughout Kananaskis Country, Bragg Creek and at the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. You’ll also find track-set (machine-made) trails in many of Calgary’s urban parks and green spaces, including North Glenmore Park, Confederation Park and at the Shaganappi Point Golf Course.
Three Local XC Ski Clubs
A cross-country skiing club is a great way to meet new people and learn about new trails. Here are a few Calgary-based clubs to consider joining.
Incorporated in 1964, Foothills Nordic Ski Club is a full-service, not-for-profit club that delivers programs for all ages and performance levels. Programs include ski fitness training, adult learn-to-ski and skill-improvement, and a program for women aged 55-plus; while memberships perks include discounted rates at mountain lodges, waxing clinics, club events and more.
Proclaimed an effective treatment for “cabin fever and winter woes,” Calgary Ski Club is the city’s oldest outdoor recreational club, providing year-round activities and programs for all ages and performance levels. The club offers single-day carpool trips to the mountains and bus trips to resorts for cross-country skiing adventures, as well as pub nights and other social events. The Calgary Ski Club also runs the Calgary New and Used Ski Sale, Canada’s largest ski and gear sale.
Calgary Nordic Training Group has been around since 2008 and offers family-oriented training programs, as well as adult ski fitness classes. There are individual annual memberships as well as family memberships with prices based on the number of kids in the family. This group has a focus on training while encouraging participation in ski loppets (recreational races).