Cross-country skiing (or XC skiing) is an Alberta tradition. The snowy Alberta prairie, foothill and mountain landscape suits the Spandex-clad ski set well, and a strong heritage of the sport can be found from Canada Olympic Park to Kananaskis. Here’s the short list.
C.O.P. is as convenient as it gets for XC skiers, with 2.2 kilometres of trails, warming huts, concessions and rentals.
Built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, this world-class nordic centre has impeccable trails, plus night skiing.
Right next door to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, the Golden Nordic Ski Club maintains the cross-country trails at Dawn Mountain.
Mount Shark, Poccaterra, Ribbon Creek and Sawmill all offer great options.
Beside Kimberley Alpine Resort lies a decent trail network.
Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks all have great XC skiing. Lake Louise is often the first to get snow and has groomed trails for both classic and skate skiing.
Located just south of Kootenay National Park, this private course offers excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Calgary Ski Club, with the agreement of the City of Calgary, offers classic cross-country skiing at Shaganappi Point Golf Course, just west of downtown.
Recent advances in XC-skiing gear mean you can finally throw Dad’s leather boots and bamboo poles into the compost bin
Salomon Carbon Skate Lab
Salomon claims this boot is the “future of faster skiing.” Then again, every manufacturer tells you that all the time. It does sport a 360-degree carbon frame, full carbon cuff and custom-fit liner, making it a pretty high-tech boot. When you look this good, you better be as awesome as you say.
($1,199, Lifesport Calgary, 1110 Gladstone Rd. N.W., 404-270-4501, lifesport-calgary.com)
Rossignol EVO Action NIS Positrack
Designed for recreational skiers, these waxless touring skis are lightweight with a user-friendly flex at the tip and tail. Pair them with Rossi’s best-selling touring boot, the X-5 OT, which offers good mobility, stability, control and warmth, and you’ll be good to go, on the trails or off.
($239, The Norseman Ski & Hike, 4655 37 St. S.W., 403-249-5451, norsemanski.com)
Atomic Sport Skintec
The Sport Skintec is for the aggressive XC skiers who want to make the best use of their limited free time. Manufacturers of waxless technology claim you get the same kick and glide of a perfectly waxed ski, without the need for wax. How do they do it? Magic, probably.
($599, The Norseman Ski & Hike Shop, 4655 37 St. S.W., 403-249-5451, norsemanski.com)