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Cross Country Skiing Glossary

Cross Country Skiing Glossary Terms and Definitions


Man doing cross-country skiing
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Glossary of cross country skiing terms, including definitions.

Base - The hard, clear material at the bottom of the light touring and touring skis. Or the softer, black graphite on performance skis.

Basket - The foot at the end of a cross-country ski pole that is made of plastic and provides something for the skier to push off of.

Camber - An upward curve in the skis, which can be seen when they are placed on a flat surface. The performance levels of the skis are determined by the amount of camber they have.

Classic Technique - Also known as Diagonal Stride, this is the opposite leg - opposite arm movements associated with cross-country skiing.

Christy Turn - A turn done on skis with a skidding phase. Double Poling - Using both poles at the same time to thrust yourself forward.

Flex - The amount of bending resistance the ski has. There are skis with "soft-flex" which are easier to control and use on powder or deep snow, or "stiff-flex" which are best to use at high speeds or in harder snow conditions. Flex can be referring to the entire ski or specific parts like the tail or tip of the ski.

Herringbone - Moving forward with the tips of the skis further apart than the tails, which leaves a herringbone pattern in the snow.

Groomed Trail - A trail that has been prepared with both parallel tracks for sliding and smooth areas for skating. There are often signs informing skiers of the difficulty levels.

Header - a face-first fall into the snow.

Kick Turn - A way to turn in the opposite direction by kicking one ski to a 180 degree position and following it by the other ski.

New Nordic Norm (NNN) - A boot and binding system that is known for it's comfortable flex and ski control. It has a short, metal rod in the toe of the boot sole and a clip-in binding that it attaches to. These types of bindings also have raised ridges, which fit into matching grooves on the soles of NNN boots for lateral control.

Nordic Norm - Also called Three-Pin, it is the traditional, 3-pin boot/binding connection.

Nordic Skiing - A term that refers to any form of cross-country skiing, which includes classic or backcountry touring, skating, and telemark.

Parallel Skiing - Skiing with the skis parallel to each other either together or apart.

Pin Head or Pinner - A term used for a cross-county skier who uses the 3-pin style bindings.

Rollerskis - An off snow skiing training method. They are short metal shafts that have polyethylene or rubber wheels attached to both ends. They are mostly used on pavement, however, some models work off-road too.

Sidestep - Using small steps to move laterally while on cross-country skis.

Sitzmark - The large hole or indentation left behind from a fallen skier. It is good manners to fill in any sitzmarks you make in the trail.

Skating - Much like ice skating, skating is using one ski to propel and the other as a platform.

Skinny Skis - A term used for cross-country skis.

Straight Run - Traveling straight down a hill keeping the skis parallel to each other.

Telemark - A stable position used for turning where one leg leads and the other trails in a kneeling position.

Track Skiing - A type of cross-country skiing done on machine-prepared snow using the classic or skating technique.

Wax - A product that is hard and sealing and comes in two forms. Glide, which is applied to a ski base to improve glide efficiency and protect it from wear. Or grip, which is also applied to the base and helps grip the snow and get traction. Both are applied on different areas of a ski's base.

Width - The distance from ski edge to ski edge, which is measured at the ski's narrowest part. The wider the skis, the more stable and easier they are to control. Where as the narrower skis tend to be faster.
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