To do winter activities such as cross-country skiing is FANTASTIC! Personally, I enjoy admiring how nature dresses up in white, when everything is covered in snow. The landscape is just beguiling! The trees get different shapes and forms when they are covered with the whiteness and the floor hides its wonderful treasures. Additionally, when it is very cold (for example -15 or below) one can see shining elements in the snow as diamonds. The colder it is, the amount of shinier particles increase and one can find them even in the air. It is just a magical experience.
If we are lucky to have several cold and white winter days in a row, then we can be able to recognize different snow consistencies and all is really white, even the street where the cars transit. Some Finns might call these periods “real winter days”, white days with low temperatures, perhaps around -15, or -20 or below. When we go for a walk or skiing during these real winter days, then we generate a particular sound with the snow. In Finnish language the verb to identify this sound is: narskua. In the following link is an example from of someone walking on the snow and the sound emerges with each step.
For me, winter is just magical. In a previous post Tarja already mentioned about many activities one can perform outdoors, and Jenni commented about how to ground ourselves in nature in winter. One amazing activity to perform during these days is cross-country skiing. This post focuses on cross-country skiing for beginners, in particular adult beginners.
How to start cross-country skiing?
Some of us didn’t have the opportunity to learn to ski at a young age, however we can learn to ski in our adulthood. If you are in this group, then you should start with cross-country skiing. This sport is about balance and sliding, and one can learn these skills at any age. If you are curious about the sport you can find many YouTube videos explaining the basics of cross-country skiing.
If you are in Finland as a tourist and you do not have skis, I recommend you to go to the tourist information center in the city you are located. They will help you on how to get hold of skis and if you would like to have access to instructors.
I have my skis and I did my first lesson, now what shall I do?
It is time to go skiing!. Finland has an outstanding infrastructure and organization to prepare cross-country ski trails and they make this information available to public in each city. For example in Turku region, they are constantly actualizing the information of the ski trails under the city’s website. This is the link with the information in English, however I find the Finnish page easy to skim through the key information one needs to know about the tracks (e.g. length, last maintenance)
However, if you are a beginner, you will soon discover that not all the ski trails are the same, and this is a message that I want to convey in this post.
Often cross-country skiing trails are labelled by their length as you see in the screenshot presented above. The information that can be read is the kilometers the particular trail has. One can also click on the maps available in the city websites to see more details of the route, e.g. where does it go.
However, it is not specified if the trails have hills or not, or how steep the hills are. To deduce this information, one has two two options: be familiar with the topography of the area or read the maps with the topography information. As an adult beginner skier, I do not embrace downhills with passion. My focus at the moment is to work more with my balance and breaking technique. For this reason, I look for locations that allow me to practice, practice, practice and I feel confident if I fall I will not break a bone. With this in mind, this winter I discovered four perfect trails to practice in Turku region. These trails are flat and ideal for adult beginner to exercise and gain more confidence in our own ski skills. Let me share with you these four findings.
1. Sport hall at Paavo Nurmi Stadium
The Paavo Nurmi Stadium is probably THE MOST boring trail I have seen. It might be particularly dull for those who know how to ski. The trail is not even announced on the city’s website, although it is maintained by the city (as far as I understand). However, this trail is PERFECT for practicing your balance and “improving” your speed. The track is an infinitive loop and completely flat. I visited this track many times after work, and there is hardly anyone here, so the track is almost for you. Truthfully, I feel it help me to be more confident with my skiing cadence.
This trails is announced in the city’s website. The trail is on a field and one can say it is divided in two parts. One part of the trail is closer to the sea than the other. The area that is more inland is completely flat. The other area closer to the sea has a small hill, which beginners can conquer easily. This trail is popular with locals, nonetheless I never saw this trail crowded. It has plenty of space, and one can have good distance between the people who is skiing, as you see in the photos below. It is a beautiful track for practicing with a view.
3. Kurjenrahka National Park
Kurjenrahka national park has a trail on the swamp. It is maintained, as far as I understand, by hobbyists. The trail is mainly flat, at least the distance that I experienced, and it offers stunning views.
4. At the sea in Naantali
This location, from my perspective, is very exotic: to ski on the frozen sea. It is a perfect location for beginners to practice cross-country skiing. Note: It is wise to review the authorities website (here is a direct link to the map) before you step on the ice.
The frozen sea allows us to experience winter through different activities such as ice-fishing, skating and skiing all in the same space.
For cross-country skiing the sea offers a flat surface and we can cover a long distance. The main tracks of the trail are maintained by the city of Naantali, however you will find other tracks made by other people too.
If you have the opportunity to ski in this tracks while the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the temperature is below zero, then I can say you are a privileged person enjoying the a perfect wonderful winter day in Finland!
I wish this post inspires others to practice cross-country skiing when the opportunity emerges. I hope we can have many more “proper winters” in Finland to keep enjoying this sport.
If you discover other trails which are good for beginners in Finland, do not hesitate to share us this information.
Challenge your knowledge about cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing is a sport that offers many benefits to our bodies, and it allows us to see, feel and experience winter nature at its fullest. The sport also has some curious facts. So, before I finalize this post, let me challenge you about four curious facts of cross-country skiing!
PS 1: I finalize writing this post when spring is already here. First I was busy skiing and later preparing for the spring, but today is a day to publish this post. For the slow writing process, the images indicating the situation of the ski tracks in different periods of time, closer to the time when the ice is melting. However I hope this information is useful for the next skiing season. There will be the same or similar websites, and the concept works the same, just the information will be actualized. 😉
PS 2: I want to thank in this post Kirsi and Ellu, for giving the basics in cross-country skiing and seeding the passion of this sport in me.