The Great Debate: Cross-Country Skiing as an Alternative for City Living
Not every city has nearby mountains—that’s just a fact. However, most cities devote a significant amount of land to manicured and open-to-the-public green spaces. Take Chicago, for example; we don’t have much by way of elevation, but we have over 600 parks, 8,100 acres of green space, countless bird sanctuaries, several wildlife preserves, and miles and miles of sandy beaches. This city knows what It’s doing when it comes to public parks—in fact, one of the first here was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead himself. But that’s beside the point. What I’m trying to say is that even non-skiing cities can still offer a form of skiing: Nordic skiing. Sure, most skiers will see this as the “enemy” winter sport—the activity pitted against our beloved alpine skiing—but hear me out. Cross-country skiing is far more accessible than alpine skiing, it’s often cheaper, you can do it whenever, and you can lay down some tracks right in your backyard. Er, your neighborhood park. Cross-country skiing, though not as fast as alpine skiing, is sure to boost your adrenaline. Experienced skiers can reach pretty impressive speeds. It’s also a phenomenal workout; the athlete must generate all the momentum, resulting in a more fulfilling exercise. Plus, this is a great way to stay in shape during the winter months. Maybe you want to use it to prepare for a ski trip you have planned later in the winter. Maybe you’ve cut your losses and realize Nordic skiing is the only viable option. It may not be as fun as alpine skiing, but it’s still a great damn choice. Cross-country skiing is also way cheaper and more accessible than alpine skiing. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent a pair of skis for a little as $20 per day. If you’re practicing in a city park, you won’t have to spend any money on a lift or access ticket. If the snow is dense enough, you can even ski right out from your doorstep—as I’ve done several times through my several Chicago winters. Some might even use this as a tool for commuting. I’ve seen dozens of professionals cross-country skiing the Lakefront Trail to work in the dead of winter. Don’t write off cross-country skiing as the lesser skiing option. It’s different, but it’s the better and more accessible option for city-bound ski enthusiasts. Give it a try and see what you think.