Winter Activity Series – Cross Country Skiing

Daniella San Martin-Feeney is one of our volunteer ambassadors, and contributed this guest blog as part of our winter activity blog series.

Like many others raised in Canada, my first experience of cross-country skiing was in elementary school. It was either a field trip or a special gym class when they had us all strap on some skinny skis and trudge around a school yard in the snow for an hour or two. Needless to say, I wasn’t taken with the sport.

A couple of decades later, I was looking for new hobbies and things to do in the winter. I was drawn, this time, to cross-country skiing because it looked fun and peaceful when I saw others gliding around on Victoria golf course. I liked the fact that you can just put on the skis and go, and that, unlike downhill skiing, you don’t have to buy an expensive lift ticket.

I grabbed a couple of friends and we took our first steps into the world of cross-country skiing by taking an afternoon lesson from the City of Edmonton. I rented skis and went out a couple more times, took a few more lessons, and before I knew it, I was hooked! This was nothing like the boring afternoon in elementary school all those years ago.

I hadn’t realized that it was possible to cross-country ski in the dark. This meant it was a viable activity option for getting outside after work when the sun sets so early in winter. I loved how accessible it was, and was so pleased to discover lots of places right in the city with available ski tracks.

One of my first practice sessions with a friend in the river valley found us Googling animal tracks and marveling at the spot where a large bird had swooped down, presumably to catch a meal, and left distinctive wing markings in the snow. 

One of my later ski lessons took place at Victoria golf course on a foggy Wednesday evening. We could barely see the trees on the other side of the course. The downtown lights glowed above us, and when a pack of coyotes started to howl, we felt like we were in another world.

Valerie, another RVA ambassador, enjoys cross country skiing in Devon.

Now, I am out cross-country skiing every chance I get. My technique needs improvement, I’m still scared of falling when I go downhill, I’m not fast enough to catch up to any other skier out there, and I’m out of breath constantly. But every now and then my stride falls into place, and for a few seconds, I glide along through the forest almost effortlessly and the feeling is magical. I’ll be chasing that feeling all winter long.

Get started with cross-country skiing

  • The City of Edmonton has several cross-country ski lessons and programs for all age groups. All programs include your equipment rental.
  • The Edmonton Nordic Club has cross-country ski programs for youth and adults, but you must have your own equipment.
  • Strathcona County has cross-country ski programs taught largely out of the Strathcona Wilderness Centre, and equipment rental incurs an additional fee.
  • The Devon Nordic Ski Club organizes outings and lessons for kids and adults at Voyageur Park.