GeneralHow to Make Cross-Country Skiing Cool

Avatar Alex KochonApril 1, 20131
Lots of overheating competitors at Saturday's 50 k freestyle mass start at Canadian Nationals in Whistler, B.C. Even so, the sport would be a little better off if the kids stuck to wearing uniforms.
Lots of overheating competitors at Saturday’s 50 k freestyle mass start at Canadian Nationals in Whistler, B.C. Even so, the sport would be a little better off if the kids stuck to wearing uniforms.

For the record, I know exactly what day of the year it is. I also know that this story might be considered offensive in some circles, but let’s be clear, the following editorial is all in good fun.

It doesn’t reflect the opinions of FasterSkier, just some shades of my own as someone who didn’t race in college and remains somewhat of an outsider to the sport’s inner circle. So yeah, I might not “get it,” but I’m also trying to help cross-country evolve from its most basic form with recreationalists to the elite ranks.

Take what you want, laugh off the rest, and Happy April Fools’ Day.

1. Shorten the name. Cross-country skiing: three words, five syllables and a hyphen. Come on. If it requires work to say it, chances are a lot of people will never to try it. And “XC” or “nordic” aren’t quite catchy enough. How about “flat-shredding” or “parallel-ripping”?

2. “Skinny skis” are not cool. “Race boards” are.

3. Onesies are out. Don’t get me wrong, one-piece outfits are completely acceptable for sleeping and downhill skiing (in fact, I highly recommend fluorescent snowsuits for alpine), but nordic? You look like the abominable snowman and my guess is that your technique’s suffering.

4. Same with ski goggles. I don’t care how cold it is or how new to the sport you are, no one should ever need a pair of snow goggles when they’re cross-country skiing (you know, wide strap, huge lens and thick padding around the eyes). I’m big on sunglasses with interchangeable lenses, but if the elements really do require something more substantial, XC-specific brands like Bliz can make you look cool. (See Heidi Weng or Matt Liebsch.) But keep visors to a minimum. For the ultimate in coolness, be like Norway’s Tord Asle Gjerdalen, who wins World Championships medals in Aviators.

5. Wear race suits sparingly. I’m sure this hits a nerve or two. I’m not saying you shouldn’t display your slender build and team pride, but you can cover up a little when you’re not skiing – especially the legs. Some people think it’s a little gross when skiers wear their race suits 24/7, and just because the Euros do it doesn’t mean it’s cool. We know you have more than one, but are you really changing (or doing laundry) that often?

6. Bibs alone are not sufficient. I don’t care if it’s 20 degrees Celsius, 70 Fahrenheit, whatever, and sunny. You really should wear some kind of top under that race bib. Guys, it’s not masculine to be showing belly, and no boxer briefs, either. It’s not funny; it’s disturbing.

US Ski Team doing their "I Knew You Were Trouble" Taylor Swift parody.
US Ski Team doing their “I Knew You Were Trouble” Taylor Swift parody.

7. Make more music videos. Especially the choreographed ones like the US Ski Team put out this year. While the song choice was questionable, the publicity stunt definitely worked. Ones I’m not so sure of: the Australian men’s team “I Kissed a Girl” parody and the Alberta World Cup Academy’s Harlem Shake. But thumbs up to the Norwegian Ski Team’s rendition, and Australia’s “Wally the Wombat” from World Championships.

8. Trade the Eurosport announcers for some of those guys (and gals) they use at the X-Games. The British accents might be charming, but imagine how much better watching World Cups at 5:30 a.m. would be if you had Aussies talking about how rad that attack was or “dude, I wonder if that Kowalczyk chick is gonna hold it?” I also want them to interview Marit Bjørgen at the end and get more than, “I’m really happy” out of her.

Even guys like Petter Northug can look un-cool sometimes, like at the bottom of Mordarbakken hill at World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden. Alex Matthews says get rid of the crazy downhills and add some serious jumps.
Even guys like Petter Northug can look un-cool sometimes, like at the bottom of Mordarbakken hill at World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden.

9. Make the jumps larger. In all seriousness, this was a legit topic of debate at the Quebec World Cup last December. The organizers made a FIS-approved “step down,” which is not even cool enough to acknowledge. If you’re going to make an obstacle, blow skiers and spectators out of the water. Who needs bigger hills when they can go off kickers? On the topic of downhills, we don’t want to see any more snowplowing, either.

10. Out with team sprints, in with full-contact XC cross. I realize I’m going back on my proposed name change, but that’s just a minor detail. Watching two skiers tag off multiple times for a total of six laps on a sprint course can be pretty boring. Instead, let them all go at once – last man or woman standing wins. 

11. Indulge more. All any of us Average-Joe fans want is to see their favorite World Cup athlete eat a hamburger or go on a binger once in a while. And not at the end of the season, like the World Cup Finals after-party. Devon Kershaw said it himself: “It’s kind of embarrassing to see. It’s kind of funny to watch.”

12. Don’t use your drink belt as your everyday hydration system. Andy Newell asked the question on Twitter yesterday: “What’s the ruling on using drink belts while you travel? Practical or too dorky… I’m leaning toward the latter.” Right on, Andy.

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Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alex@fasterskier.com) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.

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