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 Cross Country Skiing

 Responsibility Code

Be Responsible -- Be Safe -- Make XC Skiing Fun

Selecting a Location...

It is very important to find an appropriate location when you are skiing with children.  You must be careful not to intimidate the little ones but at the same time challenge the more experienced.   A few tips for selecting the proper location.

  • You should always start small at a fun and exciting trail that is fairly close to home.

  • Seek a location that have some ready made diversions.   Keep the kids amused with things to jump over or bridges to under. Choose an area that offers diverse terrain for instance flat and easy trails as well as more difficult trails with lots of elevation changes. Keep the group’s energy level in mind when selecting your trails.   Ask for advise from other skiers and salespeople at your local ski shop.They are very knowledgeable about great places to ski.

  • Contact the local chamber of commerce, visitor’s centers, or tourism offices for maps and brochures that feature area trails and tours.

Take Breaks...

 Establish a schedule for stopping along the way for short breaks so that the kids know that a break is coming and they will spend less time asking for stops.  Depending on the age of the skiers you can go every 20 minutes or at predetermined landmarks (the first stream crossing, when you get to the lake, at the top of the hill, etc.)

Your rest stop is the time to make sure everyone is comfortable and their needs are met.  Make sure everyone has a drink of water and replenishes sunscreen if needed.  This is the time to add or remove clothing based on the temperatures and comfort level of the skier.  When you do stop, take inventory of how everyone is feeling. Feet OK?  Need more sunscreen?  At the final stop you should celebrate your accomplishments.  Pull out a special treat, and talk about your journey to this point.  Don’t forget to take some pictures. 


Make XC skiing fun for the kids...  Remember that it may be extremely rewarding for you to enjoy nature but the little ones may need some motivation to keep them interested. Here are some ideas for trail games.

  • Follow the leader: Give each kid an opportunity to take the lead, break trail, set the pace, schedule breaks and water stops.
  • Nature watch: Encourage everyone to look for animal tracks and birds, meal remnants, creeks, hills and so on.
  • Treasure hunt: Give the kids a list of items to find along the way.  Examples icicles, animal tracks, change in elevation, tree trunk, another skiier, trial marker etc…

  • Progressive Story: Start a story and have it continue by passing it from skier to skier who embellishes the plot.

  • Guessing games: Have each person predict how many trail markers you will see, or how many other skiers you will pass along the trail, etc.

Cross Country Skier's Code of Ethics...

At ski resorts you are introduced to a variety of people who have different ski levels, and types of equipment.  It is important to remember that you must always be responsible, aware of your surroundings, use common sense, and show courtesy to others in order to enjoy the slopes. There are guidelines to follow to keep you and others safe on the slopes and reduce the risk of getting injured skiing.

  • Always check posted trail conditions and obey all signs and posted warnings.

  • Always buy a trail pass when skiing at a commercial center.

  • When stopping, step off the trail quickly to leave room for other skiers to pass. Don't block intersections and avoid stopping in the middle of hills. Do not stop where you not visible to others.

  • Always maintain control of your speed and direction. Ski in such a manner that you can stop or avoid other skiers or hazards.

  • On double-tracked trails ski single-file and to the right except when overtaking.

  • Ski within your abilities and time allowances.

  • When a skier behind calls out "track," move to the right to give them room to pass.

  • Don't walk in the set tracks or on the groomed trail because footprints decrease grip and glide. Keep to the side of the trail.

  • Skating on classically groomed trails will similarly disrupt the grip and glide of classic skiers.

  • Ski in the specified direction on one-way trails.

  • Avoid cutting off other skiers when entering trails or overtaking.

  • Do not litter.

  • Stick to the trails and respect private property.

  • Descending skiers have right-of-way on hills.

  • Never take your dog on the trails.

In Case of an Accident...

  • Place a pair of crossed skis in an "X" position close to the injured skier.

  • Do not attempt to move the injured person.

  • Be sure that they are kept warm.

  • Look around for trail markers, or landmarks that can be used to determine your location.

  • Call for help.

  • Enlist the aid of a fellow skier.

Know The Symbols...

You’ve arrived. You’re geared up and have a lift ticket. Now what? Go get a trail map at the base lodge or lift-ticket window. Take a few minutes to check it out. The lifts and the trails are marked on the map. The colored symbols next to the trails are the keys to enjoying your first few days on the slopes. Their shape and color indicate the difficulty of the trail.


Here’s what they mean: Green Circle: Easier, Beginner; Blue Square or sometimes a Blue Circle: More Difficult, Intermediate; Black Diamond: Most Difficult, Expert; In some cases you will see a Safety symbol, which is a yellow triangle with an exclamation point (!) which means use extra caution. You’ll find them posted on signs on the mountain.

The same trail symbols are used at every resort in the country, but as Albert Einstein must have said, “It’s all relative.” A Green Circle trail at one resort, might be as tough as a Blue Square at another. Not a big deal. The trail ratings are consistent within each resort. So all the “Greens” at a ski area will be about the same difficulty, as will the “Blues” and the “Blacks.” Realize that difficulty ratings are based on good snow conditions so icy conditions could make the trails much more treacherous.

For the most part, easy trails should normally be trails that are mainly flat with the possibility of a few small hills. More difficult trails could have very large hills with gradual turns or steep fast hills. Most difficult trails tend to have very steep hills or fast hills with tighter turns.

These ratings are very important with cross country ski trails because most groomed trails are one-way so if  you start skiing down and it is beyond your skiing ability, you can't just turn around.  Also, note that the color codes used for these symbols does not always correspond with the color coding for navigating the trail system.  For instance, a green trail may not be the easy trail.