Comparing Downhill and Cross Country Skiing

Skiing is a great way to take advantage of what winter has to offer, regardless of whether you prefer downhill or cross country skiing. Both forms offer health benefits and the chance to get out in nature and enjoy the views. However, there are definitely considerable differences between the two.


Downhill and cross country skiing requires entirely different equipment. Downhill skiers tend to use shorter, wider skis, unless they are very experienced. Experienced skiers who use longer downhill skis do so in order to go faster. Downhill ski boots are made of rigid plastic. They are held completely in place on the skis.

In contrast, cross country skis tend to be much longer than the typical skis of a downhill enthusiast. The boots aren’t plastic shells. Instead, they look similar to regular shoes, except that the toe box clips onto the ski. The rest of the boot can lift free of the ski, allowing for movement. As the right leg moves forward, the right foot settles down on the ski. As the left leg moves back, the middle and back of the left foot lift off from the ski.


Another major difference between the two is the level of exertion required. Downhill skiing uses gravity to produce downward movement, whereas cross country skiing relies on the exertion of the skier to produce forward movement.

Health Benefits

Both downhill and cross country skiing can help you accomplish your fitness goals. However, they will work your body in different ways. Downhill skiing strengthens your bones and joints, while improving your coordination, balance, and body awareness. Cross country skiing is intense aerobic exercise that builds cardiovascular health, burns hundreds of calories every hour, and works multiple muscle groups.

In the winter, residents of Flathead Valley, Montana strive to make the most of what the season has to offer. The Flathead Valley Winter Adventure Guide can help you accomplish exactly that by pointing you in the direction of the best local trails and ski resorts. If you have any questions, you can reach their office in Kalispell, MT at (406) 758-4456.

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