Imagine gliding through a snow-covered trail, taking in the winter landscape and exploring the mountain at your own pace.

Cross-country skiing is the perfect way to enjoy the crisp winter days in the mountains – and it’s surprisingly easy to pick up.

The discipline offers cardio, strength building exercise and good endurance training while focusing on technique – a fantastic balance of physical and technical mastery and skill.

This paired with the quite unique experience of skiing across smooth, freshly groomed trails, makes cross-country skiing a fantastic option.

Although snow-covered trails are not always available in the UK, the sport is practiced in the form of roller skiing at home, providing an excellent starting point and alternative to get involved.


Nordic skiing is often used synonymously with cross-country skiing but the term encompasses a number of other disciplines including biathlon and ski jumping.

Cross-country skiing itself is the oldest form of the sport, used as a means of transportation historically.

Nowadays the sport gains more and more popularity as a fantastic winter fitness option and alternative to running in the cold months.

At its higher competitive level, cross-country skiing is a highly demanding endurance sport, building strength and stamina in athletes.


Whether you are a skier who would like to try the trails across the mountains on your day off the slopes or someone who doesn’t like the steep hills but still enjoys the snow, cross country skiing is a brilliant choice.

A discipline that can be picked up easy, can take you far away from the busy ski pistes and lift queues, giving you a different perspective on the surrounding landscapes and far greater reach of the mountain.

The sport is suitable for anyone from a young age wishing to have a go, with para nordic options making the sport inclusive for all.


While the sport is not one widely available in the UK, there is a non snow alternative, roller skiing, that can be done on cycle tracks and paths. This offers an accessible and brilliant way to get involved and keep fit.

Roller skiing is practiced on roller skis – short skis with wheels and binding on top for you to clip your ski boot in. The sport only requires a smooth tarmac surface. The technique used in roller skiing is a very similar to cross-country skiing on snow and it will give you all the skill needed to master the on-snow sport.

You can try roller skiing as a great alternative to cross country skiing in England.


Interested in having a go? We can help set you on your roller skiing journey:




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All you need to know:

Could roller skiing train me for cross country skiing on real snow? 

Absolutely, roller skiing is internationally recognised as the direct training method and technical practice for cross-country skiing during the summer/non-snow months. Both elite athletes and beginners can improve their skills for on snow by practicing roller skiing.

What is the transition like from tarmac to snow? 

The transition to snow is easy as the aim is to imitate exactly the same movement as when on roller skis but it’s important to learn correct techniques on roller skis; bad habits picked up on roller skis can show up quickly on snow so lessons are highly recommended. It’s easier for wheels to roll on tarmac than skis to glide on snow without the fundamental technique, but wheels can also roll slightly quicker than on snow too.

Is roller skiing available in the UK all year round? 

Yes! Roller skiing is, however we don’t recommend doing it on slippery leaves, ice or snow but most public parks and cycle tracks are accessible for roller skis throughout the year. You can also take part in roller ski races from April to October annually as part of the GB rollerski series. Snowsport England also provide rollerski skills weekends for people of all abilites to improve their roller skiing with high level coaches.

I am a complete beginner – where do I start with roller skiing? 

You can start with either a Snowsport England led roller ski course with one of Snowsport England’s qualified instructors, or you can find a Snowsport England instructor based at your local affiliated club – most of which also run beginner courses and sessions.

Do I need my own equipment and is it expensive?

The sport is a relatively inexpensive, once you have the equipment you can use any suitable smooth tarmac track rather than having to pay to use specialist facilities. The same boots, poles and bindings for cross-country skiing can be used both on snow and on roller skis and should last a long time when looked after properly. It’s only the actual roller skis and cross-country skis that are different.

All of the equipment above can be bought at a range of prices- cheaper models of boots, skis and poles are often heavier but are made from sturdier materials suitable for beginner ‘wear and tear’ and you can often find second hand equipment offers within the community of roller skiers in England.