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The Mazama Nordic Ski School strives to meet students at their current skill level and take them up a notch or two. Whether you've never strapped into a ski binding, are an alpine skier who wants a new challenge, or a nordic skier who is ready for the next level—this class is for you!
The Mazama Nordic Ski School offers three types of cross-country skiing classes: Classic, Skate, and Nordic Backcountry. Backcountry Ski Touring (formerly Ski Mountaineering) is taught as a separate program.
The Nordic Ski School program consists of one mandatory, online “Meet Your Instructor” Orientation followed by 2 class sessions on consecutive weekends (or Wednesdays). A third class session is reserved for a make-up class if weather or snow conditions cause class 1 or 2 to be canceled, or for an optional ski tour.
Flexibility on dates is required as skiing is condition-dependent. Expect that class sessions might switch between Saturday and Sunday for weekend classes. After being accepted into the course, students will be placed in groups based on their skill levels and stay with those groups throughout the course. Classes are typically held in late January/early February.
This year's Nordic Ski School will take place online and outdoors for the class sessions, where distancing and mask protocols will be followed. Although not required, participants are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.
CLASSIC CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
Matching students’ skills to the appropriate class helps to ensure a safe and fun learning experience. When choosing which class to take, you should consider your current skill level - including endurance, how balanced you feel on skis, number of miles you can ski, and the terrain you are able to ski comfortably. See skill level criteria below:
If you have downhill skiing and endurance, but want to learn the basics of Nordic skiing, a Novice or Intermediate class is probably appropriate for you.
Skill Level Criteria
- Have not skied before
- Skiing on gentle hills feels out of control
- Unable to demonstrate step turn, snow plow, and/or diagonal stride
- Unable to ski 2 miles on easy varied terrain without falling numerous times
- Took the Beginner class in the last few years or returning to Cross Country after several years
- Able to demonstrate, but not yet mastered step turn, snow plow, and diagonal stride
- Able to ski 2 miles on easy varied terrain without falling numerous times.
- Able to comfortably ski at least 3 miles on varied easy terrain without falling
- Mastered diagonal stride
- Mastered step turn, snow plow on non-icy, low grade slopes
- Comfort with basic poling techniques
- Desire to increase skills and efficiency, including step turn, balance, weight transfer
- Desire to go on ski tours longer than 5 miles
Some experience with classic cross-country or downhill skiing
Able to balance on a single gliding ski while striding and poling
Have good cardio-pulmonary health (no serious respiratory issues)
Able to ski 3-4 miles in groomed tracks
Recommended Equipment for Skate skiing:
- Skate skis are light, skinny, stiff and need to be waxed for gliding
- 41-45mm width (no wider than 50mm)
- Skis should be ~ 10 inches shorter than classic cross-country skis
- Poles should come up to somewhere around your mouth and be adjustable - longer than classic cross-country ski poles. If renting or buying used, assure that poles are in good condition
- Straps should also be adjustable. Use medium-sized baskets or carry a couple different sizes to change out as conditions change
- Skate or Combi-boots required – make sure that ski bindings and boots are compatible
*These are basic descriptions. - When renting or buying skis, boots, poles be sure to tell the ski shop folks that you will be Skate Skiing. They can guide you in selecting gear that will work best for this type of skiing in groomed tracks.
For those who want to develop the skills and confidence to get off the beaten path. This class will emphasize winter backcountry navigation and negotiating difficult terrain with safety and comfort. Intermediate to advanced cross-country skills are required. Intermediate navigation (map/compass) is recommended.
- Essential prerequisite cross-country skills: efficient kick and glide, snowplow, step turn and kick turn.
- Fitness: outings are 4-6 hours, 7-10 miles, 1000-2000 ft of elevation gain, plus skill practice.
- Learning outcomes: backcountry navigation, safely skiing through dense trees, skiing steeper slopes, speed control on packed trails and introduction to advanced turning techniques.
- Flexibility on dates is required. Skiing the backcountry is condition-dependent. Expect that class sessions might switch between Saturday and Sunday or be postponed to another weekend.
This is Nordic backcountry not alpine (AT) backcountry, meaning: We will be skiing away from groomed tracks, roads, and trails, but limited to areas without avy exposure and we will be on Nordic BC equipment not AT. See equipment requirements below. Ski Mountaineering skills will not be covered (i.e. no avalanche training).
Backcountry Recommended Equipment
Single camber or camber and a half by 78–98 mm wide with metal edges and patterned bases. No AT skis.
NNN-BC or three-pin backcountry. Telemark bindings optional, but heavier than needed. No AT bindings.
Adjustable length (extendable to shoulder height) with cross-country style tips.
Kicker (preferred) or full length.
November 16, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. This presentation will provide information about the 2022 Nordic Ski class and answer any questions that you have about the class.
The Nordic Ski School is held in the winter and includes a combination of lecture and field sessions.
Groups meet three weekends, either on Saturdays or Sundays. Applicants should be prepared for either day. Participants are asked to be flexible and available both days.
Low—Nordic Ski School requires a minimal time commitment on weekends.
Short—Nordic Ski School takes place over a 3–4 week period.
Tuition is $170 for members and $200 for nonmembers.
*lift tickets are not included
Orientation takes place at the Mazama Mountaineering Center in SE Portland. Classes are held in the Mt. Hood area.
The actual class content and location may vary at the discretion of each instructor because of snow conditions or the particular needs of the students.
Carpooling with other students in your group is encouraged and is the customary way to get up to the mountain. We advise all participants to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols in place at the time of the class.
The entire Nordic Ski School accepts appx. 80–100 people each year. This group is then split into cohorts of appx. 10 based on skill level.
COVID 2022 Modifications: Classes may be smaller than normal depending on COVID restrictions at the time of the class.
We are offering a limited number of scholarships to allow students to participate who will not be able to do so without financial assistance and whose participation can help expand the Mazamas membership base beyond current cultural, economic, and ethnic demographics.
A scholarship is for course tuition ONLY. Mazamas may cover the cost of your course up to 90% of the course tuition based on factors listed above. Other costs associated with the course may apply. You must have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet to participate in the course. Please see course home page for associated costs and logistics. All scholarship awardees will qualify for select course gear at a discounted rate.
Applications for scholarships will be part of of the class application. The Mazamas will contact you with the status of your scholarship application before course acceptance.
The Mazamas do NOT provide equipment for this class. Skis, boots and poles may be rented from most local shops. Gear rental costs are around $30-$40 for a 2 night rental package.
The Nordic Ski School instructors are Nordic skiing enthusiasts and volunteer to teach Nordic skiing simply for the love of the sport. They have First Aid and CPR certification and receive professional instructor training (Wy’East Nordic), guidelines, and support from the Mazamas. Each class also has at least one assistant instructor.
If you are interested in teaching or assisting with a Mazama Nordic Ski School class, please apply here for next year. We would love to have you!