What do you give a cross-country skier for Christmas?
That depends on the skier’s age, skill level and interests. A beginner skier’s needs will be different than a long-term, committed Nordic. How much are you willing to spend? You could spend anywhere from $5 for hand warmers to $500 and up for new skis or boots. What’s available is the third factor.
Where do you shop for Nordic gifts?
The first place to look for gifts for cross-country skiers is a local Nordic center. Since we have six in our area — Bear Notch, Bretton Woods, Great Glen Trails, Jackson, King Pine and Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring — you don’t have to go far. They are the best places to search for just the right gift. Their staffs are knowledgeable and creative and they specialize in all things Nordic.
At Great Glen’s Retail Shop, I asked Eli and Chris what they would recommend for Nordic gifts. They told me gloves and socks are always welcomed presents. A Nordic skier can’t have enough of either. Kids, especially, outgrow or lose them constantly. Hats are tricky items — everyone has their own personal taste and color scheme, but headbands and neck-ups might work.
Even skiers who don’t wax can use F-4 to keep the skis gliding and snow from sticking.
Those that wax always appreciates new waxes, brushes and scrapers. Ski sleeves to keep skis together, hand warmers and foot warmers are great stocking stuffers. Don’t forget to throw in lip balms and sunscreen, too. All cross-country skiers need those on bright, snowy days.
The Great Glen staff also recommended giving Nordic skiers a gift certificate that could be used for equipment, accessories or a trail pass. Gift certificates are always the right size and color and allow the skier to choose for themselves what they need or want.
My next stop was the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation headquarters. In Gorham’s Bike and Ski Shop, I saw many items that would make fine gifts. There were Swix and Toko waxes and tools, and a wide assortment of gloves, socks and hats. They had long underwear tops and bottoms and jackets and ski pants to keep your favorite Nordic warm and styling. A wide selection of skis, boots and poles for every type of Nordic skiing from backcountry to tracks and skate platforms lined the walls. For skiers who also like to snowshoe, they have MSR snowshoes and equipment.
Downstairs in the wax room, I ran into friends prepping skis for the first snowfall. I asked them what they give a Nordic skier for Christmas. For the serious waxer, one recommended glide wax remover and a pocket sharpener for scrapers.
The other friend suggested a lesson or day pass for the novice skier. She also recommended Jackson’s “Get 4 and Go” package. It includes two group lessons, two private lessons, ski rentals and a season’s pass when all the lessons are done for only $199. It would be a great gift for someone you wanted to introduce to cross-country skiing.
Other gift options are season passes for Friday Gliders/Sliders ($60) or Tuesday trekkers snowshoe tours.
Have a friend or loved one who wants to learn how to skate ski? Sign them up for the four-week skate clinics in January and February. They’re available for beginner and advanced beginner skate skiers.
AT JSTF’s front desk, you can purchase all these as well as gift certificates, gift cards and JSTF memorabilia.
Traveling south on Route 16, I stopped at Ragged Mountain Equipment, the headquarters of Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Foundation. Their staff had some great suggestions. Besides the usual socks and gloves ideas, they recommended headlamps for those skiers who like ski after dark, usually on a moonlight night.
F-4 packets you can carry in your pocket to use whenever the snow sticks were mentioned. Beanies, balaclavas, gaiters and neck-ups make practical gifts. Maps are useful for planning a backcountry tour. Energy snacks and water bottles are important for keeping the Nordic skier fueled and hydrated. Belt packs to carry those in are always useful. “Cat crap” to de-fog googles and glasses is a good stocking stuffer, as well as skin and lip protection.
Dennis suggested a ski tune-up would be appreciated by a Nordic skier if they didn’t have the equipment and know-how to do it themselves. You could always gift new skis, poles and boots to your cross-country enthusiast, too. Ragged Mountain has plenty to choose from, for all styles of skiing. They have waxes, brushes and scrapers, too.
For the cross-country skier who likes variety in their winter activities, Ragged has snowshoes and poles, and micro-spikes and other traction devices for hiking or walking on icy surfaces (like last year’s ground cover).
If fat biking is their thing, you can get them an MWVST pass to ride in Whitaker Woods.
By the time I left Intervale, I was “shopped out.” If I had more energy, there were other places I could go shopping for Nordic gear. LL Bean, REI and EMS carry items and gear suitable for Nordic skiers — check out their websites.
Sun and Ski, Stan and Dan’s and Sports Outlet have cross-over gifts, good for alpine or Nordic skiers.
Bretton Woods Nordic Center has an extensive ski shop, with lots of cool items.
Bear Notch Ski Touring has the equipment and passes for sale, too. You don’t have to look too far in this valley to find gifts cross country skiers appreciate.
If you’re an online shopper, you can find cross-country gifts at Akers Ski, Inc. (akers-ski.com). They have clothes and equipment for kids as well as adults.
Books on skiing or calendars make good presents. Visit your local book store or ski shop to see what they have or try Amazon.
One of my favorite ski books is Steve Hindman’s “Cross-Country Skiing for Fun and Fitness.” It has good information for novices to experts.
Magazine subscriptions are a good way to keep your Nordic skier up to date on gear, techniques, and places to go. I ask for “Cross Country Skier,” the journal of Nordic skiing every year. Your cross-country skier, whether expert or novice, will find articles of interest there.
Whether you’re buying gifts for children or adults, novices or expert cross skiers, consider what will make their ski experience better. It might be new equipment, the latest waxes and the coolest clothes. Or it might be something as simple and practical as new socks, gloves or long underwear.
Stocking stuffer items — lip balm, energy snacks, F-4 packets, insulated water bottles — are always welcomed. Ski passes or lesson packets make it easier for Nordics to get out on the snow and have fun. Cross-country reading materials and videos help skiers improve their knowledge and skills. If you’re not sure what your skier needs or want, gift certificates are always a great present.
Hopefully, we’ll have new snow soon and it’ll be time to go cross-country skiing. Get your Nordic skier Christmas shopping done early, and hit the trails!
Through Tuesday, Dec. 24 (Tuesday): Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring season pass sale.
Saturday, Dec. 14: Jackson Ski Touring Foundation’s potluck, 5-7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 15: Great Glen Trails Bill Koch Ski League starts, 1:30-3:30 p.m.for students in grades 1-8. Great Glen BKL Club, according to its website, is a “weekly program that emphasizes the fun of skiing, making new friends, and learning and improving skiing skills.”
Tuesday, Dec. 17: Great Glen Trails Nordic warm-ups, 10-11:30 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 28: Great Glen Trails Evening Snowshoe Tour, 7 p.m.
Sally McMurdo is currently a cross country ski instructor at Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. For almost four decades, she has explored New England’s groomed and ungroomed trails on all kinds of skis.