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How to Stay Healthy and Happy this Winter? Go Cross Country Skiing!

Cross country skiing has routinely been cited as one of the best forms of exercise and recreation that people can do. Now more than ever before, nordic skiing is uniquely positioned to offer tremendous benefits in health and well-being. Here are just some of the reasons why cross country skiing should be at the top of your list when the snow flies.

Nature is the Healthiest and Safest Place to Be

The outdoor environment of XC skiing is, by nature, one of the safest and most beneficial places one could spend time recreating and exercising. It is not just that XC skiing takes place outdoors, but that it takes place in the forest or in natural areas, that gives it a unique edge. Spending time in nature (rather than on a city sidewalk or crowded gym) offers tremendous benefits to physical and mental health. Immersing oneself in a forest setting has been shown to boost the immune system, accelerate recovery from illness, reduce stress hormone production, lower heart rate and blood pressure, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity. This means that, even at a leisurely pace, skiing in the woods is incredibly good for your body, brain and spirit; you don’t even have to work up a sweat to benefit greatly!

Of particular relevance in modern times, cross country skiing is an activity which naturally lends itself to solitude and small groups, where crowds, lines, and close quarters with other people are almost nonexistent. No mask, hand sanitizer, or physical-distancing concerns are required on a cross country ski trail; it’s just you, the snow, the woods, wildlife, and perhaps a family member or friend. The winter wonderland memory of fun and exhilaration will give you a good reason to smile!

Snowy Skiers XC Ski HQ

Cross Country Skiing Naturally Improves Health and Well-Being

Cross country skiing is one of the best full-body, low-impact physical activities there is. Kicking and gliding through the woods is a sure fire way to improve cardiovascular and lung health, thus offering tremendous upsides towards fighting off respiratory and other illnesses. Cross country skiing is a safe and effective form of exercise for just about everyone, and can be done day after day without wearing out the skier. What’s more, because there are several kinds of cross country skiing, you’ll never get bored! Classic ski along a groomed trail one day, put on some skate skis and feel like you’re flying the next, then pack a picnic and adventure out to some ungroomed, back-country trails after that! Add a day of snowshoeing to the mix, and before long, you’ll be wishing winter lasted much longer.

Regarding well-being, there is a reason why people cross country ski well into their 70’s, 80’s, and even 90’s. There is a reason why, when skiers come inside after being out on the trails, they have what can only be described as a “post-ski glow”. And, there is a reason why cross country skiers tend to be some of the happiest people around. Here is what Bill Koch, an Olympic medalist and modern American pioneer of the sport, has to say about it:

“One of the great things about [cross country skiing] is that it is a lifetime thing. You can enjoy it until you can hardly walk anymore. It runs the whole spectrum from the physical to the mental, all the way to the spiritual for those who want to seek it that far. There is something about the movements of cross country skiing that I think is almost primordial. There is something essential about it that, I think, grips a pretty large percentage of the people who venture into it. You combine those movements with the natural environment —the natural environment in winter is especially intriguing and mysterious.”

Cross country skiing offers a chance to experience a simple and authentic sense of well-being. The joy of movement, of breathing in fresh air, and of being surrounded by natural beauty awaits. Add that XC skiing is one of the most affordable winter sports out there (complete XC Ski HQ ski packages start at $274, and rentals plus a trail pass are just $20 per day), and it’s clear that XC skiing just may be the best activity you can do this winter.

Skiing with “the littles”: How to cross-country ski with your kids… and have fun doing it!

There is nothing better for outdoors-people than fostering a sense of love for nature in their kids. But how to take them on an XC ski outing that they – and you – will enjoy? Here’s what XC ski parents Tim Riley of Grayling and Wendy Anderson of Higgins Lake have to say:

GLWTC: How old were your kids when you started skiing with them?

Wendy: Our twin boys were 7 months old when they first snuggled down together in the Pulk (a sled designed to be pulled by a skier).

GLWTC: How do you make sure your daughters stay warm enough?

Tim: We bite the bullet and spend the money up front on quality gear that lasts. Initially we kept our ski outings short, leaving them wanting more and keeping them from being cold. Hand-warmers are huge, as well as buffs and a pack with extra layers to add or shed for comfort. Also trail snacks and hot chocolate are winners!

GLWTC: What tricks did you develop to make it fun for them, and you?

Wendy: The “Snow Faerie” often rewards good behavior with small, individually wrapped treats like mini-Snickers! Tag or short races to a tree are also favorites with all except the youngest of skiers. Be on the lookout for animal tracks, signs and homes – or even random ski tracks in the woods! Let them consider trail junctions, directions and maps early and often such that they feel ownership of the experience.

GLWTC: What advice would you offer to new parents who want to take their kids skiing?

Tim: Keep it fun and don’t push them. It’s hard when you want to get a good long ski in, but I promise, before long, those 1K skis will turn into 10K skis! There is nothing better than to have the littles begging to ski when you pick them up from school during ski season!

And there you have it! Introduce your kids to the lifelong sport of XC skiing!!

Family Winter Trail Days 2021

Photo Courtesy of Cross Country Ski Headquarters

The Great Lakes Winter Trails Council, Subaru Serra of Traverse City, are proud to present Family Winter Trails Day on Saturday, January 8th, 2021. Whether you’re an experienced snow sports enthusiast or you’re looking to learn more about winter activities on Michigan’s winter trails, we hope you’ll join us for a day of winter fun!

Adults and children receive a free facilities pass and cross country ski or snowshoe lesson at GLWTC member properties. Properties may also offer discounted equipment rentals and other specials. From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing and fat tire biking, bring your friends and family, and discover how fun winter in Michigan can be!

Pre-registration is required for this event. Visit our “Where to go” page to find a Winter Trails destination you’d like to visit, and pre-register by contacting the property via the contact info on their member page.

See you on the trail!

GLWTC President Inducted to Michigan Ski Hall of Fame

ROSCOMMON-The Michigan Ski Hall of Fame presented Bob Frye, owner of Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon, with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contributions to the Ski Industry in Michigan.

Bob and his wife Lynne have been operating their ski shop since 1977.
Describing his induction as a big surprise, Frye was recognized not only by other Michigan ski resorts but by Midwest ski dealers as well.

This achievement was only met with our customers. Without them we wouldn’t have this award. I owe it to all the skiers and cross-country skiers in Michigan, Frye said.

Frye said his wife Lynne has worked side by side with him all of these years.

I thought that my wife Lynne should have been inducted into the Hall of Fame also as she is such an intricate part of this business, he said.

Last year, the Frye’s sold Cross Country Ski Headquarters to their daughter Mariah and her husband Stuart Collie, however, both Lynne and Bob can be found at the shop most days.

Frye has been a strong voice supporting families, promoting getting outdoors in the winter and cross-country skiing for winter enjoyment and exercise.

The biggest thing that got us going was the terrain here in Michigan. It’s ideal for cross- country skiing.

Michigan is extraordinary for downhill skiing but really extraordinary for cross-country skiing, he said.

Along with a shop offering everything cross-country skiing; the latest in clothing, skis and poles, walking poles, ski boots, bindings and installation and other accessories such as lip balm and headlights, Cross-Country Ski Headquarters has its own practice loop with a teaching area.

Skis may be rented or demoed. Once you’ve had a lesson or tried out those new skis, head indoors to the Stone Turtle snack shop.

You’ll find a warming fire, plenty of seats and tables and great soup and homemade sandwiches to keep you energized. Or bring your lunch and eat inside where it’s warm.

The practice loop-Blizzard Ski Park and Trail- is accessible early in the season when snowfall hasn’t been enough to cover trails.

We operate our own snow making equipment for making snow early if there isn’t enough to get going, Frye said.

Once you are comfortable on your new skis, head for one of seven nearby trails ranging from beginner to intermediate levels of skiing.

Trails total 11.2 miles or 20 kilometers and groomed daily along with trail clearing as needed. On weekends stop by Trappers Cabin located trailside for a warm fire and snack.

A board member of the Cross-Country Ski Areas of America for eight years, Frye also was on the board for the National Cross-Country Committee of Snowsports Industries of America for four years.

This is the Heart of Michigan, Frye said. It’s a cross-country ski trilogy that includes Cross-Country Ski Headquarters, Hansen Hills and Forbush Corner all nearby.

In 1988 Frye, along with Treetops General Manager Barry Owens formed the Great Lakes Nordic Ski Council, which is now known as the Great Lake Winter Trails Council. Frye remains as president of the Trails Council.
Frye served on the board of Cross-Country Ski Areas of America for eight years and on the Nation Cross-Country Committee of SIA (Snowsports Industries of America) for four years.

Frye holds the patent for the popular ski accessory called Ski Bones since 1982 after the company went out of business. He further developed Ski Bones making it a lasting product.

Sold throughout the country, Ski Bones, used to hold skis together, are Michigan made from rubber.

The Cross-Country Ski Headquarters is open for the ski season on October 29 remaining open seven days a week until seasons end.

For more information visit crosscountryski.com or call (989) 821-6661 or (800) 832-2663. For trails information in Michigan visit mywintertrails.org.

Michigan Ski Hall of Fame inductee, Bob Frye. By Roger Bob Frye Hall of Fame 2017Beukema