PACCSA ski lessons

PACCSA offers free group lessons for beginners at Laurel Ridge XC Ski Center throughout the ski season, Jan-Feb and maybe into March, snow permitting.  In 2024 the lessons will be for groups of 6 to 12 people, booked 24h+ in advance, and mostly on Sundays.   

View the schedule and sign up here!  More lessons will be scheduled when we have volunteers to teach them.  If the lessons are fully booked, it's worth looking again another day in case someone has canceled.  

If we have to cancel the lesson for any reason (eg no snow), we will let you know as soon as we can.  If you have to cancel, please try to do so before the day of the lesson.  The lessons will be subject to whatever state/county advisories and regulations for recreational sport are in place at the time. 

Lessons will only take place if the trails are groomed.  Laurel Ridge XC Ski Center trails are groomed by the concessionaire, Riversport, not PACCSA. 

The lesson instructors are PACCSA members. Participants are encouraged but not required to join PACCSA.

There is no charge for the lessons, but a trail pass must be purchased from the concession.  For trail fees, see Riversport's Laurel Ridge page.  (Adult trail fee $15, Dec 2023).

What to expect
The lessons usually last around an hour. Instruction is given on the basic skills of classic nordic skiing - falling and rising, balance drills, diagonal stride, use of poles and also hill technique. This is followed by short outing on the trails to practice these skills, if time permits.

Where to meet
The meeting point for lessons at Laurel Ridge XC Ski Center is the open area beside the concession building (this is the wooden building nearest to the parking lot) - see the photo below.  Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the lesson time, so that you have time to purchase your trail pass, rent ski gear, if necessary, and be ready to start on time.  Directions to Laurel Ridge are here.

What to wear
Dress in layers, avoiding cotton. The innermost and middle layers should be wicking material, eg wool or polyester, and the outer layer should be windproof and smooth-textured (snow sticks to wool and fleece). Clothing for winter running or cycling would be suitable for xc skiing, but add an extra layer as you will be moving more slowly at first.  Don't forget gloves or mittens (not wool), a hat and a neck gaiter, scarf or buff which can be used as a face covering, sunglasses and sunscreen or wind protector, and a change of clothes for afterwards. 

A note on ski rental and ski fitting
For equipment rental, see our gear rentals and retailers page and also the list of PACCSA member discounts.  Ski boots should be fairly snug but not uncomfortably tight, fitting like shoes.  Ski length depends on the skier's height and weight, and the flex (bendiness) and width of the ski.  For most adult beginners, classic cross country skis would usually be a few inches longer than the skier's height.  When standing on both skis on a smooth floor, there should be a tiny gap between the middle of the skis and the floor, just large enough to slide a piece of copier paper between the skis and the floor to and fro for a few inches.  When standing on one ski, this gap should close completely as the ski compresses.  Classic pole length should be between armpit and shoulder height.  Make sure that you know how to put the skis on and take them off again. 

Skiing after the lesson
The trail map for Laurel Ridge is here The easiest trails are the purple trail, the blue trail, and the green trails near the number 3 on the partial map below.
Please read about cross country ski etiquette

REI's how to cross country ski page has some good advice and videos.  If you only have time to watch one, watch this one.  
Further reading about xc ski gear 

Laurel Ridge lesson area Purple trail