Nordic Nut

A guide to Nordic lingo.

Do you like to sweat in cold weather? Do you like to wear tight clothing? Do you like to ski with great difficulty up hills before flailing down on flimsy gear? Do you know what lutefisk is, and how it’s made—and still eat it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Nordic skiing is for you. But like anything that comes from Scandinavia, there will be suffering—it’s what they do best up there. Well, that and producing expensive designer home furnishings. Anyway, before you go, here’s some handy lingo to get you started.

Classic—Cross-country skiing technique characterized by your skis being parallel and opposite-leg/opposite-arm motion. This also how your Dad refers to his Buick, the ugly down vest he’s worn since the Nixon administration, and the Doobie Brothers.

Biathlon—An event combining cross-country skiing and marksmanship. Athletes ski prescribed interval distances with stops at a shooting range for both prone and standing attempts at targets with .22 caliber rifles. In Montana, a Winchester lever-action carbine and edible wild creatures are substituted as weapon and target.

Waxless base—Directional scales cut into classic striding skis for traction. Also, a hairy butt.

Rollerskis—Off-season wheeled training tool for Nordic skiers. These can be an annoying and dangerous scourge on narrow, winding roads such as Hyalite or Bridger Canyon, where rollerskiers feel compelled to skate.

Skate Skiing—the Nordic equivalent of road cycling, complete with spandex clothing, overpriced carbon-fiber equipment, widespread doping scandals, and super tight proprietary hats.

Sitzmark—A divot in the snow left by a crash. Not to be confused with a skidmark, which is gross.

New Nordic Norm (NNN)—A boot/binding system known for its comfortable flex and efficient ski control. This system was created in 1985, so it’s really not that new, but Nordic skiers actually enjoy skiing uphill, so they’re obviously a little slow.

Herringbone—Skiing technique used to climb hills. But also the skeletal structure of an oily fish found commonly in Nordic waters, where they are caught, salted, smoked, marinated, pickled, fermented and creamed. Mmmmm, creamed fish.

Kick Wax—Provides grip on the snow when weight is transferred onto the ski. It’s also the name of the new house band at the Cat’s Paw.

VO2 Max—The maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during exercise, which is important in Nordic skiing. It’s also a great name for a trendy outdoor energy drink. Or a new truck engine. Investors, feel free to call me.

Birkebeiner—Famous 34-mile American Nordic race from Cable to Hayward, WI. Not to be confused with the yuppie-favored strapped leather sandals commonly worn with wool socks and condescension.

Poles—Used for balance and pushing power, Nordic poles are longer than alpine poles. And… that’s what she said.