Cross Country Skiing & Biathlon in the Chamonix Valley

 
 

Maybe you know it as Langlaufing or Nordic Skiing: as a way to take a relaxing Sunday afternoon glide through beautiful scenery with breaks at enchanting buvettes or ... the best workout in the whole athletic world! The choice is yours.

Cross Country Skier in Chamonix
Skier using the traditional Cross Country Ski Technique
Close up of the Cross Country Ski Trail
Cross Country ski lesson with an private instructor

Techniques of Cross Country Skiing

There are 2 techniques, TRADITIONAL or SKATING. With traditional, the skier stands with the skis parallel, then slides each ski forward with an alternate, straight and exagerated stepping motion.

The Skating technique emulates the acceleration action when skating on ice. The skis are positioned diagonally with the tips splayed out and the tails almost touching. The skier thrusts forward over the ski. Skating should provide greater accelertion and speed but requires more energy and agility.

Two techniques requires 2 different ski trails. Sets of two grooves are cut by machine each night for Traditional skiers. In Chamonix, Skaters and Traditionals share same piste, so a flat 2-5 metre wide piste for the skaters is prepared adjacent to the traditional tracks. Skaters should take care to not allow a ski to cross the grooves. Skaters leave a herringbone pattern in the snow.

Equipment & Fashion Styles of Cross Country Skiing

The 2 techniques have 2 different types of equipment and even 2 different clothing fashions! Traditional skiers wear loose fitting clothes but lycra is almost obligatory for skating!

It's this range of choice, plus the suitability for children and the whole family, that makes Nordic skiing such a popular winter sport. You can buy or rent your cross country ski equipment from one of the mountain equipment shops in Chamonix Valley.

All trails are circuits which begin at a "Foyer de Ski de Fond" and are graded, like downhill skiing, into green, blue, red and black. Black being the most difficult.

At the "Foyer" buy a ticket - typically €6.50 for a day (adult), and pick up a piste map. Don't worry if the foyer is closed; set off anyway as the piste patrollers will collect payment en route - cash only - they don't carry credit card machines.

Chamonix Valley Cross Country Trails

  Les Houches Chamonix Argentière Vallorcine
Green 0.5km 9km 2.4km 1km
Blue 5.5km 5.5km 4km 6km
Red 10.5km 12.5km 9.3km 4km
Black - - - 5km

For a detailed look of the trails, visit our Chamonix Valley Cross Country Trails page.

Lessons & Cross Country Ski Instructors: For a lesson - particularly "skating", as the technique has to be acquired - don't ask at a Foyer. Enquire at a Ski School or check this list of Private Cross Country ski and Biathlon instructors.

Biathlon in the Chamomix Valley

Biathlon has generally become known as the combined discipines of Cross Country and small bore Rifle (usually target) Shooting. Close to the helicopter landing pad in the Arveyron sector of the valley, there is a designated 50m range.

Foyer de Ski de Fond Chamonix / Chamonix Cross Country Ski Office
Route du Bouchet +33 (0)4 50 53 11 15
74400 Chamonix Mont-Blanc