Ken Roberts - - Cross Country Skiing

what's here

see also:  more ideas + reports | public discussion | more on XC skiing

Ski northeast Italy

date reported: 07feb25 (my skiing was at least a week before)

Sharon and I had a very fun week of skiing in Italy. Key findings:

  • Hoch Pustertal area around Toblach and Bruneck was excellent.

  • Monte Bondone further south near Trento closer to the main highway has very fun + pretty trails for a convenient daytrip.

  • Combining cross-country with other kinds of gliding on the same day works well for us (often driving our rental car to travel between them).

  • Comparing: Hoch Pustertal has a wide variety of cross-country skiing options, and with prettier scenery and better snow coverage than lots of other places.

Details below . . .

Hoch Pustertal

This is a big valley in Südtirol, the German-speaking region in the north of northwest Italy. The Italian name of Hoch Pustertal is “Alta Pusteria”, and each of the key towns has an Italian version of its German name: Toblach = Italian “Dobbiaco”, and Bruneck = Italian “Brunico”. For lots more info see:

They say they’ve got more than 400km of groomed cross-country ski trails. Actually nothing close to that distance is all connected -- but there are several well-connected networks, each large enough on its own for a fun day -- and the count of those networks is enough to keep most of us busy for most days of a week.

Skaters are full citizens in Hoch Pustertal. We did not find any trails that were designated as “Classic only”. Every trail we skied was groomed for skating.

I believe there’s a ski bus that accesses all the larger trail networks in Hoch Pustertal, but we had a rental car (with snow tires + chains) which made it more convenient for us, and also opened a wider range of cross-country options and also backcountry touring and downhill riding+skiing.

Dürrensee area -- optional to/from Toblach (? connect Cortina ?)

The trail network around the Dürrensee (“Lago di Landro”) / Schluderbach / Passo Cimabanche offers views of some very spectacular mountains: Cristallo, Drei Zinnen (Tre Cime), Croda Rossa. (racers note: the Tobbiaco-Cortina course goes thru there). I dropped Sharon off at the Dürrensee lake and drove down to Toblach stadium and parked. She skied classic some by the lake, then down to Toblach.

Meanwhile I skated the more interesting route up from Toblach -- though the climb was long, most of it was so gentle that I felt like a hero going so fast up it. I gave Sharon the car keys when we met along the way (luckily she had made the same route choices as me) -- then continued past the Durrensee taking the hillier loop further southeast which took me up close to the spectacular Cristallo-scharte backcountry tour which Gi and I did last year, then down to Schluderbach, and on back down to Toblach to meet Sharon at the car. (Too bad our time was limited that afternoon so I didn’t have time to also ski the World Cup courses near the Toblach stadium -- or perhaps skate all the way to Cortina?)

Antholz (“Anterselva”)

Trails just as much fun as I remember from last year (thanks to Ricardo’s recommendation), and more sunshine made the lake and surrounding mountains prettier. This time Sharon and I did a serious backcountry skiing tour starting from the Biathlon center parking lot in the morning with lunch up at a mountain hut, then skated the excellently-designed rolling biathlon trails and Sharon classic on the lake in late afternoon. I still haven’t gotten the chance to ski up to pass -- like I saw some skaters and lots of (non-motorized) sledders, or ski down to the lower villages.


Pleasant wide valley, with a few significant hills. We bought trail passes at the pizza restaurant / gas station. I dropped off Sharon at a higher village and parked down pizza place, then skated up. Earlier we had seen another group of classic skiers met by a (German-language) guide-service van down even lower -- so we’re not the only ones who thought of doing one-way mostly-downhill ski tours -- I’d guess that similar could also be done with the ski bus.

Panorama-loipe (above Sexten + Kreuzberg pass)

This tour was a strange mix: Pleasant mellow trail up high which required steep or difficult driving or hiking to get access to it on both ends. More odd was that the two big “panorama” views were at each end -- with only a few glimpses from the “loipe” connecting between then. I actually saw one skier with a second set of collapsed hiking poles attached to his backpack. Next time I’d try the ski trails around there which are easily accessible from the main road thru Sexten.

Pragser Wildsee

We did not ski this one -- though we intended to. Our plan was to drive up the road until we reached the winter closure gate, then ski the rest of way up to the Wildsee lake. But we kept driving and driving thru several little villages and then we were at the lake. It had not occurred to me that they would have constructed a skating-wide trail completely separate from the road. I got out and looked at the lake -- and somehow I didn’t feel like driving back down and then skiing back up to it again that same afternoon (unlike the Dürrensee area). But two skaters arrived, and they looked pretty satisfied with their accomplishment.

Instead we drove back down partway, then turned up the other valley fork southeast toward the Plätzwiese (“Prato Piazza”). We saw some interesting-looking ski trails by the road lower down, kept driving to the winter closure, and again were amazed that the road was plowed higher than we guessed (or felt safe with) -- and higher up there was again a wide trail constructed separate from the road -- which people were _sledding_ down. By then it was so late in the afternoon we were afraid things were getting icy so we were glad just to get our car back down to a wider fully-cleared road.

other things . . .

which will have to wait until next time:

  • ski the “international” trail between Sillian in Austria and Innichen in Italy.

  • ski the other trails around Moos + Sexten + Kreuzberg pass + Fischleintal.

  • ski the “World Cup” trails by the Toblach ski stadium.

Monte Bondone / Viote (near Trento):

This was a delightful surprise made possible by the Net. We had been thinking about skiing places closer to the big cities and the Milano airport, and we found Monte Bondone on -- a website which offers lots of info about XC ski centers in the southern regions of northeast Italy, including trail maps. The Viote trail map looked kind of interesting, so we checked the snow conditions report on and they reported 18km open.

The overnight flight from New York arrived in Milan Malpensa at 8:00 in the morning. We drove our rental car east on the A4 to Verona, then north on the A22 to the Trento Centro exit. There were signs for “Monte Bondone” immediately off the exit. Soon we made a left turn off the SS45bis and started climbing + climbing + more + kept climbing thru a lift-served downhill ski center. Then the road reached this gentle meadow, and it was Viote. We bought cross-country trail passes and Sharon rented Classic skis.

And the trails were so delightful with rollers and curves. With close views of three peaks of Monte Bondone. Distant views of the rock towers of the Brenta Dolomite mountain group. All trails groomed for skating (as we’ve come to expect in countries with young modern seriously-passionate skiers: France + Italy). I just wanted to keep skating each loop more times. Sharon stayed out skiing so long I was afraid she’d miss returning her rental skis. Then we continued driving over down the west side of the mountain, with more views of Brenta mountains and a nice drive through the valley and back to the A22.


Hoch Pustertal against the “correct” places in Austria:

  • skaters are full citizens in Italy (massive contrast to Ramsau, smaller contrast to Seefeld with key connector trails designated “Classic only”)

  • many trails around Toblach are generally North-facing (contrast to Ramsau)

  • many km are up at higher altitudes (contrast to small km at Ramsau)

  • snow coverage last week: all the major trail networks in Hoch Pustertal with solid coverage and grooming on all except a few low south-facing trails -- while most of Austria had only a few high km open, or had stopped operating completely.

Against our favorite places in the northern Alps of France:

  • high quality fun trail designs: Antholz + Monte Bondone are comparable to La Feclaz, Les Saisies, Bessans -- but those French networks have more km fully connected.

  • scenery visible from some of the XC ski trails in Hoch Pustertal (especially the Dürrensee + Cristallo) is a bit more spectacular than our favorite XC trails in France. (but for backcountry ski touring it’s sort of around equal).

Ski northwest Italy

date reported: 07feb28 (my skiing was a few days before)


Cogne is in Val d'Aosta. It was a low snow year, and some of their hillier World Cup race trails were closed and any trails below the main center -- but the trails for touring up the two high valleys were open. Good mountain views, especially up Valnontey toward the highest peak in northwest Italy, Gran Paradiso. I felt the villages were pretty, with an understated "Aosta" architecture of wood and stone. I skied up to the top of both the Valnontey and Lillaz valleys, and the "blue" and "red" race course trails which were open. It was interesting to explore both of the high valleys.

The trails I skied were pretty hilly -- and not the "rolling" kind of hills. Some long moderate climbs, and some rather steep climbs. To see the best mountain views with less hill-climbing, looked like could drive (or take bus?) up to village of Valnontey, then go higher up to Valmiana (though didn't seem like going a little higher to Erfulet added much to the view). Seemed like both trails connecting the main Cogne ski center to Valnontey were had substantial sections steeper than most of what was above Valnontey.

Ski western Austria

date reported: 07feb25 (my skiing was at least a week before)

Galtür / Bielerhöhe (Silvretta)

Skating up into the Bielerhohe / Silvretta area from the southeast was interesting and pretty as an up one way and back down the other -- with some moderate shorter skiing up high in between. They did a nice trail design, and I'd do it again. Nice option for finding snow at high altitude (Wirl is around 1670m and Bielerhohe is around 2036m).

After skiing on my heavier mountain equipment from the lifts around Ischgl + Samnaun in the morning thru early afternoon, I wanted to ski some groomed cross-country trails in late afternoon. So I drove higher northwest to Galtür and asked about the trails, and they said there wasn't enough snow yet for the trails between Galtür and Ischgl, but the trails up to Bielerhöhe were nicely groomed.

So I drove up to the end of the road in Wirl, and started skating up the closed road. Seemed moderate for a while, then it got flatter, then moderate again, then very steep. Then I saw another groomed trail crossing the road.  Much less steep, not real wide, but just wide enough for the narrow short-stroke skating I needed for climbing. Pretty evenly graded so it wasn't too steep. Too bad I'd missed the first section of it because I'd been so focused on the main wide road.

Then I made it to the hotel at Bielerhohe, and it was pretty, and I saw some more groomed trails, so I skated a loop a little ways down the north side and back up, then west across the dam, and then down. I followed all the variations I'd missed on my way up -- next time I'll remember to look for them. My guess is that using these variations off the main road makes the distance a little longer than what the trail description shows, and makes the grade of the higher section less steep than the profile shows.

Next time I also hope I'll be able to allot more time for more exploring around the high area.

A few years ago I had taken the lift and tunnel-bus (?) up into Bielerhohe from the north side. My memory is that was less fun -- not enough groomed-track skiing up high to be really interesting for me, without doing a full day (or more) ungroomed backcountry ski tour.


There wasn't much snow around, so in the morning I skied on my heavier mountain equipment from the downhill lifts way up high on the glacier. For cross-country skiing it seemed like the only groomed trails holding snow were above south from Tux, around Juns + Madseite. I parked started near the higher end skating on the groomed tracks (I also saw a small number of parking spaces near the lower end -- ? and might be some to access the middle?).  I think it was about 5km down and 5km back up -- mostly on two different trails, mostly groomed plenty wide for skating -- but there were some short sections where there was only a single trail, and it was groomed only with two sets of Classic tracks.

I skated the whole thing twice -- saw some other skaters. Trail design interesting enough so I felt like doing it all twice. Scenery -- interesting how the trails went near different buildings, then into open fields, sometimes thru some trees.

Kind of a long drive up the valley just for 10km cross-country ski trail -- but a fun 20km after a morning of something else nearby. And if there were more snow lower down, could do more cross-country skiing on more km of trails (though not connected to these Madseite + Juns trails).

Ski Switzerland

date reported: 07mar2

(see also 2008 report)

Goms - Oberwald - Ulrichen

I started at the ski center in Oberwald and skied most of the hillier trails down to Ulrichen and back and the hilliest loop southwest from Ulrichen. Big wide valley in the parts I skied. Lots of flat + gentle sections, groomed wide for skating (also classic tracks) -- and lots of people out skating as well as classic. Hilly trails did not have interesting rolling design, just a hill workout. Distinctive is gentle terrain to visit different villages.

One problem I encountered was finding public parking near ski trails as I drove up the valley from the west. It was overcast and snowing some, so perhaps I was having trouble seeing the ski trails. I did find parking just east of the Oberwald train station, and then I walked about 300 meters to southwest to the ski center. An Oberwald ski center building is pretty close to the Oberwald train station, and I saw a big group of people arrive on the trail carrying their skis.

Lötschental - Blatten

I started at the main parking area in the village of Blatten (WC + rentals of skis + snowshoes + purchase trail pass nearby). Pretty villages with old-style wood houses.

I skied east up the valley to quiet village of Fafleralp (no road access in winter, and only say one inhabitant) -- and to a viewpoint above the village, then back the same way. Looked like they had groomed the closed road -- nice and wide for skating (and also classic tracks).  The route was mostly a continuous climb, and got kinda sustained steep near the top.

Sharon and I had skied down to Fafleralp from a week-long backcountry ski mountaineering tour up on the high glaciers of the Berner Oberland -- but I couldn't see much of the view because it was snowing that day.

I didn't try any trails lower down the valley because I couldn't see any public parking near a ski trail. The Loetschental valley is overall kinda narrow. Loetschental is on the north side of the Rhone valley, near the south end of the rail tunnel near Steg.


date reported: 07feb25 (my skiing was a few days before)


Overall: Pleasant skiing on a sunny day among different places, some very populated and modern, some older and remote.  Not the most fun trail design, but good enough to keep it interesting. Not the most spectacular valley in Switzerland (at least on the Skating-permitted trails), but plenty pretty enough on a sunny day. I'm really glad the local cross-country skiers have organized it. One of the best two XC ski places I know in eastern Switzerland.

Unfortunately the ski trail up to Sertig Doerfli is groomed for only Classic skiing, and Skating is not permitted on it -- because when Sharon and I skied classic up into there a few years ago, I thought it was rather pretty and the restaurant was rather nice. But this time I was skating, so I didn't get to see it.

I drove up to Davos for cross-country skiing because they had snow at a time when not many other places did. I'd skied Classic there a few years ago, so I wanted to see how it felt to me now Skating. I parked near Frauenkirch and skied all the trails open for skating except the one southwest down from Frauenkirch.

The little loop climb SSE from Frauenkirch was nice. But the connection high to the Sertig Doerfli trail was too hilly and narrow to be worth it for me -- hard work without being a good ski. First time that day I accidentally followed the horse trail from the little gentle loop to make the connection to the Sertig trail. The hoof-prints made it hard to ski, but I still thought it was easier and better than the high ski connection.

Then I skied the perimeter counter-clockwise to Davos, then as high as could go skating up Dischmatal, then up as high as the skating-grooming (clockwise) goes toward Fluelapass. I found doing the Fluelapass loop clockwise kinda interesting. A couple of steep switchbacks on the climb, but otherwise reasonable for me. Then I thought the return downhill was worthwhile -- especially as i added the the two short steep climb variations (left turns) in the midst of the descent.

On my return SW to Frauenkirch, I did the low easy trail on the other side (NorthWest side) of the creek.  The upper part of that trail is marked and groomed for Classic, but I double-poled most of it. In the SouthWest direction it's mostly downhill or flat -- just had a couple of rather short / moderate uphills. I would not want to try it on skating skis in the opposite direction.

Next time I think I'd again start near Frauenkirch, and again ski mostly counter-clockwise (except the Fluela loop clockwise).

If I found out that they had somehow made it half-possible and permissible to try skating up to Sertig Doerfli, I'd try to make "next time" come a lot sooner.

Olympic video clips on the web

posted to xcskiforumrec.skiing.nordic 07jan20:

Subject: old Olympic video clips on the web 

I found some video clips about 1-3 minutes each for some Olympic medal winners indexed from this group of pages:

Any other videos like these out on the web?

Here's videos that I found so far from before 2000:

1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Oddbjorn Hagen - (equipment and technique looked different then)

1968 - 1972, Grenoble + Sapporo: Magnar Solberg - (Classic biathlon)

1980 Lake Placid: Thomas Wassberg - (for everybody who's skied the last 300 meters and across the finish line at Mt Van Hoevenberg)

1984 Sarajevo: Thomas Wassberg - ("marathon skate" technique)

1988 Canmore: Gunde Svan - (no more need be said) Thomas Wassberg Tamara Tikhonova and USSR relay team Frank-Peter Roetsch in Biathlon

1992 Les Saisies: Stefania Belmondo Vegard Ulvang Bjorn Daehlie against M DeZolt in the 50K Free Norway relay team with Ulvang + Daehlie Antje Harvey in Biathlon

1994 Lillehammer: Manuela Di Centa in 30K Classic

1998 Nagano: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in Biathlon Bjorn Daehlie

2002 Soldier Hollow: Stefania Belmondo, 15K Free Samppa Lajunen, Nordic Combined

2006: Sergei Tchepikov on Russia relay team in Biathlon

There's also other skiers there with no videos, but with story and photos.


more . . .

see also


concept words: ski skiing cross country cross-country xc snow skier skiers skis nordic roberts report