Cross-country skier

Some advice from 2006 gold medal Olympian, Chandra Crawford

Chandra Crawford, of Canmore, Alberta, thrilled the country when she won gold in the sprint skating event in Torino in 2006. During her career, she's also won three World Cup medals-two gold and a bronze. And she helped start, with her teammates, Fast and Female, a nation-wide series of outdoor events for young women.

Ride a flat ski

"There's nothing like finding that sweet spot on a pair of cross-country skate skis and just riding out the glide," Crawford says. "It feels like in yoga when you concentrate on the space between the inhale and exhale...pure freedom." Balancing-meaning skiing on a flat ski rather than an edge-is not something that can be taught. It must be practised. "When most people start skiing their balance is poor," says Dave Wood, Crawford's coach.

Gear tip

Cross-country skiers obsess over wax, but more important than wax is the right ski, says Crawford's coach Dave Wood. If you live on the West Coast, where the temperatures are typically close to zero, a waxless ski is the best bet. For everywhere else, buy a ski that you can compress. "A lot of people buy skis that are too stiff," he says. And when it comes to waxing, keep it simple and read the can. "The regular cans of hard wax are very versatile and all you need," he says. Four to five layers should do it. "Buying a $150 chunk of wax is a waste of money for the average person."

Follow the leader

Timing is crucial to efficient skiing, but combining the pole plants, push-offs and glides into a smooth motion is hard. To improve timing, recruit friends with better technique and shadow them. Or follow other good skiers and try to mimic them for as long as you can. "When people pass you, copy their rhythm until they fade into the distance," Crawford says.