As much fun as downhill skiing is, let's be honest: gravity's the engine; your body is just the brake. While there's no doubt you can work up a sweat on the slopes, if you want a real, full-body workout, nothing beats Nordic (cross-country) skiing.
And there's no place better to either give it a try or take your skinny skiing to a whole new level than the trails in and around Whistler.
Long a prized destination for skiers and snowboarders, Nordic pursuits were the stealth surprise of a visit to Whistler. No longer. Having hosted the Nordic events of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler has made its mark in Nordic circles and will leave a lasting impression on anyone wanting to take part in the sport — at any level.
Tucked into the forest north of the village are over 30km of track-set trails winding their way around scenic Lost Lake. Take it easy on the relatively flat loop trail around the lake itself or huff and puff your way along some of the more challenging blues and blacks meandering up and down the adjacent slopes. As a bonus, there's even lighted night skiing. www.whistler.ca/xcountry
The hardcore action takes place south of town. Whistler Olympic Park was the site of the Games' action and has since become a major centre for cross-country skiing. Set at the entrance to the Callaghan valley, WOP enjoys a microclimate blessed with abundant snowfall.
The Olympic site itself includes 14km of trails, a spacious and comfy daylodge and the biathlon range. Nordic skiers of all abilities will find meticulously groomed trails, rentals and lessons daily. The more adventurous or sharper-eyed might want to give biathlon a try. Ski, shoot, ski, shoot, repeat until exhausted.
If you're more a go-the-distance kind of skier, there are an additional 35km of trails radiating out from the Olympic site. www.whistlerolympicpark.com
And if you're one of those people who believe there's never too much of a good thing, you can set your compass toward the Callaghan Country Backcountry Lodge. It's a 14.5km ski in and the reward once you make it is another 43km of maintained wilderness trails deep in the middle of Away From It All.
But far from being away from it all, Callaghan Country offers lodging, exquisite dining and the most peaceful setting you can imagine in a busy, world-class winter resort. www.callaghancountry.com
So strap on the skinnies and go get Nordic.