Unofficial Guide to Rails XC Skiing

Welcome to the Spooner Nordic Ski Team!  This is a great team—You will have a ton of fun!


Register for the team on-line. Middle School students must also register on-line for the SMS after school program prior to the first day of practice.  Scholarships are available by emailing to request consideration. 

During registration, please also sign up for Membership to Rails On Trails.  This membership money is designated for trail maintenance and grooming, which is an integral and HUGE part of our sport!

Sign up for WhatsApp:  Our team communication app!  Join our WhatsApp Spooner Nordic Team Group here:

Preseason Potluck: Extensive season information will be given at the preseason athlete and parent potluck.  This event is mandatory!  Generally, this takes place in early November.

Equipment: Plan and prepare equipment for the season.  See below for more information on gear and equipment.  Rental Equipment Distribution afternoon will be just prior to the season.

New Moon Night!  New Moon Bike and Ski hosts our team for an evening and helps set people up with equipment.  The coaches will be there to help and assure you get the right equipment.  This event generally takes place in late October.

L50 Certification and SafeSport: Parent volunteers and athletes that are 18 or will turn 18 during the season must complete SafeSport Training.  See below for further information.  Parent volunteer coaches will be asked to complete the L50 on-line certification (as of 9/22, not yet available).  The L50 course includes SafeSport. More information below.

Get Vaccinated:  Flu shots and COVID boosters are recommended.  Getting ill could make or break race season! Skiers work their bodies hard, have the stresses of school, and have more exposure to the elements.  These things can weaken their immunes system, so vaccinations are more important in XC skiers.


The team uses WhatsApp for communication.  (Change in 2022 from Remind to WhatsApp). 

This app allows for parent to parent communication and smaller group communication.  You can also create larger “groups”.  In addition, coaches can send longer messages if needed.

Skiing is reliant on many unpredictable variables!  Coaches will communicate knowledge as soon as it is planned, or as soon as we find out about a change.  Planning often cannot take place until we have a good sense of the weather!  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the coaches with questions. 

New families to skiing can easily feel overwhelmed!  Try and connect with parents and families that have been a part of the team for several years—they have a TON of knowledge!

All the coaches are volunteers with jobs outside of skiing.  We all try and communicate as efficiently as possible, yet sometimes this is delayed due to other work demands. 

About Cross Country Skiing

Skiing is an awesome sport!!! We have a ton of fun outside, playing and hanging out together in the woods!

All athletes will learn and compete in two styles of nordic skiing, classic and skate skiing.  Each style requires its own equipment.

Classic skiing:  This is the traditional form of skiing.  Skiers ski in the straight parallel tracks.  The skis are longer.  In the middle of the ski, there is a “kick zone.”  The kick zone is where we put sticky wax called klister or kick wax.  When the skier puts all their weight on one ski, the ski pushes down, then the wax sticks to snow and keeps the ski from sliding backwards.  Some skis use fish scales or hairs instead of kick wax.  The tips and tails of the ski have glide wax. When the skier stands evenly on both skis, the sticky wax doesn’t touch the snow, and you glide down the hill. 

Skate skiing:  This looks more like ice-skating.  It is done on a wider trail.  The skis are pushed side to side. The whole ski will have glide wax.  There is no “kick zone.”  These skis are shorter than classic skis.

Ski Equipment: “Take care of your equipment, and your equipment will take care of you.”

*Make sure all equipment is labeled with skier’s name

Classic Skiing:  Skis: Longer and have a “Kick zone”
                 Poles: Shorter and Shoulder height.
                 Boots: Shorter at the ankle, and the sole is more bendy
Skate Skiing:  Skis:  Shorter and less flexible.
               Poles:  Longer and Nose height.
               Boots:  Taller and more stiff. 

Choosing skis:

Cost: In general, the more that you spend on skis, the faster they are.  Newer athletes don’t need the nicest skis.  As athletes progress, the skis will make more of a difference.  This is generally notable by their 2nd or 3rd year. 

Size:  Ski selection is largely based on the skiers height and weight.  Our athletes are growing quickly!  Therefore, it is important to have skis re-fit every year, and even during the year if your athlete gains more than 10 pounds!    

Fleet:  Advanced high school skiers could have several pairs of each classic and skate skis.  They develop a “fleet” of skis.  The reason is that each pair of their skis will be best in different conditions.   E.g, some skis are better in cold conditions and others better when the snow is soft and warm. 

Ski bag and storage:  All skiers need a ski bag!  Label and decorate your bag!  Skis should be placed in ski ties!  Tips of skis go to the top of the bag.  Handles of ski poles go to the bottom of the bag.   Keep the tips of the skis and top of the bag up for storage.  All skis will be stored at the HS ski shed.

Skiers are responsible for putting their skis, boots and poles away properly after practice.  Should the coaches bring the skis for races, the coaches will gather the ski bags.  Skiers are always responsible for their own boots.

Rollerskiing:  Sport specific training in the offseason and early season before snow is best done on roller skis.  Our team has a limited supply, reserved for newer skiers.  There are both classic and skate Rollerskis.  Skiers use classic or skate poles, however the poles require sharper tips.  These tips, called ferrules, can be bought at a ski store.  You then removed the baskets with heat and put on the ferrules.   Helmet is required.  Gloves are recommended.

Obtaining Equipment:

Rental: Rails on Trails has equipment available for rent for 1st and 2nd year skiers as well as athletes on scholarship. Our equipment is best suited for entry level skiers. 

Buy: More experienced, committed skiers are encouraged to buy their own equipment.  


Kick wax:  It is recommended that each skier have their own kick wax cork, and a basic set of kick waxes.   This makes it much faster for everyone to get wax on for practice.

Glide wax:  Liquid waxes have made this much easier!  Just rub it on, let it dry and brush it off with a ski brush.

Wax cleaners:  Skiers can prep their skis at home by getting them cleaned.  Please remove kick wax with kick wax cleaner or a heat gun, and also clean the glide zones with glide wax cleaner.

Wax Clinic:  We plan to have a clinic to teach basic waxing.  It would be beneficial for athletes and parents to attend!


Time and location:  After school on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays at the High School.

***New this year all kids will start and end at the High School.

HS (Grades 9-12) 3:30-5:30, Meet ready outside at ski shed.
MS (Grades 5-8)  4-5:30, Meet at High School.

* MS and St. Francis: Take the after school bus to the High School.  You can change in the High School Locker Rooms.
* Homeschool:  Meet at High at 3:30 or 4 depending on your grade. 
* Kids from other Districts: Meet at High School at 3:30 or 4 depending on your grade.

What to wear/bring

Avoid Cotton! Please wear athletic, moisture wicking material

*Running shoes—will be used during dryland season and at the beginning of practice 
*Water bottle with belt recommended 
*Watch recommended.  Helps kids get back on-time! 
*Base layer: moisture wicking under layers next to the skin; wool or non-cotton socks 
*Middle layer: thin fleece type top or thicker moisture wicking layer for colder weather 
*Top layer: Athletic pants or ski pants and wind breaker or ski jacket 
*Hat, gloves that can get wet, glove liners if cold 
*Glasses recommended.  Ski poles are sharp-protect your eyes! 
*For roller skiing, you will need roller skis, helmet, gloves, boots and poles with sharp ferrules 
*For skiing, please have both skate and classic equipment available on each day

Practice: Workouts vary and include training for stamina, intensity, recovery, technique, speed, agility, strength, balance, coordination, mental preparation, team building and fun.  Skiers are well-rounded athletes!

Come prepared: Arrive on time. Always bring a water bottle and a watch. Fuel up with healthy food choices before and right after practice. Skiers should eat a healthy snack within 30 mins of a workout.

Get adequate sleep, don’t sabotage the hard work you’re putting in!

Weather:  We are outside everyday unless there is very severe weather.  Dress Well!  If weather is severe, we will practice inside at the MS or HS, and notices will be sent via remind.

Team Apparel

Race Suits—the team has bought suits with fundraising money.  Please take care of your suit throughout the season.  They wear easily, so wash separately and hang to dry.  Suits are returned at the end of the season.

Team warm-up jackets and team puffy jackets:  Buy these on your own!  Buy them early so athletes have them for the season.  Parents sell used ones that are too small! 

Other team apparel:  On-line early season sale!  Get warm-hats


Race Types

Starts: Relays, Individual Start or Mass start.
Distance:  Sprint races .5-1.5K or Distance races of 2-3K for MS and 5-8K for HS.
Style:  Classic and/or skate

For instance, the Spooner Dash is a mass start distance skate race and the Hayward sprint is a classic individual sprint.  Skiers race both classic and skate and all distances.

Courses:  The terrain and snow conditions vary widely.  The courses are well marked. Coaches and volunteers are out on the course.  We try and ski the course before the race.

Scoring: Skiers are assigned points based on their order of finish. The top 3 finishers determine the team score. Lowest score wins. The 4th and 5th place finishers are used for tiebreakers. Most meets are electronically timed and results are posted and communicated as soon as possible. Awards are usually given to top teams and top individual finishers of each race.

What to bring to races:

-Boots, skis and poles.

-Uniform top & bottom.  Long underwear layers for under suit, wool socks, gloves, hat, buff, glasses

-Warm up jacket and warm up pants

-Warm winter coat and boots, mittens, hat.

-Change of clothes (long underwear, socks, hat, gloves) to get out of sweaty uniform and long underwear when done racing. Warmer layers to wear pre/post race.

-Water bottle. Hydrate prior to the race!  And after!

-Snacks. It is important to eat simple carbohydrates 60-90 minutes prior to skiing and within 30 minutes after. Think carbohydrate & protein combinations.

Spectators:  Dress very warm and bring your cowbell!  It gets cold standing and watching.  You may walk out on the course, but please do not walk on the ski trail.   Ask your athlete where they prefer you stand.  How can you best cheer for them?  What things do they want you to say when they ski by?   After the race, say “I love to watch you ski.”  They will tell you more about the race if, and when, they are ready.  Avoid questioning, as studies show this makes athletes more likely to quit sports!

State Meet

When: The State Meet will consist of two weekends of racing, the first and second weekends of February.  The first weekend is sprint racing, and it will take place in Madison.  The second weekend weekend is distance racing, and this takes place in Cable.

Qualification Criteria: Given the time, energy, and money needed to travel, athletes will need to qualify for the state meet.  Athletes can qualify by finishing within 75% of the top skier in their division at the conference meet and/or by placing in the top 5 for the team.  Should an athlete be sick, injured, or “on the bubble,” then qualification may be made by coaches discretion.   Qualification for the state meet is an excellent goal for athletes!

Varsity Letter Criteria

1) Athletes abide by the Spooner Athletic Code.

2) Athletes remain in good academic standing.  (We will be conducting grade checks.)

3) Additional criteria:

 * Practices: Attend 90% of practices.  Come on time and is prepared.  All absences excused. Injured athletes assist at practice or establish alternate practice plan.  All athletes must be on the team for the full season.

 * Racing:  Participate in greater than 80% of meets as a high school varsity skier.

  * Automatic Qualifying Results: Top 20 at state and/or Top 10 at Conference

   * Results: Top 50% in more than half of the races

  * Attitude: Positive effort, attitude and work ethic.   Represent our school/community/team well.  Demonstrate good sportsmanship throughout the season.

  * Coaches Discretion- based on leadership, commitment, contribution, improvement, and number of years on the team.  Using discretion, coaches may both offer a letter and withhold a letter.


Safe Sport is now the standard certification required by all US sports.  The goal of Safe Sport is to

“Build a sport community where participants can work and learn together free of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and misconduct.”

Wisconsin Nordic Ski League requires Safe Sport completion as outlined by U.S. Ski and Snowboard for the following people:

              1) adults who i) have regular contact with athletes, or ii) have authority over athletes (e.g all coaches, volunteers, chaperones, wax helpers, etc)

              2) athletes who will become 18 years of age during the upcoming membership year to complete the U.S. Center for SafeSport training on or before their 18th birthday, provided that such athletes under 18 have the consent of their parents or legal guardians

Course completion can be done at U.S. Center for Safe Sport.    

XC Ski Athlete Agreement


  1. To ensure the safety and well-being of every participant.
  2. To respect that all participants have the right to receive the best program possible without interference as a result of the inappropriate conduct of others.
  3. To represent Rails on Trails in a positive manner.

Code of Conduct

Athletes will:

  • Be kind.
  • Understand the value of a Team.
  • Include and encourage all skiers.
  • Not use alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs.
  • Work hard and challenge themselves.
  • Use acceptable language at all times, and speak positively of others.
  • Uphold standards of honesty and integrity.
  • Show self-control and consideration for others at all times.
  • Respect equipment.
  • Have the inherent right to learn.
  • Set measurable goals and work with the coaches to achieve these goals.

Daily Training Rules

As a Spooner Nordic Team athlete you agree to:

  • Be on time for designated training sessions and team activities.
  • Notify your coach if unable to attend practice or any scheduled team activity.
  • Dress in a responsible manner for the day’s weather.
  • Stay safe.  Report immediately to a coach any potentially unsafe situations.
  • Ski on designated trails for that day.
  • Take care of your ski equipment.
  • Listen to and respect coaches, parents and volunteers.