. What I found out was – Nordic and Cross Country technically ARE NOT the same thing. Cross-Country is one element of Nordic Skiing. Nordic is technically defined as any skiing discipline that involves the use of a ski binding where only the toe is attached. That would include: Cross Country (and all of it's sub-categories); Telemark Skiing; and Ski Jumping. Alpine is any discipline where both the ankle and the toe are bound to the ski. This would include traditional downhill, pipe & park skiing, ski ballet, slalom, giant slalom, etc. Etc. Alpine Touring (or Randonee) also falls under the Alpine category. However, most people use the terms "Nordic" and "Cross Country" interchangeably, and they refer to everything else (downhill) as Alpine. It can be confusing. . Telemark skiers usually ski downhill, and while some venture into the off-trail areas, most stick to the slopes, so they tend to get lumped into the Alpine category. However they use a totally different turn, which is actually a Nordic turn. So there is some overlap in the cetegories as well. As well. . Width of the ski is only part of it too. Some XC skis are as wide as the narrowest alpine skis. While most of the XC skis are thin, those used for backcountry XC skiing in deep snow tend to be wide and have edges. The TRUE difference between alpine and cross country skis is the camber. Alpine skis have "single camber" and when the bases are placed against each other, there is little or no space between the skis. XC skis have "double camber" and when the bases of those skis are placed against each other, a wide gap will exist between the center parts of the ski bases. This is what gives XC skis that nice "spring" that allows for travel on flat surfaces. Also, XC skis sometimes have a rough base (like fish scales) that allow for uphill movement. I have friends who use these wider XC skis with edges even at lift-serviced ski areas and can ski downhill on them.
Jason Parkin shows us how easy it is to begin the fun sport of cross country skiing.