Nordic skating in New Hampshire

Nordic skaters enjoying Squam Lake.

Photo by Elizabeth Kilmarx

Imagine hours of skating outside and no cold toes. A recent import from Scandinavia, where the sport has been popular for centuries, Nordic skating takes place on frozen rivers and canals where, instead of skating around in circles, skaters go on long-distance treks of up to 12 miles or more.

The secret to staying upright for such long treks on the ice? It’s all about the skates. Nordic skates are comprised of long blades with slightly curved tips that clip onto cross-country ski boots. The longer blades are better able to skim over bumps in the ice that would likely trip up conventional blades and the boots keep feet cozy warm.

To learn how to Nordic skate, Jamie Hess, the leading expert on Nordic skating in New England and the person credited with bringing the Nordic skating to the U.S., offers some pointers:

Where does Nordic skating take place in New England?

The center of the Nordic Skating universe is located less than a mile from the New Hampshire border, at Lake Morey in Fairlee, Vt., home of the longest machine-groomed ice skating trail in the United States (4 miles long). The trail is open early January to mid-March, with numerous events planned in that time window.

Any local spots where families could families try out the sport?

The Squam Lakes Association in Holderness and Little Squam Lake in Ashland occasionally have machine-groomed ice, but more typically it's 'wild skating' where we test the ice for safety as we go along – an activity better suited to adults than to kids.

For kids and families, I recommend White Park in Concord and Occom Pond in Hanover. They're way smaller than Lake Morey, but they're machine-groomed on a regular basis and good places to get a feel for the sport. The Dartmouth Cross-County Ski Center on Occom Pond rents out Nordic Skates which is the best way to get a feel for whether this is a sport your family will like. However, I say this is a winter sport your family will love!

You can find a list of Nordic skating events here.

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