Cross-country skiing in Nova Ponente

Manuel Demetz

Cross-country skiing in Nova Ponente

Sun, snow and stunning scenery

A winter wonderland full of thick fir trees and snow-covered meadows, giving way to the craggy peaks of the Dolomites framed against a clear blue sky – that is what I have been promised by Helene, a cross-country skiing enthusiast from Nova Ponente, who has kindly agreed to show me around the region on skis.

The renaissance of cross-country skiing

In recent years cross-country skiing has thrown off its outdated image as a sport for old people only. Today you will find plenty of youngsters and families out on the trails. “Skating is becoming more and more popular these days,” says Helene, referring to the faster and more dynamic of the two cross-country skiing techniques. It isn’t hard to see why – the sport trains the cardiovascular system and all the muscles from head to toe, but the risk of injury is minimal. I admire Helene’s graceful style as she cruises along the freshly groomed trails, fully aware that it takes lots of hard work to make something seem quite so effortless. Time permitting, Helene tells me, she tries to get out on the trails every day. 

Nordic skiing in the southern Dolomites

Before we set off on our adventure together I take a look at a map of the cross-country skiing trails around Nova Ponente – a huge network crisscrossing the region. I soon discover that there are plenty of options for skiers all abilities, from total novices to ambitious experts. Most of the trails are to be found on the sunny plateau between the Catinaccio and Latemar mountains, where the peaks of the iconic Corno Bianco and Corno Nero mountains rise to the south. Oh, and Nove Ponente just happens to have the most hours of sunshine of any place in the entire Alto Adige province :-)

Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself

Today’s challenge, as selected by Helene, is the Wölflhofrunde. At almost 14 kilometres in length it seems a little intimidating at first, be Helene is quick to reassure me. “It’s almost flat – there are just 190 vertical metres from start to finish. You can do it!“ It’s my first time back on cross-country skis for ages, so it takes me a while to get used to the technique. Soon, however, I find myself gliding along in the warm sunshine – arms and legs moving in a steady rhythm. Today we decide not to stop off at the Wölflhof, a hut next to the trail, and instead to push on. “If we stop now and sit down in the sunshine then we won’t ever get going again,” warns Helene with a friendly laugh.

We turn off at the Wölflhof and head into the forest before climbing up onto a small plateau above the valley floor. The view of the snow-covered Latemar mountains is breathtaking. I take a look at my GPS watch and am surprised – not to mention a little proud – to see that we have covered 10.7 kilometres already. “We were pretty fast, weren’t we,” I say. Helene smiles and pushes off. I imagine her definition of fast is probably a little different to mine! 

Up onto the Lavazè Joch ridge

The final section of our adventure takes us back down to the starting point. I have to admit that I am pleased to see the finish line – 15 kilometres is plenty for my first time back on skis. Those with more energy than me can explore the many other trails in the region around Nova Ponente. All in all there are 40 kilometres of cross-country skiing trails – and if that’s not enough, there’s always the nearby Laab Alm, where three more circular loops await, including one up onto the Lavazè Joch ridge. Next to many of the trails you will find huts serving food and drink: Unterkaplun, Wölflhof, Sport Center, Laab Alm, Neuhütt Alm, Schönrast and Schmiederalm to name just a few. There is no better way to round off a day of cross-country skiing than with a little bit of dolce vita and cucina italiana in the sun!

Back at the hotel I suddenly realise how tired I am – cross-country skiing is a beautiful but exhausting sport. It is this physical challenge combined with the breathtaking landscape and the opportunity to explore nature at your own pace that makes this sport so enjoyable. Cross-country skiing is accessible to everyone, whatever your age or ability. See you out on the trails around Nova Ponente!

Manuel Demetz

Planning new routes, testing new bikes, discovering new valleys and mountain trails – these are Manuel’s true passions! His bike is almost always on his mind – not just when he works as a Content Scout at clicktext, the South Tyrolean agency for corporate content...