Cross country skiers socializing on the ski trail

When it comes to the rules of right of way on cross country skis, here are the general guidelines:

Head-On Approach

When two skiers are approaching each other head-on, the skier heading uphill should yield to the skier going downhill. To do so, the uphill skier should step out of the classic track, allowing the downhill skier to stay in the classic track.This is because the skier heading downhill generally has less control. However, it's important to be considerate. If you come across a kid or a beginner skier struggling uphill, it's best to yield to them regardless of the direction. And remember, it's good practice to yield with enough distance to avoid any last-second surprises.

Catching Up With a Skier

If you are skiing faster and approaching a slower skier from behind, it is your responsibility to pass safely. Instead of startling them with a loud "track" or scaring them out of their wits, simply step out of the classic track and ski around them. Give them enough room to continue skiing without any unwanted disruptions.


When you are ready to pass a skier in front of you, it's important to do so with caution. Before stepping out of the classic track, look over your shoulder to ensure that no skier is coming from behind in the skate track. This simple act of awareness prevents collisions and keeps everyone's skiing experience smooth and enjoyable.

Give Way to Sit Skiers

Whenever possible, consider giving way to sit skiers in most scenarios. Standing skiers have an advantage in maneuverability because they utilize both their upper and lower body, while sit skiers rely solely on their upper body for propulsion. Additionally, remember that sit skiers must lift (pop) the sit ski to exit the classic track, a challenging task for those who are new to skiing.

Tucking on the Downhills

When you find yourself in the exhilarating tuck position, make sure to keep your poles close to your body. Avoid extending them out to the sides, as they can snag or impede other skiers as you pass by. Maintain control and be mindful of your surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable skiing experience for all.


It's worth noting that the rules of right of way can vary slightly depending on the specific ski trail or location, so it's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with any posted signs or local regulations. Additionally, common courtesy and respect for fellow skiers go a long way in creating a harmonious and enjoyable cross country skiing environment.



Cross Country Ski Areas Association

Cross Country Ski Areas Association Cross Country Skier Responsibility Code:

  1. Always check posted trail conditions and obey all signs and posted warnings.
  2. Always stay in control. You must be able to stop or avoid people or objects.
  3. Stay to the right when meeting oncoming skiers.
  4. Before passing another skier from behind, announce your presence and ski around them when safe to do so.
  5. Do not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible by others.
  6. Do not access/use terrain or trails when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  7. If you are involved in a collision or incident, share your contact information with each other and a ski area employee.

Winter sports involve risk of serious injury or death. Your knowledge, decisions and actions contribute to your safety and that of others.
If you need help understanding the Code, please ask any ski area employee.

Learn more about Cross Country Ski Areas Association »

About the author:

Marcin (Martin) WiesiolekMarcin (Martin) Wiesiolek is an experienced ski instructor specializing in cross country, Alpine, and adaptive skiing. He also holds a position on the Educational Staff of the Professional Ski Instructors of America, Rocky Mountain Division. In addition, Marcin serves as the head coach for the Colorado Mesa University Cross Country Skiing and resides in Grand Junction, Colorado.