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As I completed my fourth day of cross-country skiing last Saturday, with several bruises resulting from falls going downhill as I was barely able to control myself, I was curious: Why don't cross-country skis have edges? I can't think of any downside to them, as far as I am aware, they would only enhance control going downhill. Please enlighten me if I am missing something.

  • Metal edges and the construction needed to support them are heavy. – Charles E. Grant Jan 20 '15 at 17:29
  • even with modern day ultralight metal alloys? – amphibient Jan 20 '15 at 17:31
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    It's isn't just the edge. A ski with a metal edge has to be beefier to deal with the increased stress and strain. A plain XC ski is optimized for kicking and gliding or skating on a prepared track, with limited downhill. If you plan on doing a lot of skiing off track, you can buy "backcountry xc" skis that do have metal edges. Or, if you really are into downhill and backcountry, you can buy "backcountry" skis that are almost as heavy and substantial as downhill skis. – Charles E. Grant Jan 20 '15 at 17:43
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    For the same reason that Hot Wheels don't have steering wheels. Because they ride in tracks. – ShemSeger Jan 20 '15 at 19:16
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    Metal edges also reduce the glide of the ski. This is why alpine racing skis have as thin a metal edge as possible. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Jan 20 '15 at 22:31
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Many cross country skis do have metal edges – I've owned many such skis. They tend to be backcountry XC skis though, not trail skis. Newer backcountry skis are fat and often practically indistinguishable from downhill skis other than for the bindings, but metal edges skinny skis used to be quite common.

For groomed trails or relatively flat, low-angle skiing, metal edges add unnecessary weight and provide little advantage. For more difficult trails and backcountry skiing, they're very useful to have.

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