Recently, I started thinking about adding cross-country skiing to my list of activities. Swimming, biking and running are all difficult in seb-zero tempuratures, especially on icy roads. Living in a northern tier state, I needed something to do as cross training during the winter months. Living in a xc-skiing meca, it seemed like an obvious choice. Unfortunately, I have no experience with skiing.
Yes, I am Canadian.
Yes, I live in Minnesota.
No, I don’t ski.
I have strapped on skis exactly one time in my 40+ years of existence. I was eight years old. I wiped out…on the tow-line…for the bunny hill. I then retreated to the chalet for some hot cocoa. I was not the most athletically gifted child…
Althoug I took up running, cycling, and swimming in the last few years, I had some experience with all of those activities growing up. I rode a bike as a kid and took swimming lessons for years growing up. Skiing is completely foreign to me.
I started researching this online. I looked at clothing and had some of the basics in my cold weather running gear. The park where I cycle is converted to cross country skiing in the winter. Lessons and rentals are offered. So far, so good.
From what I could tell, there are two types of XC-skiing: Classic and Skate.
Classic is all in a straight line. Skies are straight and parallel most of the time. The poles are pushed straight back. In skate skiing, you slide your skis side to side (like skating). The techniques, courses, and gear are all different. From what I could tell, classic should be easier and skate should be for skiers with a little more experience. Lessons for both were offered at Elm Creek so I decided to try both (classic first) so I could get a feel for both. I was scheduled for my classic lesson on Thursday, but a winter storm made it impossible to get to the park in time. They were willing to let me transfer to another class. The skate class was this morning with the possibility of doing the classic lesion immediately afterwards.
I arrived at the park in plenty of time and got my gear. I met the instructor shortly thereafter. He noted that I should have at least a year of skiing experience before I tried skating. Too late. He suggested that I try to not get discouraged and to embrace the challenge. Sigh.
We skied a short distance to the practice field. Well, everyone else with skiing experience skied. I slogged over and got there eventually. The first thing they did was teach us how to get up after a fall. Afterwards, we did a bunch of drills. During those drills, I got a lot more practice at the getting up thing. Skate skiing needs a lot of coordination, which I don’t have. Having slippery boards attached to my feet throws off my center of gravity and all of my movements feel awkward. It reminds me of when I started to use clipless pedals on the bike. Having a bike attached to your feet takes some getting used to. Skies are the same…but with next to no traction.
Overall, it was clear that skating wasn’t for the novice skier.
An hour later, there was a classic ski lesson and I figured I might as well attemp that right away. It is supposed to be easier, the park was a long way from home, and I was discouraged enough to know that I may not come back if I left now. It was the same instructor and he thought it would be a good idea.
Many in this class had no skiing experience, or very limited. I swapped out my gear and lined up for the class. Parts were the same (I learned to get up again). Some of the drills were the same (but a little easier this time). Other drills were much easier. It was easier to maintain balence and a center of gravity with this technique. Of course, none of this is “easy”. I still felt very much like a fish out of water, but I think that I could work at this and get more comfortable at it. Maybe.
So, I will probably continue with classic and see if it gets any easier. Looking at the rest of the season, I doubt I will be doing much beyond getting my feet wet. The next three weeks are full and I will have no opportunity to ski. I may be able to get out weekly in February, but that is the tail end of the season. If I am getting better at it and can see a future, then I will look to getting my own gear at the end of season clearance sales. My 2015 running season will wrap up at the end of October (instead of mid-January like this season). A few more lessons early next season and maybe I can aim for an event next season (there is a local race at the end of January with a 10k, 20k, and 42k option…hello 10k). I am goal motivated and I would need something like this to keep me trying. But, realistically, a ski marathon (such as the Berkie) is a few years down the road (at best). But I can wrap my head aroud doing a shorter event next winter.
Is this the start of something new? I dunno. Maybe it is. It should be an interesting journey…