Monday, January 20, 2014

Cross-country skiing--snow day #1

I do not usually post things with pictures of myself but this is a momentous event—I am taking cross-country skiing lessons!  This post is mostly for my grandchildren to show them you can learn do anything even when you get to be as old as a grandmother.

Here we are at Steven’s Pass Nordic Center getting ready for the first day on the snow, which turned out to be more like ice due to the weather conditions and lack of snow.  I am wearing multiple layers and look a little heavier than normal because of it.  But when I fall down there will be extra padding and all day I will be warm and happy instead of cold and miserable.  The backpacks are to put the extra clothes in if we get too hot skiing and have to remove a layer.  Cross-country is an aerobic sport and it is pretty easy to heat up with the exercise.  We were repeatedly cautioned about snow blindness (wear sunglasses even when it is overcast) and sunburn (use sunscreen if it is overcast). 

The small lodge is located on the eastern side of the pass not far from the summit where the alpine skiing takes place.  That lodge is much bigger, attracts many more people, and is quite a bit more expensive.  

The Nordic Center parking lot was solid ice and very slippery.   Several people fell in the lot even before they put on skis.  The beginners, such as I, were able to use the small inside lunchroom where it was warm.  The intermediate and advanced students and teachers ate lunch outside. 

Before we put on the skis we did a few stretching exercises.  Our instructors made pretend falls and illustrated how we should get up if we fell.   One thing we learned to do was called “dead bug” and it involved putting our legs up in the air to untangle the skis before we tried to get up.  Note:   we are standing on solid ice.

For these lessons all my equipment is rented, boots, poles & skis.  But I was lucky, everything fit and seemed to be the correct size so when I purchase my own set I will know what to look for.

Putting on the skis was not too difficult.  The boots have a metal bar that slips onto pins in the bindings attached to the skis.  Cross-country or Nordic skis are narrow and about the same height as the skier.  The heel of the boot is free and lifts up, as the strides alternate a little like skating.  To undo the binding we learned how to use the pole to poke the point into the release button on the ski.  That way we did not have to bend down and risk a fall in order to take off the skis.

We started without poles first.  I am still trying to find my center of gravity and not fall down!  The idea is to look ahead and let the skis glide in the tracks.  That is harder to do than it sounds as the natural inclination is to look at the track and lean back if the skis start to go too fast.  That adds up to a fall.  Things I need to really work on improving.  The falls are not very pleasant.

Ooops, but I do fall down; seven or eight times by the end of the day.   Look at my hat tassel.

It was easier with the poles but I still fell down now and then.  The best thing was that I had G as my instructor and had lots of one on one.  She was terrific and I hope she will help me next week too.

Bob took pictures and gave encouragement.  It was wonderful to have him there.  G took this photo of the two of us.  (He already knows how to ski so he doesn’t need the lessons.)

ski rack

There were 33 people in our complete class but we were divided into much smaller groups based on ability, experience, and age (I think).  That meant the group I was in had only 4 students and two instructors.  Perfect for a beginner.  We stacked our skis and poles in this device when waiting to get started and also at lunchtime.  The skis all looked alike to me so I had to remember where we put ours by the place rather than the appearance.  

Packing up boots, skis, poles

My very first ski pass!  I am ridiculously pleased to have this pass . . .

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