Friday, January 31, 2014

Cross-country skiing -- snow day #2

The ski class had its second snow outing last week.  There had not been any new snow during the week.  Originally each outing was supposed to be at a different place but with no new snow and not much snow at all it was decided that we would go back to Stevens Nordic Center again because it is at a higher elevation than some of the other choices and did have a little old snow anyway.  The existing snow is groomed by one of these monster machines that grinds up the hard pack snow and puts new tracks in for cross-country skiing.

The snow-cat

Even with the grooming the snow is now pretty old and very hard and icy hence falling down is most unpleasant.  And falls did happen several times again.  All beginners fall down so I was prepared for that eventuality.  Some progress was made but not as much as hoped.  After lunch I was tired and fell a couple of times right away, unfortunately landing on a previous sore place and had to call it a day.  In two weeks we go again, this time to a “back country” or ungroomed area where we will have to make our own tracks in the snow.  My main goal was to be able to do a snowplow and learn how to slow down and stop on an incline.  I thought I had only done this twice and was feeling discouraged about the lack of progress but Bob had been taking pictures and proved to me that I had actually managed a snowplow and stop several times. 

My very patient instructor G demonstrates how to do a snowplow while I watch her.  We are skiing in the tracks so it is necessary to lift a ski out of the track and then make the snowplow.  That means putting all the weight on one leg while going ever faster down the hill before the plow is completed and the slowing starts.  It is very easy to lose balance and tip over.

Proof that I can do it!  My rental skis do not have metal edges.  The metal edges are supposed to help a lot with the snowplow when going down and with the herringbone and sidestep when going up a hill.  G could force the metal edges of her skis into the hillside when going up in the sidestep while my skis could not anchor into the hillside properly without the metal edges and just kept slipping downward.  That equals another fall.  All the cross-country skis have what looks like fish scales in the middle (camber) to aid in traction so it is possible to “stomp bugs” and walk up slight inclines with skis on, however, if the hill gets too steep it means using either the sidestep or the herringbone (looks almost opposite to the snowplow with the skis pointed outward instead of inward).  We tried both methods.  

The practice area had a very gentle slope but it was enough to feel like whizzing down pretty fast. 

After falling and landing twice in the same place I am no longer exactly smiling but as you can see from the pictures I am skiing after a fashion.  I am looking forward to the next snow outing.  The rental fees were beginning to add up and when we saw a good deal on buying equipment we went for it.  The bindings are being mounted but my own skis, poles, boots and bindings should be ready to try out by the third outing.  The new skis will have metal edges and it has been snowing in the mountains so it is hoped that the third outing will be a wonderful event.

This week the group had four people again but not all the same folks as the week before.  I was very inspired by one woman who is not as old as I but probably the closest to my age.  She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and not letting that stop her.  Another younger woman had had several knee surgeries and had a brace on her leg but she continued to stick with it too.  The only man in the group had fallen almost as many times as I had the week before.  He was doing great by lunchtime but like me elected to quit shortly after lunch.  The leader of the class is very kind and acknowledged that beginners often get tired, urged us not to give up, and promised that we could do as much or as little as we were comfortable with. 

Look at this—two ski passes!

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