10 January 2016


I've gone cross country skiing thrice this winter. The first two times were remarkable, if the remarks being made happen to be about how miserable one can be while cross country skiing. 

The first time, I raced back from State City to get to the rental place in time. They were very nice there, if somewhat unable to make the calculation from US to European shoe sizes, which was maybe a bad sign. (They brought me boots three sizes too small, and then proceeded to bring one size bigger at a time, until someone finally looked at the chart.)

I managed to wedge the skis into my little car, and then onto the roof of SHO's car, and things were good.

Except that the skis appeared to have last been waxed never. I collected an inch of snow on the bottoms of them every few minutes, so that they stuck in the wet snow instead of gliding, and I'd have to hold my skis up sideways so SHO could knock the snow off of them. And that was after two rounds of waxing on the trail.

So that trip was beautiful and fun, but also a lot of work.

On the next trip, the snow had melted and then iced over, and most of the sno parks* we tried were crunchy and slippery. We ended up at the Nordic section of a downhill ski area, where you have to pay to use the trails but also they groom the trails. The trails were still ice, just ice covered in a bit of snow, and the trails were not all easy trails. Most of them were intermediate. (Read: hills.)

My basic survival strategy was to careen down toward the right and crash into the ice bank on the side of the trail, then get up and careen down toward the left and crash into the ice bank on the other side of the trail. It hurt and it sucked and I hated it. After way too long of this, I finally gave up, took off my skis, and marched off down the trails back to the Nordic center. There was self-pity involved.

The Nordic center is mostly staffed with older people who are like wizards on skis. They zip around effortlessly. One of them told me, as I was sitting in the warmth trying to recover from the adrenaline of all the thinking I was about to crash into a tree and bash my head in, that there are skills one can learn to help deal with the ice.

Then and there, I vowed not to go cross country skiing again until I took a lesson.

* I'm not spelling this wrong. They are actually called sno parks. It's very annoying.

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