Friday, February 1, 2013

XC Ski Advent(ort)ure

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The beautiful, white, fluffy Swedish snow that we have makes me really want to strap on a pair of cross-country skis and head out into the woods.  I pictured myself gliding gracefully amongst the evergreens, passing the red old former farmhouse-now cafe, and feeling very nordic as I ski my way home.  Cross country skiing is like walking right? Walk, glide, walk, glide. That's how it works.

After watching one youtube video on how to cross country ski, we thought we knew all we needed to know about the topic.  Jon put some sticky wax on the skis where red lines indicated it should go (thankfully we bought skis for dummies) and slippery wax everywhere else.  We were looking good and feeling ambitious on the walk down to the cross country trail out of our front door.

It's really nice to live within walking distance to groomed xc ski trails, so we figured this would be our replacement for running as physical exercise.  We can just strap our skis on and go.  The winter here is too long, dark and cold to stay holed up in the house all day, so let's get out and feel the wind on our faces.

We get out to the trails and after I successfully get my boots into the skis, I realize that all of my muscles are tensed trying to keep myself upright.  The youtube video promised that we would be able to change our weight back and forth without falling over.  YEAH RIGHT!  These things are like rather long, floppy appendages that slip and slide all over the snow. There's no way I'm able to shift my weight without falling over.  Thankfully the tracks are pretty set and just keep my ski in the groove.  One important thing the introductory youtube video didn't mention (notice how I'm blaming my ignorance on the very helpful 4 minute video?) was how to brake while skiing.  After nearly running Jon over a few times, we decided I would go first so I wouldn't have to worry about stopping without the aid of gravity and friction.

It wouldn't be so bad if the Swedes around us all haven't been skiing since they were 3 years old.  No joke, they are all wearing Helly Hansen competition-like spandex -- the sight is intimidating.  No, they aren't training for a biathalon or the next olympics, they are just out for their afternoon ski after work.
Move outta the way - experts coming through
The skis are truly an extension of their feet and they just whiz by, effortlessly.  Another thing working against us was that we were completely oblivious to the unspoken (but still known) "direction" to the xc ski trail.  Apparently, we were skiing counter clockwise instead of clockwise -- very much against the grain.  All of these people kept skiing towards us and each time, I would hop off of the track and let them pass.  This is exhausting and kind of annoying since it seemed whenever I finally built enough momentum, I'd have to pull off to the side.  Little did I know that if I just turned around, the faster folks could just pass me on the left.

When my parents were in town, we would take turns heading out to go skiing.  We learned that the first 30-45 minutes of skiing is the coldest.  Your hands are stumps of ice and your jaw freezes into a drooly grin - not attractive.  We made it to the cafe and decided to head back to home. Both of us were completely frozen zombies and the paths were ice-death tracks.  I can't really ski so I rely on the tracks to keep me, well, on track.  Some of the tracks were broken which only served to result in one ski trailing off farther and farther away - much wider than shoulder-width.  In my mind I'm like, "no, no no! come back!"  By the time we were near the house, our hands had warmed up but at that point, we were committed to hot chocolate and cookies.  

I will say that the more I try skiing, the better I feel.  I'm going to stick it out at least 10 more times to see if I improve.

So a few lessons learned:
  • Stay with it until your hands warm up
  • Watch a few more youtube videos for tips
  • Winter is too long not to take up skiing - gotta view it like jogging in the summer
  • It's all about the technique
What I look like in my head
    What I actually look like

Just...leave me

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