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Après-ski Blogging

The 2011 Winter Trails Day and TUNA Demo Day today out at Mountain Dell golf course.

My first time on skis.

My first time even near skis.

All of the rentals were free (I guess that makes them more “borrows”). With the help of the volunteers at the event, I found some boots that fit, some classic cross-country skis appropriate to my size, and some poles that were too short for my height.

My friend Heidi took a lap on skate skis while I waited for a classic ski instructor and a large enough group of learners to hold  a class. About the time Heidi got back, we were setting out, and she came along to offer me moral support.

Al. I think he's saying, "Bend your knees!" and "Bring your hips forward!"

The class, overall, was awesome. It was free, and it lasted darned near two hours. Al and Julie, the instructors, were patient and explained things thoroughly. Julie was especially patient and helped talk me down from the little tantrum I had trying to figure out how to snowplow down the little hill.

Practicing without poles on flat ground. My backpack was my security blanket. I didn't take it off the entire time.

On flat ground, I did pretty well. Give me anything remotely inclined, and I was sliding with little possibility of stopping. I found myself becoming annoyed with people who insisted on positioning themselves downhill from me. They clearly didn’t have a strong sense of just how little experience I had on skis. (I was actually the only one who’d never been on skis before. The others either had only done alpine skiing or they’d only gone out cross-country skiing once or twice.)

The good part: I really enjoyed getting into the rhythm of the “diagonal pattern.” I even did pretty well “double-poling.” On flat (or virtually flat) ground.

Herringboning up the hill with Al as my personal guide.

The not-so-good part: Anything involving hills. This is where I lost it. We practiced herringbone up a little hill. This was bad enough. I fell, I think, only twice doing this. Al came down the hill and gave me one-on-one coaching while the rest of the class, having already successfully scaled the hill, stood at the top watching me. I thought this was pretty bad.

But then we had to go downhill. This was for the purpose of practicing the snowplow technique to slow ourselves down. I could get my skis straight and start accelerating down the hill, but then I’d panic and I couldn’t figure out how to move my skis into a snowplow position. I fell, both intentionally and unintentionally, about 73 times before I just gave up and started dragging myself down the hill with my arms. This was when I had my tantrum.

“Are you scared?” Heidi asked. I was sitting on the ground trying clumsily to get my skis out from underneath me.

“I’m just tired of falling,” I said. “I’m angry. And I’m so frustrated!” At this point I began beating the snow with my right pole. I felt myself start to cry. And I didn’t even care.

“Just take a deep breath,” Julie said, coming up to me. She coached me through the steps necessary to stand up again, pausing after each step and reminding me to take a deep breath.

I stood up somehow, and chatted with Julie and Al and Heidi while the rest of the group disbanded. I admit, I hated the other people in the group by that point, just because they’d made it down the hill.

Heidi, Al, and Julie all reminded me that this was the first time I’d been on skis and that I had done remarkably well and that I should give myself a break.

Have I mentioned I hate not being good at things?

Overall, though, I enjoyed it. And that’s the tough part. In order to go cross-country skiing, at least around here, there are going to be some small hills. I can’t realistically take off my skis and hike along the footpath every time I want to make it to a flat trail.

What I remember from the class:

“Bend your knees!”

“Don’t lean forward!”

“Bend your knees!”

“Don’t stick your butt out!”

“Lead with your knees!”

“Bring your hips forward!”

“Bend your knees!”

“Press into your heels!”

“Press into your arches!”

“Bend your knees!”

“Be looser in your upper body!”

“Swing your arms!”

“Bend your knees!”

Will I go again? Heidi wants me to. In April, I can buy a nordic kit used from REI for about $40. Until then, I can rent for under $20 a pop. I’d kind of like to go again. If I can mentally get passed that first hill. Maybe on a weekday when no one else is around to see me fall 57 times before I get to the flat trail.

On the positive side, my new waterproof insulated clothing? Worked brilliantly.

It’s “Explore” month, which means I need to try new things. It doesn’t mean I have to like them.

But I really did enjoy the rhythmic aspect of the flat part of cross-country skiing. And I was surprised to find that, for a few seconds at a time, I actually felt comfortable and happy on skis.

And I feel like I’ve really earned the après-ski cocktail I fixed for myself. (A City Slicker from Drink of the Week. We have no peppermint schnapps or vanilla vodka, so I couldn’t make a more traditional après-ski cocktail.)

4 thoughts on “Après-ski Blogging

  1. Pingback: Week 38 Review: I like you. Do you want to be my friend? « Imperfect Happiness

  2. It takes a while to get good at either kind of skiing. Give yourself a break! And starting as an adult makes it harder b/c you’re scared you’ll hurt yourself (or your pride, as the case may be lol). Take consolation from the fact that it will take you a year or so of doing it on a fairly regular basis to really master it.

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