Cross Country Skiing (1/25/14)

Cross Country Skiing (1/25/14)

Last Thursday afternoon, I had a lesson with a cross country ski instructor, Les.  When I left our house, it was 30ish, sunny, and no wind.  I dressed for that kind of weather but at the last minute, threw a few extra layers in the car.  Halfway to the Nordic Center, I started noticing drifts of snow across the highway that only occur in, you guessed it, high winds.  By the time I got to the Nordic Center (about 7 miles away from our house), it was 20 degrees and windy.  I was super glad I brought the extra layers.  This gal is finally learning.

The instructor and I put on all our gear, and skied our way into the trees to get out of the wind.  Talk about a fish out of water – I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing!  I kept hearing it was “just like walking.”  Uh huh.  My only ski experience to date has involved a love/hate relationship with downhill skiing.  I love the idea of it, hate the practice of it!  So, I was trying to apply downhill skiing to cross country.  Not exactly helpful, but I was quite happy to be out of the wind!

We worked together for two and a half hours, including when Les made me drop my poles, go uphill, and come back down.  I did it, although I was skeptical, but as Les said, “you’ll be going about four miles per hour!”  In other words, man up, girl!  Afterwards, I was glad he had done that.  Introducing the poles was another level of coordination, and we all know how good I am with that!

The last thing we did during the lesson was go through the trees down a small hill, with several turns.  I watched Les and then followed.  I completely “locked up” at first, having gotten some speed.  On my second attempt, I made turns and kept some decent form.  Not to toot my own horn, but by the end of the lesson, Les seemed impressed with how quickly I picked up the form.  It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but the leg does add a level of complexity.

The whole thing was a wonderful experience:  I left our house with a bit of snow on the road, but got out without another up close and personal meeting with the ditch (Ditch 2, Jen 1).  I got to the Nordic Center, skied and had a blast, took Scarlett for a long walk and for a visit to the dog park, and got us back home, once again missing a dance with the ditch (Ditch 2, Jen 2).  Why do I feel like I am jinxing myself??

I was very, very hopeful I would be able to say this after the experience – I LOVE CROSS COUNTRY SKIING!  I have a winter sport I love!  I watch the weather/snowfall for a purpose!

I went back to the Nordic Center on Saturday, and felt like I was starting from scratch!  But, I went through everything Les showed me and got comfortable again.  It was a beautiful day, but a bit icier than lesson day.  Conditions made me practice out of the two-track in some areas.

XC - Nordic

XC - Nordic 1

I took the same route we went on Thursday, ending with the patch through the trees.  I gave myself a pep talk, made a plan, and told myself, “I’m going to do that… and then wreck.”  Ahhh, my brain.  So, I talked myself right into wrecking.  In my defense, conditions were a bit faster than on Thursday.  As soon as I turned my skis downhill, I started sliding and wasn’t really ready yet.  Then came the fear, then the adrenaline, and that, for me, equals whole-body lockup.  Pure survival instinct made me move enough to miss two trees, but then this..

XC - off track

That track off to the left, yep, that was me

XC - Tree

Hello tree! Thanks for catching me!

I had slowed enough to “bounce” myself off the tree, but because I went off the groomed path and into several-feet deep snow completely stopping momentum, down I went.  I was not going very fast, and there was nothing dangerous, or scary (other than being up one minute and down the next).

After I recovered (mentally), I got up and made myself do it two more times.  I consider this trip a success as well.  Even though I took a fall, I didn’t get hurt (always my main concern), I know what I did wrong, and learned from it.  As I write this, we have another three inches of fresh snow (and more falling), and I’m planning my next trip to the Nordic Center!  I have to get good enough to go other places (West Fork, Lake Fork, Silver Run) so Scarlett can come and get worn out!  I think for now, she’s pretty happy with the deal we have going with the follow-up long walk and dog park visit.

XC - Bunny

But, when can we ski together?

Oh, Scarlett, you’re always ten steps ahead of me!

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