Thursday morning I finally got the chance to try out my new cross-country skis. There was a bus going to the track, and an instructor as part of the price…….something I could not miss out of. It has been 35 years, almost to the day, since I last strapped on a pair of cross-country skis, and I knew that I wouldn’t have any fun at all without some instruction.
I walked around in my boot with the alpaca socks on…… would they be too tight? would my feet hurt after just a while? They seemed OK.
Did I have good mitts or gloves to wear? It was very cold out, and threatening to only get to -17C. How many layers of clothing would I need? I had not tried skiing while we were in Norway, but I had gotten outfitted for the cold. Merino wool long-johns and shirt – check. Lined Norwegian wool sweater – check. windbreaker – check. Googles in case it’s too sunny – check. Ready to go.
I took Snoopy out in the dark for an abbreviated walk, and then impatiently watched the clock. Linda would be at the turnstile to let me through at 9:05. Should I wear my ski boots, or my winter ones with the grips? I was unsure just what distance we had to cover to meet the bus, and didn’t want to slip. OK – I would opt for safety and carry the ski boots.
At 9:04 I was locking the front door, awkward with the long skis and poles and knapsack with wallet, wax and boots. Linda arrived just a minute after I got there, and got me through. Darn, those skis were awkward.
We got to the Rec Center and paid the 250 rubles (about $8) for the trip. Soon the place was full of eager skiers. Alexey, the instructor arrived, and we stowed our skis in the luggage compartment and off we went.
Great chat on the bus – the new claw mitts that several people had discovered…. what wax would be correct for the conditions, and just general conversation among friends. It didn’t take long to arrive at Santaland, and we were out in the cold again, and up on the ski path, clicking boots into toe-holds and the three beginners wondering what next.
We walked up to a fairly level part of the trail. The snow squeaked, it was so cold.and off we went. On went the skis and off we went. I was having a really hard time getting going – my pushing-off foot kept sliding backwards. While I wondered if I had enough wax on my skis, I realized that it was much more likely that I was just not doing it correctly. All too often our problems are due to technique, NOT equipment failure. As we went along the trail, with Alexey’s coaching, I gradually got some glide into my step, and relaxed. And, of course, as I relaxed, I got more glide……..
We did some slight ups and down, tried some different poling techniques – I was having fun – and more important, I hadn’t fallen down. I do remember just how hard it was to get back up, and I know I don’t have the strength I had 35 years ago.
Nearly back to the beginning – and a medium downward slope ahead of us……. now, it was time to snowplow down. And I came out with flying colours…… the one thing I really did remember was how to herringbone up a slope and snowplow down….. and stop when I wanted to.
We tried part of the hill a second time, this time staying in the groomed path at the edge. Wow, it felt like I was going pretty quickly, and it took a while to stop, but I did it.
Off shopping this weekend, so hopefully when I go next week, I will be able to get more photos.
I was pretty stiff last night, but this morning, I feel like I could go again right away. Tuesday can’t come soon enough.