Last week a good friend of mine left town for a new job down south. Before hitting the road, she did an epic farewell tour, crossing things off her list of things to do in Steamboat Springs. We both wanted to try Nordic skiing, so we went to the Haymaker Nordic Center.
Neither of us had ever done classic skiing and I only Nordic skied a few times in fifth grade gym class in Vermont. I had recently learned the moves, however, while backcountry skiing at Bluebird Backcountry.
We considered taking a lesson, but figured we could do just fine on our own, even if we weren’t doing it 100% right. We just wanted to spend a few hours outside on a nice day and leave saying we had tried something new.
Nordic gear is like the backpack version of ski gear. Everything is so small, light and easy to manage. The boots are soft and comfortable compared to all other winter sports boots.
I had no reference on how skinny skis move and react to adjustments. I put on my alpine skis and I have the impression that they are an extension of my leg. I can move them around however I want, and I know how they will react to everything from a toe flick to a change in direction. Those skinny uppers that barely fit under the width of my foot were weird.
My friend had never skied before, and she did wonders! Throughout the afternoon, she only fell a handful of times. I fell twice just trying to figure out how to get up the first hill.
I had never been in this situation before. Normally I can navigate even steep slopes with alpine skis just by skating. That didn’t seem like an option here. I was trying, but the movements weren’t smooth and didn’t amount to much. I had to find something soon, so I could help my friend up the little hill to start the bunny earring.
The classic track was smooth despite a very hot day. I was expecting sticky snow, but our skis couldn’t find anything to hold on to. We found that the classic off-trail movement was the most efficient way to get up the hill.
Yes, I know that’s probably incorrect. Next time I’ll take a lesson and learn the right way. We were just there to have fun, and once we got up the hill the fun started. Classic skiing is so slippery and relaxed.
“We could have been really good at it,” my friend said.
If only we had started the sport years earlier, rather than days before she left town.
People commented on the weird conditions, and we just nodded like we’ve seen a lot of the conditions in our time as Nordic skiers, and yes, it was weird. We had no idea, but it made us feel better that we were doing pretty well on the slippery snow.
We gained confidence on the skis as the afternoon progressed. We did a short loop around bunny ears, repeated some of it, then switched to Fox Trail as we were going faster than expected. A few kind people offered advice when we said it was our first day, which I’m sure we didn’t need to say. Our technique, or lack thereof, probably alerted them long before us.
Next time we will be better educated but we managed to spend an afternoon together doing something new and enjoying the sun.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again: people should always seek to learn new things. It’s humbling, it reminds us that we don’t know everything (which many people can benefit from), and it’s just plain fun to try out a new skill.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.