Monday, February 15, 2010

Things I've Learned Cross Country Skiing

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned as a beginner cross-country skier. These things aren’t rocket science – and most folks who ski probably already know – but I feel like I’ve discovered them myself through my experiences.

Gear Matters: Last year I skied in Trevor’s Mom’s old school skis and boots. I appreciated them at the time for the experience they offered. I could experience cross-country skiing and I didn’t have to buy or rent gear to figure out if I liked it. We skied a good bit last year. While I gained confidence on flat terrain, the hills were always hard. This year, with new skis, boots, and poles, I felt much more skilled right from the outset. Maybe it has to do with a bit of experience. But I think, more likely, that gear matters.
  • Boots that support the ankles make it easier to control the skis. My ankles are little weak, so when I previously wore a pair of boots that didn’t support my ankles, when I would be struggling to move the ski and it resisted, I took a dive to cater to my whim to protect my ankles.
  • Skis are determined based on your weight. Too much or too little weight on skis will impact how they glide (or not) on the surface. Getting a pair that’s right for your body is important.
  • Don’t forget the goggles or glasses to protect yourself from in-the-face flying snow if you expect precipitation. It’s uncomfortable to squint and blink to deflect incoming snow while you’re navigating a turn or a “steep” hill.
Scissor the Legs: I discovered I could scissor my legs together for a better inner-leg work out and for a more seamless glide along the tracks.

Up hill in tracks: When going up hill in the tracks, engage the core and lean over the front of the skis a bit so you don’t stand as much of a chance of backsliding.

Up hill out of tracks: If doing the duck waddle up a hill, with the tips of your skis pointed out, don’t forget to dig in a bit with the tips of your poles just behind you. With a firm grasp there, you can recover more easily if you do slide back some. I also started using a smaller lift-drag of my foot and ski so that I wouldn’t chance stepping on my own ski and bringing myself into a crashing face plant.

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