During my recent trip to Switzerland I decided to try something new, togehter with my blogger friend Milos from Trendlupe: Cross-Country Skiing. And you should know: neither of us has ever been skiing before – EVER.
Milos and I were both sceptical, but we tried it and went for the classic trail – late in the evening. Classic-skiing involves moving the skies parallel to one another and it is easier than skate skiing, since it requires less physical effort. Although many people do their classic-skiing on groomed trails (where two tracks or slots are set in the snow), it is possible to do this type of skiing on semi-groomed trails, or even in the absence of any groomed trails at all. However, Milos and I solely did it on groomed trails, at least most of the time.
Our dialog after a few minutes: “This isn’t fun. It’s awful!”:D – Well, the thing was that we did not really had an introduction on any skiing basics – they just put us on the skis and told us to follow the trail. – Ehm, okay, WHAT?!
But it’s actually supposed to be like that. You have purchased, borrowed, or rented you cross-country skis, you have applied the right wax, you are properly dressed, you’re at the trail. Now what? Well, it’s really quite simple. Put on your skis, pick up the poles, get on the track, and GO.
You’ll naturally end up using a technique some people call the “shuffle”. It involves nothing more than sliding one ski ahead of the other, and repeating the entire process over and over again. Without even thinking about it, you’ll be pushing off with a kick stride, moving forward with a glide stride, and vice-versa. At the same time, you’ll intuitively use your poles for balance and to help push yourself forward with every stride. It’s very easy to do, and you will get in the swing of things after ten minutes.
But our performance and technique was still pretty poor, although we managed to find our rhythm and even tried to look elegant. The emphasis is on the word “TRIED”. :D
Alright, we managed to do quite a good job on flat terrain. But, now we also had to go uphill? Seriously?! These tricky Swiss people were really testing our fitness. That was pretty tough, using the standard shuffle technique. Another guide told us: “Once a hill gets too steep, you will have to use the herringbone technique. You do this by pointing the tips of you skis outwards and walking up the hill. The trick to successfully using this technique is to make sure the inside edge of the ski is angled down.” – HAHA, yeah, right. We decided to stick to our “technique” and were just a bit slower. But at least we felt comfortable.
This was the most hilarious part. The second guide asked us:”So, do you guys ski at all?” – We:”Ehm, nope. This is our first time.” – “Did you learn any basic techniques?” – “Nope!”. “Oh boy!”
You should have seen our faces. We knew we were going uphill, but now downhill, some parts outside the groomed trail without falling? Yep, OH BOY! – Well, what goes up must come down.
Going down a long gentle slope is fun and easy. Keep skis in the tracks and enjoy the ride. But coming down a relatively narrow trail on a steep hill can be scary and dangerous. Under these conditions, it is important to use the snowplow technique to reduce your speed. You do this by keeping the tips of the skis pointed inwards (see the photo). Again, the trick to successfully using this technique is to keep the inside edges of the skis angled downwards. This allows the edge to dig into the snow and maximize your breaking power.
Hell, yes, WE DID IT!
Our first 5k cross-country skiing adventure. It surely was a fun experience and I am glad I tried it!
photo credits: V’s World, Davos