Gliding Through the Snow

It wasn’t until I was in college that I ever did any snow sport more ambitious than sledding. While a student, I borrowed a snowboard and boots and went snowboarding. My first experience was skiing at Brighton on a cold, icy night (hey, two for one lift tickets for night skiing!). I didn’t venture far from the bunny slope.

Over the next two winters, I went a total of five times. I went to Sundance, The Canyons, and even went to Steamboat Springs on a road trip with some friends. I was finally starting to get the hang of things and felt somewhat comfortable carving a bit. Then I got married before the next season and never went again. I never tried downhill skiing and never tried cross country, either.

Yesterday was my first experience with skis strapped to my feet. We went to a “Winter Trails Day” hosted at Ogden Valley Nordic Center in Liberty, UT (about an hour north of me). They waived trail fees, had free gear rental, and also had some vendors demonstrating equipment, waxing techniques, providing free food, etc. I took five Boy Scouts with me so we could complete the Snow Sports Merit Badge.

Being neophytes to the sport of cross country skiing, we all stuck to classic style (where you essentially glide in a track with your skis always parallel and never leaving the ground). I had a blast. I really enjoyed the aerobic side of the sport, and the opportunity to be out in the snow in something besides snowshoes. I look forward to doing this again, but with fewer people — it got pretty crowded due to the free nature of the event.

One funny thing: the boots you wear when cross country skiing aren’t rigid like they are for downhill skiers. This is probably because you need some flex in your shoe when cross country skiing — you actually lift your heel with every glide and rigid boots wouldn’t allow that very comfortably. Well, to click in to your ski, you’re supposed to put the toe of your boot on a latch, push down, and watch it click in place, therefore connecting your feet and the ski. Since I essentially only have half a right foot, I couldn’t do that very easily. I pushed the toe on that right ski but the boot essentially compressed / collapsed (imagine you’re wearing shoes too big — now stand on your tip toes and see what happens). I actually had to ask the other adult who came with us to help me by pushing down with his hand on the toe of my boot so there was some weight/structure to force the boot in place. Things you don’t think of… Sigh!

Group of skiiers

Five Boy Scouts and two leaders at Ogden Valley Nordic Center in Liberty, UT.