Funny how things I used to abhor have become things I’ve grown to love. A handful of cases in point: olives, the colour green (Hm. Connection?), coffee, sundried tomatoes and cross-country skiing.
All of those progressions were natural, with the exception of skiing — I put a lot of effort into that change of heart. When I was a kid, nothing about cross-country skiing seemed all that fun. It was cold, there were hills and it was hard work. Now, those are the things I enjoy most.
My attitude change happened a few years ago, when I came to grips with something obvious: it’s cold in Calgary. So, instead of hibernating inside a gym all winter long, I decided to make the most of our winter months and find some outdoor activities to love. That’s when I told my parents I was considering cross-country skiing for the first time in years. Next thing you know, they’d outfitted me with gear. There was no turning back.
Since then, I’ve taken refresher classes at Canada Olympic Park with my friend, Sarah. She would fall while in motion; I would fall when we stood still. We were quite the pair. I’ve also shown up at the Canmore Nordic Ski Club for a leisurely ski with my friend, Emma, only to find a world-class competition on the go. We were intimidated, but we persisted. (On a different track.) And I’ve skied a few times with my dad, when I’ve visited my parents in Edmonton.
I’m by no means a pro at this point, but I’m improving; much of that has to do with tips from my dad. Here they are, in no particular order:
- It’s okay to put wax for warm weather on top of wax for cold weather, but not vice-versa.
- Pretend you’re jumping from rock to rock in a stream. When you land, think of crushing eggshells and then kicking them back.
- It’s better to be warm and remove layers than to be freezing. Lately, my cross-country outfit consists of my new Burton long underwear (Santa, or my friend Kelly, really came through this Christmas!), my Helly Hansen jacket, my Canada Goose toque and my Craft ski pants.
- Hold your glide to make the most of your stride.
- Push yourself. It’s fun to see how fast you can go, how hard your body can work. Every time my dad and I ski, I chase him around the track. He always wins.
- There was also something about how to blow your nose without a tissue. I figure if something grosses me out that much when I’m just listening to instructions, it’s not a lesson I’d like to learn.
- Laugh. During our last outing, dad was giving me tips on how to tackle the upcoming hill. Halfway up, one ski slipped out from beneath him. Looking back at me, he said, joking, “I thought I’d show you how a groin pull works.”