By Jess in Minneapolis
Yesterday, Dustin and I took a ski-skating lesson at Hyland Park through the Three Rivers Park District. I signed us up several weeks ago, and I’m glad I did because yesterday was a beautiful warm winter day.
We both have cross country skied a handful of times in our lives, but only in the “classic” technique. I had heard that “ski skating” would be much harder than classic…and it was. It was impossible! At least for me, it was. I just couldn’t get it.
It didn’t help that I was pretty tired (maybe just a touch hungover) from my friend Sam’s CD release party at Honey the night before, but it didn’t take long before I became really frustrated with myself during the lesson. Why was it so hard for me?
Of course, Dustin got the hang of it right away, and I was left behind just trying to stay upright and move forward. Ugh.
It didn’t get any better throughout the hour and a half lesson. The instructor tried his best to help me, but this was a large group lesson, and he really didn’t have the time to spend with me to work through my “issues.”
Here’s the thing- skate skiing is very different than classic. It involves transferring your weight from one ski to the other, supported by the inner edge of the ski on the snow. Its supposed to look a bit like ice skating. The skis are shorter and stiffer than those used for the classic technique, and the poles are longer. Honestly, it looks pretty easy. But something wasn’t clicking for me, and I guess I wasn’t in the right mindset to stick with it. I suppose I basically gave up, and I was ready for the lesson to be over. When it finally ended, I allowed myself a short “pout”…well, I wallowed in my grumpy mood for a little too long….
A bit of background- I grew up in Wisconsin, where our closest “ski” hill was Cascade Mountain outside of Wisconsin Dells. The term “mountain” in its name is a bit of a misnomer. Its barely a small hill, and even at that, I only skied there a handful of times in my childhood. In college, I took one trip to Aspen with a boyfriend, but I was never all that comfortable on skis. When I started dating Dustin, he wanted to teach me how to snowboard. I was happy to leave skiing behind and pick up boarding instead.
Here we are on one of our first “ski” trips together, in Vermont. Dustin was learning to telemark ski while I learned to snowboard.
Let me tell you, learning to snowboard was not easy. The learning curve was quite steep. That first year included multiple tears being shed. I spent a lot of time on my butt. I fell thousands of times, and I often became really frustrated with myself.
But now, eight years later, snowboarding is one of my favorite winter hobbies. Even though learning to snowboard was hard and humbling, I stuck with it, and now, I really enjoy it. The struggle was well worth it.
With that said, I feel like I can’t give up on learning to skate ski. I need to stick with it.
If you would have asked me if I’d try it again immediately right after the lesson, I definitely would have said no way! Now I have had a little more time to digest my experience, and I don’t want to walk away from what could potentially be a really fun winter hobby. After all, Dustin really enjoyed it, and there are hundreds of cross country trails near us that we should really take advantage of over the winters.
I was really disappointed with myself today- disappointed that I couldn’t do it, and disappointed that I gave up. So, mark my words- I am not giving up! I am going to sign up for a private lesson, and give it another try. Fingers crossed that with a little one-on-one coaching, I will at least learn the basics and be able to join Dustin in this winter activity!
You might also want to consider REI ski classes. I took a “classic” cross country ski lesson at Theodore Wirth last year, and there were 20+ people in the class. The instructor, while knowledgeable, couldn’t provide the kind of attention that I wanted/needed. I left the park feeling frustrated and annoyed that I couldn’t ski. So a few weeks later, I tried a class through REI. There were 6 people in the REI class, and while I still have a lot to learn, this lesson was a lot more personalized. The instructor was GREAT, and I left feeling confident that… Read more »
Thanks Katie for the recommendation! I am going to look into REI, since it sounds like you have had such good luck.