How To Become a Cross-Country Skier

By Gideon Mentie

At the beginning of the pandemic, being outside kept me from going stir-crazy. But as the winter set in I needed a little bit of extra incentive to brave the freezing temperatures and get outside. I surprisingly found that incentive in cross country skiing.

The 2021 skiing season wasn’t technically my first time on a pair of skis. A few years ago, I stole my father’s old skis while he was selling our childhood home. He hadn’t used them for a while, so I stored them in my university apartment and went skiing in the Rockies with a friend a few times. Little did I know that my dad’s white lacquer skis from the 80s, complete with neon pink stripes and bamboo poles to match, would eventually be my emotional support tools through a global pandemic. But that’s exactly what happened: I think that cross country skiing rescued me last year.

I called my college buddy and we set out one weekend to the West Bragg Creek day area. The parking lot was packed, which I soon learned is a regular occurrence. Regardless, we enjoyed an amazing day on the trails. This became a regular trip for us, and soon we had other friends joining us too. I also started going out on my own, not just to Bragg Creek but also to some spots in Calgary as well. I began making a trip to the East Village most Saturday mornings, and I would brazenly ask anyone who looked like they knew what they were doing for tips to improve my technique.

Last April, I moved to Bowness just as the skiing season was coming to an end. But now that we are back in the clutches of winter, I’ve returned to the trails with gusto. There’s something enchanting about gliding through newly groomed tracks, and if I’m honest, I actually love the little challenge every hill presents. Moreover, I’m saving money on a lift ticket to Sunshine and I’m getting an extra workout in too.

By the time this article is published spring is hopefully just around the corner; but if we still have some snow on the ground, I hope you get a chance to go skiing – whether it’s your first time or five hundredth time.

Looking for something to help keep you active during our long winters? Here’s some tips on how to start cross country skiing:

Stay in Your Backyard: And by backyard, I mean Bowness Park! You can rent skis right in the park to use the City-laid tracks along the river path. Practice going around the loop with a friend to get comfortable. We’re really lucky to have such an incredible winter destination in our community, great for both new and practiced skiers alike.

Get a Lesson: If you’re looking for some training as you get started, you can check out the Canmore Nordic Centre. Not only do they have professionals who can help perfect your technique, they also have a beautiful circuit of tracks with stunning mountain views. Head to their website for more information.

Hit the Mountains: The West Bragg Creek Day Area has endless options to ski; set out for Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis if you like elevation; or take a longer drive to enjoy the gorgeous trails at Lake Louise. Remember to make a donation to the ski clubs that care for our tracks, so we can continue enjoying this lovely winter sport.

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