Thursday, February 2, 2012

Snowy Trails

Cross Country Skiing for Clutzy-Beginner-Dummies

Chapter One: Definitions (rough draft)

Bindings- the bindings of yore were simply hide straps used to tie the skis to the bottom of your boots. In modern times the binding systems have been developed and standardized so that there are now at least fifteen different bindings to fit three different boots, none of which are interchangeable with the others.

Diagonal Glide- the classic cross-country stride; leg and opposite arm moving in unison. For beginners, often looks more like a "wobble" than a "glide".

Double Poling- technique which involves moving both arms (and poles) in the same direction at the same time. Used with feet remaining stationary for flats or gentle downhills; also useful when you are too uncoordinated for the diagonal glide.

Downhill- try to keep your skis parallel, hold your poles out of the way, and pray the tracks are enough to keep you going in the right direction.

Herringbone- technique for going uphill. Turn the toes of your skis outward, press the inner edge of your ski toward the hill with your ankles, and march, knock-kneed, up the hill. Start to slide backwards. Fall. Get up. Try again. Fall again. Give up and crawl on hands and knees the rest of the way up the hill.

Kick Turn- quick and easy way to turn around and/or pull a groin.

Kneesocks/Knickers- (1.) the standard cross-country uniform according to both books on the subject which I found at the library (circa 1970). (2.) "what the pros wear"

Poles- if you think you can use these to maintain balance, forget it. These are mainly used by the beginner to snag nearby vegetation or hold your mittens when you take a break.

Skis- thin, slippery pieces of fiberglass, generally longer than you are tall, which you clamp on to the toes of your boots in the hopes of somehow moving forward through the snow.

Snowplow- technique used to slow down on a downhill or stop on a flat. Also, a reliable way to sprain your ankle.

Telemark- beginners cannot do this. Best to put it out of your mind entirely.

Trail- depending on conditions the trail may be groomed, tracked, and clearly marked. Or it may be a barely distinguishable indentation in the snow, leading off into the forest and dead-ending in the middle of nowhere. Hopefully you brought flares.

Wax- substance put on the bottom of skis; there are approximately 1,274,752 types of wax currently available. Good luck finding the right one.

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