I don't think my path into and through cross country skiing provides
much help for new skiers just learning to get comfortable on skis.
That's why all I've provided on the main Getting
Comfortable on Skis page is a list of topics.
I learned to ski on a few outings with my parents in my teen
years. I'm pretty sure I didn't take a lesson -- it would not have
fit into our budget priorities. Fortunately the biggest penalty I
suffered for my ignorance was a big bruise on my hip from hitting a tree
alongside a downhill section of the trail.
Later I got into downhill skiing at lift-served resorts, where I did
spend the money on lessons. And soon after that I fell in love
with skiing in the backcountry on ungroomed slopes both moderate and
steep. I took a
lesson on backcountry downhill techniques about once every year or two,
and learned about other skills for touring in ungroomed snow from more
experienced partners. I learned a lot -- but not about the
"cross country" variety of skiing on groomed tracks.
Then I got interested in cross country racing, and trained for my
first race without paying any attention to improving technique.
The next summer I got serious about working on my technique. I got
advice from local racers at rollerskiing workouts, started reading
books, and finally got some formal coaching on technique at a two-day
training weekend on rollerskis. I got myself videotaped, and
analyzed videos of the elite World Cup racers. Then I got another
five days of formal instruction and coaching and videotaping on snow at
Silver Star in British Columbia, Canada.
Lessons learned from my path
- Now I see that there are lots of helpful tricks that I would have
been glad to learn years sooner, and interesting motion patterns
that would have been fun to practice at. I easily could have
-- if I had known there was so much more to learn. I figured
it was "just" cross country -- how complicated could that
- Learn techniques and strategies early that will help you
handle the risks and dangers: Some people have been harmed worse
in their first few days than just my bruised hip. I don't see
why the cross country version of skiing has to have much significant
risk of harm.
- I would have benefited from seeing better models of technique than
enthusiastic family members. Hanging around at a good XC ski
center affords fleeting glimpses of good skiers before they
disappear around the next bend. But videos offer the
opportunity to watch repeatedly from good camera angles, with pause
and slow motion.
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