You don’t want to see the first draft of this article. The one I wrote after my FIRST attempt at cross-country skiing, when the bruises on my legs were still blooming. That article is not very nice.
If you follow me on facebook you might have taken part in a voting competition for Visit Finland a few weeks back. The vote was to decide which common outdoor activity I would try in Finland: snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing. Either you guys severely overestimated my sporty abilities or you like seeing me fall down, because you chose cross-country skiing.
My first attempt was a total disaster. Just for fun I tagged along with a group of Finnish teenagers for a ski lesson. The kids skied circles around me. I think they felt sorry for me. A couple were definitely pointing and laughing and I don’t blame them. I could barely stand-up with painfully falling over. I looked like a cartoon.
In retrospect I was largely at a disadvantage as the instructions were all in Finnish, a language I definitely do not speak. Of course, Finns learn to cross-country ski in grade school as a part of physical education. They love to cross-country ski, not just for fun but as a legitimate means of transportation in the dead of winter. Over the course of the week I saw more than one person skiing to the grocery store.
The Finns are so devoted to skiing that instead of “spring break” they have official ski holidays, where all children get a week off of school to travel and go skiing. The Finns have even fought wars on skis.
I meanwhile, once fell of a ski lift. I was eight, and so scarred I haven’t been on a slope since. Talk about being out of your element.
Nonetheless, a few days later I was back in the saddle, err skis. This time I was to try the official cross-country skiing beginner course at Kiilopää Fell Center. I was not psyched for another morning of brutal falls and exasperation. Luckily for me I had two important elements working in my favor this time.
- The class was in English, a language I happen to speak
- I was the youngest person in the class by about 20 years. Also the only one who had ever strapped on skis before or had even lived in a country where it snowed (the other participants were from Hong Kong and Singapore).
This time we started out with the basics of movement We learned how to walk in the skis, how to use the poles to propel yourself forward and most importantly how to fall without hurting yourself AND how to get back up again. To my surprise it wasn’t that hard, it was actually kind of fun.
I was the start of my class. I was skiing circles around the others as they tried to stay upright. True I was just going back and forth in a circle on a begginer tract, but man, I was amazing!
I was sore too. There’s a reason you use a nordic-track at the gym- it’s quite the workout! Even so, I would definitely try cross-country skiing again. It’s not quite the horrifying fight with gravity that is downhill skiing: it’s more relaxing, a way to see and absorb nature.
Plus now I know how to fall down.
I visited Inari as a guest of Visit Finland and Northern Lapland Tourism.