Wednesday, June 24, 2015

XC Ski Trip Reflection

     It was a beautiful day in Gatineau  Park that featured warm enough temperatures for a t-shirt, the shining of the sun, and perfect snow conditions. Not too wet, and not too dry. This was fortunate for me as it was my first attempt at skate skiing. Throughout our outdoor ed classes prior to the trip I was only introduced to classic skiing. The techniques certainly were not the same. However, with a last minute lesson from Emmy, I was able to steadily find my way on the trails.

     It wasn't long before I had to begin removing some of my clothing layers. I guess I misconceived what I was dressing for: not just the temperature, but the action and movement I was making when skiing. I was definitely thankful for bringing my backpack to carry my layers in. Beforehand, I partnered up with Daniel so that we could share the load. For the first half of the trip I would carry the lighter load of clothing while during the second half, I would carry the heavier load of our packed food and water. We did this because we wanted to make certain necessities, such as water, easier to find. It also allowed us to stick together as opposed to one stopping while the other pursues skiing. I found this idea worked well and I would do it again.

     The skiing itself was both uphill and downhill. Literally and metaphorically. In the beginning, I found my strides to be awkward and not very effective. I began to doubt my decision to attempt skate skiing. It was tough to see a lot of my fellow skiers pass me with ease as they classic skied. My biggest challenge was trying to keep momentum while on a flat surface. I had no rhythm or flow to my technique. This was mainly because I had little idea of what I was actually doing. All I knew was I was supposed to stride to the side and bring my heels together. For the first bit my arms were doing most of the work which is not a good sign. This was going to be a long day.

     Over time, I observed techniques of other skate skiers. This helped me realize a few errors made in my technique. I lengthened my stride for starters. This made skiing much less choppy than before were my strides were short and stuttered. Simply slowing down the process actually sped me up. Second, I found my rhythm. This was important as it certainly reduced my effort output by large. I noticed how I should use my poles every time I extend my left leg. After learning these to aspects, skiing became a breeze. Before I knew it, my confidence shot up as I was in the top 3 of the entire pack. (Not counting Mr.Brouwer and Mrs.Trumpower.)

     After conquering a  monstrosity of a hill, we reached the cabin where I considered the half way point. From here, I was given the choice to either ski with a faster group or with a not as fast group. I decided to push my luck with the faster group which was made completely up of skate skiers. As was promised, our trail consisted of some pretty disheartening hills and terrain. With confidence and energy I made the trails nothing but a memory behind me. Never did I gave up or doubt my new capabilities to finish with pride. I was rewarded with an incredible lookout that offered some pretty sweet pictures afterward. It was almost a symbol of how hard I worked to try something I have never done before, and succeed at it.

     The last stretch really began to test my patience with seemingly endless flat terrain, my worst enemy. When it did end, I was so proud of myself that I did not feel the burn in my legs until I got home. Skate skiing promised me a faster trip with harder work, and that it was. I have no regrets about that day or ideas of how it could have gone smoother. Taking the harder route was easy decision that I would make again to continue improving my skiing skills.


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