Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
With all the fresh snow accumulating in the mountains, now is a great time to go cross country skiing. The average skier won’t have too much difficulty picking up the sport, but for those of us with less alpine experience, a lesson or two to identify the basics is not a bad way to start.
The most common form of cross country skiing is referred to as the ‘classic style’, where one glides on prepared trails that have pairs of parallel grooves cut into the snow.
I recently caught up with my good friend Kirsten Clarke, who started cross country skiing shortly after mastering walking and competed at the Junior Olympics, to get some pointers on the sport.
“White Pass has 11 miles of groomed cross country trails. Dog Lake is my favorite, but the whole trail system is really fun with varied terrain,” said Clarke, who credits her parents for getting her into the sport at a young age. Her dad races at a Masters level to this day, and she enjoys competing in a race or two every year.
Clarke prefers ‘skate skiing’, which is a more vigorous form of cross country skiing and involves a weight transfer onto one ski and then the other, supported by the inner edge of the ski on the snow, imagine the movement of an ice skater.
If you’re looking to get into skate skiing, Clarke recommends getting some additional help. “Take lessons because it is a technical sport and stick with it because it takes time to get the balance and rhythm.”
For those of us who are looking for a less technical outing, classic cross country skiing is still an incredible workout and a great way to take in the scenic beauty on winter day. With a few inches of snow, a park or empty street can even act as the perfect terrain for getting started.
Lessons are a good route to go whether you are interested in classic or skating, and for less than $50 White Pass will hook you up with a tutorial, trail pass, and ski’s. Once you’ve mastered the basics, check in with the Cascadians, who put on many events that are open to the public. Check out their site for trips that range from trail maintenance, (cross country skiing) to paddling.