When Downhill meets Nordic – a First Day of Cross-Country Skiing

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We consider ourselves a skiing family.  We get in about 15 days a season, everyone is fairly proficient and our toddler has a tantrum every time he sees his skis and we tell him he can’t go.  It’s pretty much in our blood.

Well, at least downhill skiing is.  When it comes to cross-country skiing, it’s a whole different story.  Despite the fact that we ski like crazy, Andrew and I have only tried cross-country a few times, and all of those were when I was hugely pregnant, so I’d say we’re pretty much right in the beginner category 🙂

So what better thing for us to do than to give it a whirl with the kids!  We took advantage of the nice trails at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center and decided to take our family out to see “the other side” of skiing.

An image that perfectly captures how crazy we look when we juggle a lot on our adventures!

I can only imagine what we looked like when we showed up at the rental shop.  3 wild kids bouncing around like crazy who keep talking non-stop about skiing and their poor parents fumbling through every ski-gear related question that the technicians were asking us!  Luckily, like all the people at Snow Mountain, the rental shop folks were about the nicest ever, and walked us through the entire process, all the way down to how to put the kids skis on (told you we were clueless).

Thankfully none of this phased the kids and they were thrilled to hit the trail!  The nordic center does a fantastic job of grooming their trails so despite the 3 feet of snow that fell while we were there, we got the simplified version by skiing some nicely groomed paths with the ski tracks etched into them (which was a life-saver for the kids).

In no time, the kids were picking up the differences between the two types of skiing.  They could go up hills with these skis, they were a little less stable (much skinnier), and they were hard to turn in.  After figuring it out, they were running around and sliding like they’d been doing it for years, making me thrilled that we introduced this to them at a young age.

Although our youngest was upset that we didn’t get him skis, it ended up being a good choice as the long vacation full of playing had worn him right out.  Within 15 minutes he was asleep in the trailer!  Speaking of the trailer, this was money well spent!  The Chariot trailer we rented was not only super easy to pull, both up and down hills, but it came with a little sleeping bag to keep our little guy who was just holding still nice and toasty.  The handle on the back (and sitting on the front) was a huge plus too for the little 4-year-old legs that couldn’t handle as much as her big brother 🙂

Our tips for a successful first day of cross-country skiing:

Go to a real nordic center instead of trying to break your own trail.  The groomed trails will be a life-saver!
Take plenty of water.  Nordic skiing is a big workout and it’s easy to get dehydrated out there.
Dress in layers.  Although it will likely be cold when you begin, you’ll quickly be working up a sweat.  This includes the kids too.
Pack snacks!
Take it easy.  Whenever you try something new, start easy with small expectations.  This will make it much easier for everyone to relax and just have a good time.

In the Denver area?  Check out the Snow Mountain Ranch nordic center.  It’s close, affordable ($15 trail pass also includes lots of other activities up there), and fantastic for skiers of all ages and abilities – from beginners like us to the future Olympians that train there!


1 Comment

  • Em says:

    We tried cross country skiing for the first time ever 2 weeks ago. I asked the rental shop if he was going to show us how to put them on, since they looked different than downhill. He said no, it was all easy to figure out, and didn’t bother to show us how. So we took our skiis with us and drove into the mountains. It took me like 10 minutes, in the snow, to get the kids’ ski attached to their boot! And about that long to get my own on!!! My big advice is to have a first timer TRY THE SKIIS ON AT THE RENTAL SHOP!!! It would have saved us a lot of time and frustration if we had known how they worked back in the shop, with someone to explain, rather than trying to figure out with a screaming baby in tow. That chariot looks like it would have been waaaaay easier than our pulling-with-a-sled business!

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