Trading Alpine for Cross-Country Skiing
By Ginny Prior
There comes a time in everyone’s life when serenity trumps the party scene. When following the crowd is no longer cool. When, as Huey Lewis put it, “It’s hip to be square.”
As a skier, I figured this out a few years back, at Sugar Bowl. Carving my way down a popular run, a whistle stopped me dead in my tracks. Two hotshot patrollers were marking an obstacle. “We’re the fashion police,” one of them yelled. “You’re under arrest!” I blushed as it dawned on me that my hot pink ski pants might no longer be in vogue.
As I took time for lunch later that day, I saw women in their faux fur jackets with their Burning Love skis and matching pink boots. I saw teens with their designer grunge pants and Burton boards that cost more than my first car. I saw me in the mirror with gear from (gasp) the last millennium.
It was then that I had an epiphany. To continue my love affair with winter, I would have to tweak the experience—forgo the downhill speeds and the uphill lifts in favor of a sport that, until now, seemed too tame for a seasoned skier like me. I would have to go Nordic.
The Bay Area is blessed with some great Nordic skiing less than three hours away. One of my favorites is Royal Gorge, the largest cross-country ski area in North America. Off Interstate 80 at the Norden exit, Royal Gorge has a big network of trails on more than 9,000 acres. Some days you can ski on groomed tracks for hours without seeing another two-legged being.
Nordic skis are much thinner and lighter than downhill skis, and you’ll need a lesson if you’ve never tried them. Of course, rentals and lessons are available at most cross-country ski areas. You’ll notice, almost immediately, the laid-back feel of these resorts. No long lines for rentals. No tangle of poles and boots as you try to try desperately to get outfitted by lunchtime. A Nordic boot fits like a slipper. They’re so snug and comfy, some folks wear them all day—even on the drive home. And a snug, comfy fit means more time on skis, burning calories and getting toned.
There are several ways to ski at cross-country resorts. Some like to skate ski, with a motion that resembles speed skating and a workout that tones your buttocks…
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