By Charlie Henderson
Nordic for Dummies: One of my top goals for 2016 was to try Nordic skiing and since a good friend had bought me a private lesson a little while back I decided it was time to use it. Lucky for me, Scott Brown was teaching that day at the Aspen Cross Country Center. Scott pays great attention to detail and has the unique ability to teach techniques efficiently and effectively. I was geared up and skiing effortlessly in no time at all.
Nordic skiing is an incredible cardio workout, the skis are really narrow and if you do the classic, not skate version you follow a narrow groomed track, which is surrounded by incredible views. I do have to admit the skis came out from under me once or twice because you really have to stay centered but the amount of laughing that was had, was as healthy as the exercise itself. If you’ve always wanted to try it but haven’t yet, here’s what I discovered:
Nordic is on groomed trails and Alpine is in the mountains (duh).
Classic is the best way to start for beginners. It’s a gaited motion of arms and legs in a diagonal stride, done in these groomed, carved tracks. Skate ski is like ice-skating with narrow skis on so you have to create a glide to move forward (not done in tracks).
Downhill skiing involves layers! You are up on a mountain and it’s way colder up there. Nordic is very energetic so you can wear leggings and thinner layers because you are generating a lot of heat and you are at low altitude, and the sun is usually shining.
This brings me to the best part: The Gear!!! Can you say SSSSSSSSSSSSSwix.
Swix is a Nordic ski brand that is the most popular for Nordic skiers. Swix offers innovative, high performance technical apparel ideal for cross-country skiers. Fabric is lightweight, breathable with great ventilation and allows for free movement. As for the equipment, The Aspen Cross Country Center, the only full service cross country ski and snowshoe center in Aspen, is offering an introductory package of equipment which includes Nordic skis, boots, poles, bindings, binding install, wax and a free group lesson install for just $339 which is perfect for an amateur like me. So strap on your gear and be prepared for an invigorating workout, set in an amazing location and lessons and rentals are priced very reasonably. Let Dave, Larry O and Scott take care of you and be prepared to be smiling like a Cheshire cat the whole time. The best part is it is for every age group. Trust me, it is impossible to not feel fantastic while you are doing this sport!
* Be sure to attend the Aspen Valley Ski Club Nordic Bonfire Dinner tonight.
** There is a new fat tire bike track on the Aspen golf course!!
*** If you have a pup, there is a wonderful dog friendly track.
**** For 26 winters, the Ute Mountaineer has owned and operated the Aspen Cross Country Center, home to Aspen’s cross country ski and snowshoe specialists. With more than 60 km of free trails of the Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System right outside the front door, the center is a convenient spot to demo gear, take a lesson or head out on a guided tour. After skiing, you can relax in our lounge with hot drinks, snacks, cross country videos and reading material. In addition to our retail shop and ski school, we offer expert ski tuning and repair services, a public waxing room and men’s & women’s locker rooms.
The Aspen Cross Country Center can tailor a tour to your ability, interests and time frame. Whether it’s the beautiful rolling hills and aspen groves of the Owl Creek Trail, a mellow tour at the North Star Nature Preserve or the beautiful backdrop of the elk Mountains and a wonderful lunch at the Pine Creek Cookhouse, we can suggest or guide you on a trip that’s right for you. All tours include rentals, guide/instructor and snack. Transportation costs (if necessary) and trail fee (Ashcroft only) are not included. Lunch at Pine Creek Cookhouse (Ashcroft) or Sage Restaurant (Snowmass Village) can be arranged, but is not included in price. All tours should meet at Aspen Cross Country Center for correct sizing of equipment.