Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning to fly ... winter style!

For most Canadians, surviving the winter means embracing the season wholeheartedly; after all, in many provinces the snow arrives in November and sticks around until April!

Luckily, as a nation, we figured out numerous ways to not only take advantage of this season, but also to enjoy it!

Cross Country skiing is just one popular winter activity, so it was with some enthusiasm therefore that I recently joined an introduction to cross-country skiing group lesson at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre.

The Strathcona Wilderness Centre is located just 30 minutes east of Edmonton and is a four-season outdoor adventure centre that offers a variety of recreational programs for groups and individuals.

After a cold spell, the morning dawned cold but sunny; with a stunning cornflower blue sky ... ah February finally arrived! Many others felt the same way it seemed, as we arrived into a very busy parking lot, at only 10.30 on a Sunday morning.

The Wilderness Centre has a cozy lodge and we were greeted by an efficient team that helped us with obtaining our rental equipment. A short time later, we were really to roll... or to ski ....

The two hour Adult Introduction to X-C Skiing group lesson is only $36.75 per person and is designed to introduce participants to Classical Cross-Country Skiing. The lesson focuses on gaining comfort on skis, weight shift and flat terrain techniques.

Our excellent instructors Sean and Alex began the lesson with fun warm up exercises, such as jumping in a circle, ‘jogging’ along the tracks and learning to ‘fly’ before progressing to diagonal stride and basic hill manoeuvres.

The whole experience was a lot of fun, especially being amid a group of beginners. Tumbling over was a frequent occurrence for most, but with it came lots of laugher, smiles and the odd triumphant yell!
The two hour lesson (which was actually more like two and a half hours) ended with a short ski around a section of the park, by which time most of us felt fairly confident that we could attempt to ski again with some skill and knowledge.

There is something to be said for watching hundreds of brightly-dressed people darting around the tracks on a dazzling sunny, winters day ... there’s even more to be said for being one of them!