Taking That Ride to Nowhere.
pop quiz: the lyric above is from what song and artist? clue: I don’t think they appeared on Question Time, but I’m sure they had opinions to share about small animals.
So we went on a trip to Finland for the ‘Lapland’ experience – Ski-dooing, Husky Sledging, Reindeer Sledging, Cross Country Skiing, Snow Shoeing, Ice Bar visits, Finnish Spa treatments and seeing the Northern Lights. Of course we did ski too, at Yllas ski resort, my review of that experience can be read about here.
The flight was direct to Kittila, a runway in the middle of nowhere and then about an hour transfer north to Torassieppi; even more a nowhere destination than Kittila. The rooms were basic, but warm. The communal dining area was welcoming and traditional looking. And it was cold, VERY cold. One of the first things the staff team at Torassieppi do is kit you out from head to toe in cold weather gear – boots, socks, all-in-one-suit, hat, mittens; all ready to face the wilderness.
Cross Country Skiing for Beginners
Putting cross country ski boots and skis on for the first time and I notice how unstable they seem to be: Your heel is free and the skis are very narrow with no discernible edges – or any visible means of being able to turn.
Setting out on the walk/slide to the start of the prepared track and I fall over. School girl error – I put my arm out to break my fall and badly bruise my wrist, but I got up and carried on.
The Nordic countries are dotted with pre-prepared cross country ski tracks; you simply drop your skis into the parallel tracks and off you go. The skill is to slide rather than walk so that you are not lifting the weight of the skis and are taking full advantage of ice being slippery. The tracks are generally quite flat and gently curving. The fun really starts when you need to go uphill, downhill or around a corner – or stop!
Uphill Cross Country Skiing
Anything above a gentle gradient and you begin to slide backwards in the tracks. The technique seems to be to get out of the tracks and adopt a skating style; leaning forward and coordinating your arms and legs to power through: Very tiring. As a beginner I sometimes opted to turn perpendicular to the slope and side step up it.
Downhill Cross Country Skiing
It’s simple, but requires nerves of steel. Keep your skis in the tracks and let the slope dictate your speed. Balance is key, as is complete faith in the fact that the slope will flatten out and you will slow down.
Cross Country Skiing Corners
The beginners theory seems to be that you step turn with your outside leg. So your inside leg stays in its track and you push out with your outside leg/ski to initiate the turn. The tighter the turn the more and quicker you push out on your outside leg.
How to Stop when Cross Country Skiing as a Beginner
Easiest way; fall over. Second option; keep upright and slide until you come to a natural stop. Third option; bring your knees together and push your feet out in the beginners ski pose; the snow plough.
Cross Country Skiing – The Verdict
We must have had fun as we repeated it in some free time we had. The second and third attempts were much better as we seemed to get the hang of it; requiring less effort and having more control and balance.
The wilderness is truly wonderful. The sense of peace is amazing. The workout is total body.