My friend Celeste has been trying to get me into winter sports for almost a year. Last month she finally succeeded in pulling me out with Trakker’s Ski Club to try cross-country skiing.
So now I can say new year ANOTHER new skill.
I woke up that morning nervous, like I was about to give a big presentation or go face a big fear. Even though I have downhill skied multiple times, even overcoming my childhood fears on Mont Tremblant last Christmas, my stomach rocked and rolled. I also worried that I would… get bored. Not actually bored, but that my mind would wander in a dangerous way out there on a trail with no music or TV or books to distract me.
All of this was poppycock. Because cross-country skiing was balm for my soul and energizing for my body. (ENERGY!)
From the moment we left the charter bus at Highlands Nordic, I felt comfortable. I knew I was a beginner from the different way the cross-country skis felt on my feet, from the three times I fell during the lesson (mostly while standing still…), and from the tips and tricks our instructors gave to me during the absolute beginner lesson.
But the time flew by.
Focused all morning on the way my body moved as it learned these new movements, I predicted it had been maybe an hour and a half. No–more like three. After lunch, I could not help myself from pushing ahead of my other beginner friends. I was not yet fast enough to keep up with Celeste in her skate skis, but it didn’t matter. I fell into a trance each time I pulled ahead on the track, just watching the sun stream through the trees as I glided forward.
I thought going up hills would be horrendous and feared going up the larger glacier track at the Escarpment at first. But cross-country skiing is not as much pulling with arms as I thought it was. After years of Zumba, my legs are strong. They pushed me faster and further than I ever thought they could, especially after five days a week at a desk job.
I conked out for the deepest nap on the bus ride home. And when I woke up the next day, I was proud to feel the strain in a few muscle groups–but not the same ones I work usually.
I felt guilty at first for not spending most of the day with Celeste or getting to know the other people in the club, but after weeks and weeks of talking to people all the time it turns out I needed that quiet space to be out in the world, tuned in only to the wind, the swish of the snow, and my breath.
I’m not ready yet to commit to skiing every Sunday with the club, but I do believe I have found my winter sport. Just one more way that I am becoming more Canadian.