SNOWMASS VILLAGE --Let's talk about nordic people. I didn't capitalize that because I am not using it as a title, but rather an adjective. I don't want to comment on people from Norway and Sweden and such except, of course, for the people in those parts who are, in fact, nordic by choice, of which there are quite a few.
The politically incorrect term for these people is "cross country skiers." Forgive me. The "CC" word is offensive to me, too. "XC" is even worse. At least I didn't say "granola crunchers." Whoops.
My inclination is to say nothing but bad things about these types of people, like "why would anyone in their right mind want to go out into the snow, fasten only the toes of their flimsy boots to skinny skis that are nearly impossible to balance on and then run around on them for long periods of time in bitter cold weather until they are sweating profusely, breathing so hard that the air within 50 feet of them smells like a Power Bar factory, and every muscle in their body, not just their legs, is cramping so hard that they feel like they completely failed in the snowmobile trick contest in the X Games without getting any of the adrenaline rush, when they could just throw their fat skis on the gondola, let it whisk them to the top of the mountain, click their incredibly stiff ski boots into super solid bindings and let their equipment and gravity take care of the trip back down?" There is no plausible answer besides voodoo.
About the only good thing you can say about these people is that they are nice ... down to earth ... extremely fit ... healthy ... happy ... and maybe intelligent.
That last point is debatable. Honestly, the only people who have ever mentioned to me that nordic skiers seem to be pretty bright are teachers. And, as we all know, they deal with only a limited portion of the general population primarily made up of students. The other things I said about the nordics are true enough, but who cares?
I don't mean to turn this piece into a lament on parental regret, but I have to disclose that my own children have succumbed to the terrible temptation of nordic skiing and have actually been experimenting with it for longer than I care to admit. It is at the point now where they are competing with other kids in it.
I say "competing," but that's a bit of a misnomer. Yes, they do try to go faster than the next person and put forth an incredible effort to do so, but their contests don't seem to have all the elements that regular sports do. Everybody is so friendly, and not just after the event because they have to be. It's not only the competitors, either. The racers, the coaches - everybody is so sociable all the time. Even the parents are well-behaved. It's so ridiculous I would be surprised if they even have an appeals process for race results. If they do, I'm pretty darn sure nobody has ever used it.
I've heard people who participate in nordic races talk about the nervousness they feel at the starting line. Get a load of this: Lots of them say that it's not about whom they are racing against or how they will finish, but about voluntarily pushing their bodies to the maximum amount of suffering they can bear and sustain for a long period of time. A friend of mine who did this in the Olympics said that you might get an idea about what they're talking about if you put your thumb on the edge of a table and in the other hand held a hammer above it with the full intention of giving it a good solid whack in a couple of minutes when someone shouts "go." Sounds fun.
It's amazing what kids pick up on. I have to admit that I did plenty of nordic skiing when I was younger. I even inhaled and exhaled. I pretty much gave it up when I got married and started a family, though. Oh, occasionally I'll throw the sticks and poles in the back of the Prius when I think nobody is paying attention and sneak out to the golf course and take a few laps. I didn't think anyone would pick up on it. I was careful that I came home without any traces of doing it apparent, but dried salt streaks down the side of my face are hard to remove without taking a full-on shower. Whatever, I set a bad example, and now I'm paying for it. If only I had it all to do over again.
Roger Marolt is sorry that nordic skiing is legal in Colorado. At the very least it should be limited to recreational use in small quantities. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.