Feeling cross | AspenTimes.com

Feeling cross

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Observations on cross country skiing from someone who prefers to rely on gravity to provide the force neces­sary to propel the skis forward: Cross country skiing is a lot like running, only with real­ly cumbersome equipment attached to your body.

Do cross country skiers cross-train in the warm months by tying together the laces of their running shoes?

Being an accomplished downhiller, I assumed I’d be good at the down­slope part of cross country. Then I overheard the advice offered up by someone ” a seasoned cross country skier ” on how to handle the hills: ” Tuck a little, and hope for the best.” How is it I can handle G-8 down High­land Bowl without a problem, but a gopher hole on the golf course has me flailing to stay upright?

Untracked powder on Bell Mountain ” a good reason to get in the gondola line at 8:30 a.m. Untracked powder on the North Star Preserve ” a good reason to get back in bed. I quickly learned that another skier’s tracks are a pos­itive thing in cross country.

Hey, Euro-centric dudes at the Aspen Cross Country Center (the one at the golf course): You’re in America now, and here we use the English measurement system, no matter how lame and random it is. So how about replacing kilometers with miles on your signs? (And yes, I can calculate the kilometers-to-miles conversion, but not while I’m also trying to figure out if that unmarked, off-piste “shortcut” back to the ski center really will get me off the skis any quicker.) Apparently, there are certain leg muscles that don’t get used by either snowboarding, running, hiking, biking, walking or frantically carrying out the trash just as you see the garbage truck about to pull away. To specify, they are the muscles that only my wife and masseuse are allowed to touch.

With downhilling, what you see is what you get: Look down the trail, and you see where you’re headed. On the cross country track, you see the ski center ” the finish line, glory be! ” just in front of you. What you don’t see is that big loop that takes you to Cemetery Lane, the Round­about (and even, I suspect, within spitting distance of Woody Creek) before you get there. Adding 3.8 miles ” excuse me, 6.12 kilometers ” to your adventure.