Nordic know-how not a bad thing |

Nordic know-how not a bad thing

Janet Urquhart
Learning to skate ski can prove challenging " and frustrating. The local cross-country centers offer lessons in the technique. (Aspen Times file)

Like most athletic endeavors, cross-country skiing is harder than it looks. Wobbly, skinny skis without metal edges don’t exactly inspire confidence in a novice who’s teetering in a set of tracks that disappear around a bend at the bottom of a steep hill.

For the lucky few, handling the curves and hills comes naturally. For the rest, there are lessons.

There’s a skill to cross-country skiing ” in both its classic form (using set, parallel tracks ) and the more aerobic skate style. Both require balance and technique, according to Nathan Morse, a local nordic racer and instructor at the Snowmass Cross Country Center.

“There’s a proper technique to it,” he said. “Some people don’t know what to do on the downhills and they get nervous.”

Skate skiing, especially, isn’t easy to pick up on one’s own, Morse added.

“Unless you’ve got a really good hockey background, that’s something you probably want to take a lesson in,” he said.

“Skating is not the most intuitive thing,” agreed Mike Uncapher, an instructor at the Aspen center. “Most people find it frustrating if they don’t get some pointers.”

Most visitors to the centers, however, come in search of a lesson in the classic style.

“A lot of people who take lessons have never done it before ” have never even seen it before,” according to Uncapher.

Both the Aspen and Snowmass Cross Country Center, located on the communities’ respective golf courses, offer rental equipment for classic and skate skiing, as well as lessons.

Renting a classic setup for an adult is $19.95 for a full day and $14.95 after 1 p.m.; skate equipment for an adult is $22.95 for a full day and $17.95 after 1 p.m.

Private lessons are $59 per hour by appointment, or $40 for 30 minutes.

The centers also offer regular classes ” Classic 101, Classic 102 Tour and Skate 101, for a $35 fee (not including rental rates).

Classic 101, a one-hour class, takes place daily at 10:30 a.m. in both Aspen and Snowmass, covering the basics in classic cross-country skiing.

Classic 102 Tour, a 90-minute session, is offered Monday through Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Aspen and Thursday and Saturday at 2 p.m. at Snowmass.

Skate 101 ” the basics of skating in a one-hour lesson ” is offered daily at noon in Aspen and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at noon at Snowmass.

Both centers are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Aspen Cross Country Center can be reached at 925-2145; the Snowmass center’s number is 923-9180.

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