Colbert: Figuring out this Nordic thing
To be honest, Nordic skiing didn’t look like a whole lot of fun. It’s essentially the winter equivalent to running, and I hate running.
Well, to be really honest, I don’t hate running, I’m just really bad at it. It makes too many body parts hurt, and my mental endurance reaches its end before I can get my playlist sorted out.
But, I knew if I wanted to do this Aspen thing correctly, it was important I at least give it a shot. Plus, the cross-country skiers I know personally are all really cool people, and that can’t be a coincidence.
Enter Preston Files, a Basalt resident who runs aspentrailfinder.com, an incredibly nifty website that helps you, surprise, find trails in the Roaring Fork Valley. Files invited me to take a few laps with him at the Aspen Cross Country Center a few weeks back, which offers up more than 60 kilometers of free trails on the Aspen Golf Course.
After dishing out a few bucks for rental gear — it was less than $30 to get ahold of boots and skis for the day — we were off and running, err, skiing. Files made it quite clear he was no expert himself and it was best to take his advice with a grain of salt.
We stuck with classical skiing, because trying to skate would have been more embarrassing than wiping out directly under the chair lift. I was surprisingly competent enough to get my skis attached and get in the “train tracks,” which I needed to keep from accidently wandering into some hidden ravine.
Among my regrets might have been wearing my snowboarding pants — I at least went light on the jacket — and my lack of ingested calories beforehand. Turns out, there is a reason these Nordic skiers are so fit, and it’s because it’s one heck of a workout. If you can’t tell, I’m more of a chairlift sort of guy.
Thankfully, not many people were out that day to see my struggles. I only seriously wiped out once, when I tried to go Bode Miller on a short downhill. More embarrassing was trying to get up those short downhills — my one step forward, slide two feet back approach wasn’t getting me very far.
To his credit, I don’t think Files laughed once, although he sure had the right to.
Now, I’m certainly going to continue to spend most of my time on my snowboard, likely in a chairlift-serviced environment. However, there was something oddly addicting about cross-country skiing that I can see drawing me back to the sport. There’s a freedom to go anywhere in the snow that you can’t get on a snowboard, and it’s about the easiest way to burn some serious calories during the winter without stepping into a gym.
With Nordic gear being relatively cheap — well, it’s certainly cheaper than the Alpine side of the sport — I believe it’s an activity I can fit into my schedule more often. I’m always looking for new ways to play in the snow, and this was an avenue I had not explored, this being only my second winter in the mountains. I now want to explore the valley’s myriad of trails, with a trek out to the Maroon Bells being high on my list.
Oh, and Files, thanks for the invite, and for not laughing at my follies.
Shiffrin ends World Cup ski season with yet another record, awarded the overall globe
After capping her record-setting season with career win 88, Mikaela Shiffrin was asked one question over and over again — and she couldn’t really answer it: What’s next?