Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hello, winter. How've you been?

Guess what? I'm back on speaking terms with snow. I broke up with snow sports two winters ago after an ill-advised snowboarding trip. With the exception of a fairly tame snowshoeing expedition last year, I've not had good experiences with cold-weather athletics. It's the gravity element: I've realized that going downhill on snow isn't fun for me. It's scary. That kind of speed without control doesn't appeal to me--with great power comes great responsibility, you know? I fall down, and then the snow-bunny six-year-olds speed past and laugh. I get frustrated, and then I cry and walk the rest of the way down the hill. It's not a good thing.

But I went cross-country skiing yesterday, and had a great time. It's a happy medium: cooler than snowshoeing, but not terrifying, like all the other board sports. There are little hills, just enough to feel vaguely Olympian without the fear of breaking bones; the scenery is beautiful and appropriately Alpine; and everybody's cheerful and stopping occasionally for trail mix and sunscreen. Physically, it's like rollerblading while doing the wedding-aisle walk: stride-together-stride-together, which is kind of entertaining (I'm easy). I fell down a lot, mostly to do with my lack of snowplowing skills, but by the end of the day I had the basics. I'd like to go back.

The great thing about cross-country is the tracks: the trails are groomed with grooves for those of us who can't keep their skis parallel. Downhill? Can't steer? No problem: just bend your knees, pick up your poles, and let the curve of the track carry you (until you look up, lose your balance, and inevitably end up on the ground, but that's not the trail's fault). It's great fun. I think we should have more tracked sports. Athletics for the uncoordinated! Excellent!

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