Last month I had three keeners from Tourism Saskatchewan’s social media marketing team take a quickie Learn to Ski lesson. They wanted an experience to add seasonal flair to their January e-newsletter, SaskSecrets. The idea was to promote cross-country skiing as a great winter activity available practically on your doorstep. For city dwellers at least, a lot of city parks have groomed trails. We settled on Kinsmen Park in downtown Saskatoon where I conduct all my cross-country ski courses both for CanoeSki and for the Nordic Ski Club. I also provide much of the volunteer manpower for grooming the ski trails in the park.
The other idea in tourism thinking was to convey a safe, convenient and practical way to get started cross-country skiing by taking a lesson from a local, certified instructor. From that start, beginner skiers can spread their wings to explore trails further afield, including the wilderness trail systems in various locations in Saskatchewan. Time and rigorous temperatures curtailed our lesson, so tackling more distant challenges wasn’t an option in this go round. I guess the crew will simply have to come back for lesson number two!
However the social media team did manage, despite a few numb fingers, to capture enough footage to create a hilarious short video of our learn to ski session. As mentioned, the lesson was really compressed time-wise. In the video there is a big gap between doing exercises on the level instruction grid and suddenly roaring down a fairly steep hill!
In a typical cross-country ski lesson, we take students through a skill progression using a series of exercises and demos. We start skiing without poles, concentrating on foundational skills in classic diagonal stride, like balance and weight transfer. Once that is more or less under control, we can get the poles into the act. Eventually we move on to uphill and downhill techniques on gentle terrain. After a measure of confidence is evident, we tackle stopping, turning and climbing on more advanced terrain – like the hills depicted in the Tourism Saskatchewan Learn to Ski video.
An Australian couple, here in Saskatoon for a two-year employment stint, decided to take advantage of the Saskatchewan winter by signing up for a CanoeSki Learn to Ski course. The moment the course was completed, they dashed off to Eb’s Ski Trails in the Nisbet Forest, about an hour’s drive from Saskatoon. I happened to talk to them in Kinsmen Park just after their out-of-town ski trek. They were ecstatic about the wilderness ski trails! So, this is the ultimate goal of all the work on the training track, something that my newbie students from Tourism Saskatchewan have yet to experience!