Sunday, January 24, 2010

Three Types of Skiing - Two Days

On Saturday January 9th, state parks and other locations throughout the country hosted Winter Trails Day. We headed up towards Hatcher Pass (new item #98) where they had groomed cross country skiing and sledding tails, and with help from sponsorship by REI were able to provide free equipment and instruction. We went to learn how to Cross Country Ski.

There are many differences between downhill skiing and cross country skiing. The skis are longer and thinner. The poles are taller. The boots only lock in at the front to allow the heels of your feet to come up off the skis. You not only go down hills, but you cover flat services and uphills as well. It is a lot more work and much more difficult.

We started by learning the Classic technique. In this technique there are pre-groomed "tracks" for your skis to slide in. You move by using your arms and sliding your feet almost like you are walking or running. This technique is the most common and easy to learn, and besides a big transition to the skis (thinner and only your toes are connected) is not that difficult. We fell a few times, but with a little practice we could probably pick it up pretty easily.

Later in the afternoon we went farther up Hatcher Pass to learn Ski Skating. With Ski Skating there are different skis (smoother) different poles (different grips) and the motion is completely different. It seems like it would be more fun once you learn how to do it, but it is more difficult to learn. You use a skating type motion, but gain momentum by angling your skis and pushing them in an outward direction. We struggled a little bit more with this technique, but still had fun.

(Rebekah in the red)

On Sunday we drove down to Alyeska (#26 on the list) for some alpine skiing. We rode immediately to the top to ski down some blues. Alyeska is different than other places I have skied. There are downhill areas followed by slight short uphills. This makes for a strange sensation of not being able to see the slope in front of you until you are starting to descend the next downhill portion (like how all you can see behind Rebekah is the valley below). Alyeska is a much better ski area than Hilltop, with many more lifts and hills. However, starting on the blues was a little too much for Rebekah. She was still trying to use the pizza or snowplow technique, and it took her a while to get down the mountain. We will definitely be back, but first Rebekah needs to learn proper alpine skiing technique. I did pretty well, but fell a few times and could use some more experience as well.

Last weekend we went back to Hilltop to get that much needed practice. It was a gorgeous day and you can see Anchorage and the ocean in the distance. That day of practice led to much improvement and after a couple more times we will be ready to ski Alyeska like pros!


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