You’ve been a downhill skier all your life. You’ve enjoyed sledding with the kids. You’ve even strapped on a pair of snowshoes a time or two.
But, for whatever reason, you’ve never hit the trails and gone cross-country skiing.
Well, you’re in luck. There has never been a better time to give Nordic skiing a whirl.
Just as downhill skis have evolved, so have cross-country skis.
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“Cross-country skis have gotten a lot easier ... in the last few years,” said Chuck Cremer, the hard goods manager at McU Sports’ Highland store. “It used to be that they were very long and very skinny, and a lot of people would twist their ankles, which didn’t make it very fun.”
Wider, simplified styles are more stable and easier on ankles, Cremer said. Plus, it’s easier to find a pair that fits.
We’re selling them by T-shirt size, whether you wear small, medium, large or extra large. It makes it very easy in that regard.
CHUCK CREMER, hard goods manager, McU Sports, Highland store, on cross-country skis
“Cross-country skiing is a really different sport than downhill skiing,” Jay Kappel of Idaho Mountain Touring in Downtown Boise said. “It’s not super high-energy the way that downhill skiing is. It’s a lot more, I’d say, relaxing. But at the same time it’s every bit as much, or even more, of a workout.”
Most people are able to pick up classic cross-country skiing in little time, because the basic movement patterns are the same as running and walking.
“It was much easier for me to pick up cross-country skiing and go with it,” Kappel said. “It’s a much easier learning curve for most people, I think.
“As you get older, you might not want to go racing down a ski hill. ... In general, cross-country skiing is a good way to get out in the snow and not worry about getting hurt.”
IN YOUR BACKYARD
One major advantage Nordic skiers enjoy is the accessibility. When blanketed with a decent snowfall, Nordic tracks can be found all across the Treasure Valley — probably within minutes of your front door.
A good place to start? A Boise park near you. Ann Morrison Park, for example, is a nearby draw for skiers.
And there’s no reason to high-tail it in the other direction if you spy park personnel.
Sarah Collings, a spokesman for Boise Parks and Recreation, said cross-country skiing is permitted.
“It’s just another activity you can do in Boise parks,” Collings said. “As long as there’s enough snow. Obviously, people need to use their discretion.”
If you’re considering heading to a golf course, discretion is definitely in order. Some courses, such as Shadow Valley, prohibit skiers.
Warm Springs and Quail Hollow, Boise’s two municipal courses, don’t have a policy regarding skiing. Staff members at both courses are aware that skiers sometimes use their grounds for close-to-town skiing. If they’re asked, they might advise skiers to try to use the courses only when there is plenty of snow — and even then to avoid the greens.
If there’s not enough snow in the Treasure Valley for cross-country skiing, don’t despair. There are literally hundreds of miles of trails for you to enjoy throughout Idaho.
Two of the more popular options for Treasure Valley residents are Bogus Basin and the Park N’ Ski lots north of Idaho City.
“If you go up above Idaho City, there are areas that really get you away from the crowds,” Idaho Mountain Touring’s Kappel said. “It gets you up in the mountains and it really makes you feel like you’re away from things. It’s very quiet and a totally different type of skiing.”
Idaho Mountain Touring, McU and other shops that sell and rent equipment have free maps of the Idaho City area Park N’ Ski trail systems.
Bogus Basin also offers a large network of trails for all abilities, with a bonus: It offers night skiing Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Peg Havlovick, director of Bogus Basin’s Nordic Center, encourages beginning skiers to consider the Passport Program.
The program consists of four lessons, two for classic and two for skate style (and the respective gear).
There are three February options available, and those include rental equipment for the classes and the remainder of this year. After completion of the classes, skiers receive a Nordic pass that is good for the rest of this season and all of next season. The price? $145.
“It’s a good deal,” Havlovick said. “I think it’s a successful program even if you take the lessons and come back and ski four times during the year. You’ve been exposed to something new.”