Every Saturday morning, from the beginning of January to the beginning of March, we go cross-country skiing. We belong to a club, where M takes lessons and my husband and I go off on our own and ski. for 2 hours.
Given a choice, M would not go – he would much rather stay home in his pjs and watch TV and play computer games. In his place, I would probably trade hanging out at home for spending 2 hours out in the cold. But since we are the adults/parents, we’ve decided that skiing is a fine way to spend a Saturday am. So every week, when M whines about going, we tell him the same thing: “you’ll have fun when you get there.”
This morning, M didn’t complain much about getting ready. It snowed fairly heavily yesterday, so there was a nice thick blanket of snow on the ground. The last couple of weeks have been icy, which isn’t a lot of fun for skiing.
My husband and I decided we would skate ski, as opposed to classic. We left M with his class and headed out. We weren’t very far along before I realized it was going to be hard work. The heavy snowfall meant that the groomers hadn’t had time to set the trails – a snowmobile pulls a contraption behind it which flattens out the snow. But the trail was narrower than usual and there was a fair amount of snow piled up along the edge and my skis kept sliding off the trail and getting stuck. I realized after about 10 minutes that I would have been much happier on my classic skis – I am a much stronger at this technique, while I am still learning to skate ski. Skate skiing is to classic skiing what running is to walking – much faster and more demanding of your arms and shoulders. Plus it seemed like we were going straight uphill. It wasn’t long before I wanted to curl up into snow bank and whimper. Everything hurt – my triceps, my shoulders, my hips, my thighs. We were skiing in the woods and the trees were blanketed with a heavy layer of fresh snow. But despite the lovely scenery, I was not having fun.
We had to stop frequently – at least my husband did, so I could catch up. Finally after nearly an hour and a half, we came to a cabin where most of the ski classes had gathered to rest and have a snack, including M’s. When I asked him how he was doing, he didn’t look thrilled but he seemed in reasonably good spirits. His group took off in one direction and we went another. By this time, we were going downhill more than uphill, so it wasn’t as difficult. Still hard, but not excruciating. I was enjoying myself a little bit more.
We had not seen hide nor hair of M’s group for most of the morning, but all of a sudden, we seemed to be tripping over them. The first time M passed us, he was at the back of the pack, but still making an effort. The second time, he was climbing a hill and just before he got to the top, he fell and make a huge production of getting up. As he passed me he yelled, “I hate skiing!” The third time, we passed him, he wouldn’t even look at me. He wasn’t even pretending to have fun.
Most Saturday mornings, I am not very sympathetic to M’s complaints about skiing. But this morning, I understood how he felt. He isn’t the fastest skier in his group and when you are as competitive as he is, you are either first or a loser. He is a good skier – better than me – but I understand what it’s like to compare yourself to others. On classic skis, I am a confident skier – I have good technique and speed and I feel comfortable skiing But on skate skis, I am slow and my technique is ok, but not great. Plus, as the morning went along, the wind picked up and it got colder. Or maybe, because I was tired, I noticed it more.
By the time we all met near the parking lot, M was clearly tired and made a bee-line for the car. On our way home, I didn’t ask him if he’d enjoyed himself. I told him that I had found it tough going, but that I was glad I had gone out. Not every ski is a great one.
Tomorrow looks like a perfect day for skiing. We can take our classic skis – I’m sure we’ll enjoy ourselves.