Conquering XC

Many years ago, during a particular dry and warm winter in Summit County, Colorado, I decided to end my boredom on the mountain by picking up a new challenge in telemark skiing.  Suddenly, runs that were once considered bland were now quite formidable, with basic blues skiing more like brutal blacks.  It was just what the doctor ordered, and thankfully I didn’t end up in the doctor’s office, either.  It was a nice reminder that, even though you might have “mastered” one discipline out on the hill and could practically do it with your eyes closed (a good way to find that doctor’s office), trying something new is not just humbling, it presents a profoundly rewarding challenge.  Many of us might not even remember what it was like to learn how to ski, since we were so young when we picked it up that it almost seems innate.  So, as Sugar Bowl Resort takes on operations at Royal Gorge Cross Country, this was the perfect season to take on that “profoundly rewarding challenge”, and attempt to master the discipline of XC skate skiing.  Truly, the hardest part of this whole endeavor was step #1…buying a pair of tights.  I couldn’t believe I was doing it.  But, look the part, as they say.  So with that taken care of, it was time to jump right in.  Thankfully, I had an accomplice who was in exactly the same position as myself, an accomplished skier/snowboarder looking to find out what all the fuss was about.  So we donned our clown feet, and, after one humiliating spill right in the middle of the Village, we shoved off.  And of course we weren’t going to add to the humiliation by actually taking a lesson, of all things…we could figure this out on our own.  And after about 5km of floundering (and seriously burning triceps), we did just that.  It clicked.  Pole, glide, slide & smile.  The sense of accomplishment was awesome, but what was even better was the realization that I now have another wintertime sport.  There’s nothing like getting out in the elements, geared up and going for it, and XC adds a whole new opportunity.  It’s a great time, an incredibly good work out, and it turns out they do in fact make tights that are not so, well, tight.  So check out Royal Gorge– America’s largest XC resort with 200km on 6,000 acres of jaw-dropping terrain – you’ll be glad you did.

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