Here we are, gearing up for an afternoon of cross-country skiing in the lodge. These two students are visiting their professor who is a visiting scholar at U of M.
This is my colleague; she was a natural. I think she would have skied all day if there hadn't been time constraints.
This Winter, I have been enjoying some outdoor winter sports. Last week-end, I went with the Hospitality Center for Chinese to a Recreational area out in a suburb. This center had tubing, snow-boarding, and cross country skiing. My car load chose cross-country skiing. I remember cross-country skiing a few times in High School with my dad. We went for at least an hour in the empty field behind us. We could often hear the neighbor's dogs (coyotes) howling at us. We didn't care; we felt invincible in our snow pants, padded coats, and mittens. I remember it being easy; last week-end, I was proved oh so wrong.
As you can see a little bit from the photos, some of the course was hilly. The pro's would whip by on their pointed skates and swift arm strokes in perfect sync. The really good ones didn't even use poles. They moved their legs as though they were skating, their arms resting comfortably on their backs. Let's contrast that now to our group of skiers: we fell a lot, we went slow, we sometimes only used our poles especially when going uphills.
At one point while going down the hill, I thought I was going to die. It was at a part of the course that was a little steep. Even as I started going down the hill, I knew I was going too fast, and I wasn't sure how to gain control. My poles were extended like wounded wings; my legs felt as though they were being pulled into the splits. I barely held on to my upright position, swerving from one side to the next. And yet, somehow by the grace of God, I didn't wipe out. But my heart was sure pounding, and there again, my attitude wasn't the best "How is this cross-country skiing? I feel like I'm on a training course for the downhill Olympic try-outs?" And that was before I turned the corner and saw the equivalent hill going upward. "Grrr" I growled.
At the end of an hour, we were exhausted. I found myself not really enjoying cross-country skiing as much as I remembered. In a dark, empty, cornfield when form doesn't really matter and you don't have to worry about hills, you feel kind of awesome and adventurous. At the rec center in Minnesota, being passed left and right by pros in winter tights and goggles, you kind of feel lame. And I started to swear at each one of the pro's as they passed me, "**** show-off" I would huff into my scarf. That's when I thought it might be a good point to call it quits for the day.
And yet, I think we all enjoyed the afternoon and are better for the experience. Some of my friends think I'm really adventurous and like all outdoor sports; I let them live in the delusion because sometimes I live there too.