Routt to Adventure: Classic skiing at Haymaker Nordic center (with video) |

Routt to Adventure: Classic skiing at Haymaker Nordic center (with video)

Last week, a good friend of mine left town for a new job in the South. Before she hit the road, she had an epic farewell tour, crossing things off her Steamboat Springs bucket list. We both had been wanting to try Nordic skiing, so we went to the Haymaker Nordic Center.

Neither of us had ever been classic skiing and I only Nordic skied a couple times in gym class in fifth grade back in Vermont. I had recently learned the motions, though, while backcountry skiing at Bluebird Backcountry.

We considered getting a lesson but figured we could get around on our own just fine, even if we weren’t doing it 100% correctly. We just wanted to spend a couple hours outside on a beautiful day and leave saying we tried something new.

Nordic equipment is like the backpacking version of ski gear. Everything is so small, light and easy to manage. The boots are soft and comfortable compared to every other winter sports boot.

I had no reference for how skis that skinny move and respond to adjustments. I put on my Alpine skis and they feel like an extension of my leg. I can move them anyway I want, and I know how they will react to everything from a toe twitch to a direction switch. These skinny rods that barely fit under the width of my foot were strange.

My friend had never put on skis before, and she did amazing! Throughout the entire afternoon she only fell a handful of times. I fell twice just trying to figure out how to get up the first hill.

I had never been in this situation before. Normally, I can navigate even steep sections of hills with Alpine skis just by skating. That didn’t seem to be an option here. I’d try, but the movements weren’t fluid and didn’t amount to much. I had to figure something out soon, so I could help my friend get up the small hill to start the Rabbit Ears Loop.

The classic track was slick despite it being a very warm day. I expected some sticky snow, but our skis couldn’t find any to cling to. We found that the classic motion outside of the track was the most efficient way to get up the hill.

Yes, I know this is probably incorrect. Next time, I’ll get a lesson and learn the proper way. We were just there to have fun, and once we got up the hill, the fun began. Classic skiing is so glidy and relaxed.

“We could have been really good at this,” my friend said.

If only we had started the sport years earlier, rather than days before she left town.

People commented on the odd conditions, and we just nodded like we had seen plenty of conditions in our time as Nordic skiers, and yes, these were strange. We had no idea, but it made us feel better that we were doing somewhat well on slippery snow.

We got more confident on the skis as the afternoon went on. We did a short lap around the Rabbit Ears Loop, repeated part of it and then moved onto Fox Trail since we were moving faster than we expected. A few kind people offered us some advice when we said it was our first day, which I’m sure we didn’t need to say. Our technique, or lack thereof, probably alerted them long before we did.

The Haymaker Nordic Center has a great variety of terrain for classic and skate skiers.

Next time, we’ll get better educated but we succeeded in spending an afternoon together doing something new and soaking up some sunshine.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it endlessly: People should always seek to learn new things. It’s humbling, reminds us we don’t know everything (which many people can benefit from), and it’s just plain fun to try a new skill.

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