Easing Into winter

OK, so it’s been a bit cold out, the light is going, your skis have cobwebs on them and you can’t find your mitts.

Enough excuses already!

As I write this, Whitehorse is approaching record snowfalls for the month of November. November is often a month suitable only for the diehards, picking their way among the rocks as they head out for their daily exercise.

Not this year. This year, as much of the rest of the country has been suffering from warm temperatures and no snow, we have been truly blessed. And skiing is superb.

The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club started packing some of its trails on October 13 this season. By mid- November, there was enough snow so that the full 80 km circuit was being groomed.

With all this snow, the trails are great for every level of skier, not just the experts who actually seem to like skiing on ice.

But for some, getting into the swing early in the season can be tough.

Yes, it’s windy out sometimes. Remember that when you are on cross country ski trails, you are out of the wind except for a few brief intervals. And it’s pretty easy to dress to protect yourself against the wind.

And yes, it can be cold. But you will be moving and it’s pretty amazing how much heat your body can generate as you cruise the trails.

You will find that your biggest problem may well be overdressing and getting too warm, rather than being cold.

The key is to wear multiple light layers so that as you warm up you can adjust, keeping your body temperature just right.

The biggest problem most people have in cold weather is keeping their hands warm enough.

If this is your problem, make sure you wear mitts rather than gloves. There are many weights and styles available—talk to your friends or the staff at local ski shops and they’ll steer you into something that will work.

So, you’re all dressed up and ready to go. What next?

Skiing uses pretty much every muscle in the body, some you may not even know you had (but don’t worry, you’ll discover them soon enough)!

The key, despite early season enthusiasm, is to get into the sport slowly.

Go easy your first time or two out on trails. Keep both your speed and distance down at first, then, gradually increase your efforts as the season progresses.

This is the time to start building those good habits. While you spent the early part of the winter getting used to not skiing, now is the time to get a routine of skiing underway.

Make it a part of your schedule, not just an afterthought when you have some spare time. Your body and mind will both thank you.

And as you ease into the season, don’t mindlessly plod along. Think about that technique you had last season. Remember glide and weight transfer?

If you feel too rusty, take a lesson or two, or enroll in a clinic with one of the local ski schools.

You’ll be an expert again in no time – and having fun in the snow.

See you on the trails.

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