In Praise of Spring

Despite rumours to the contrary, spring will come to Whitehorse this year. Yes, really.

And with spring comes the best skiing of the year. Forget the bike for awhile, even if you’re longing to jump on it for that first cold, dusty ride of the year. Skiing is still where it’s at.

Spring is the time when, with your dues appropriately paid, you get to reap the dividends of all those kilometres invested when temperatures were on the frigid side.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that skiing stops when downtown Whitehorse starts to dry up. With the ground still well frozen, trails that have been packed regularly hold their snow long after it’s melted on your front lawn.

And many of the trails you may want to use well-shaded, further helping with snow retention.

Spring skiing at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club stretches well into April, and occasionally into early May, giving us the luxury of a full 6-month ski season in most years.

With the warmer temperatures comes glide – lots of glide. Lots of glide means long, easy, effortless skiing, so you can enjoy the sun that much longer.

Spring temperatures tend to create grooming problems, which is where the club’s extensive investment in equipment – not to mention the expertise of the people operating it – really takes on a starring role.

Those warm, above-freezing days combined with cool nights can turn that nice snow into something resembling cold concrete. Not great for skiing, as anyone who has tried the trails at Chadburn in late March can attest.

But that grooming gear at the ski club turns the hard stuff into perfect snow that, while still being fast, is also forgiving, just soft enough to set an edge as you make those perfect step turns.

Be sure to check the trail conditions on the club’s website (or ask in the office) before you head out, just to make sure you are picking the trails with the most recent grooming.

Spring is also the time to consolidate that technique you’ve been working on all winter. Perfect it now, and you’ll start off next fall that much ahead.

When skiing is easier, so is working on that weight-shifting. Want to really get it nailed? Try doing some easy loops without poles. Going up hills without poles is easy if you have good weight shift, impossible if you don’t.

Of course the biggest joy of spring skiing is getting out on the trails wearing a layer or three less than you’ve been hauling around all winter. Akin to that first run of the year while wearing shorts, skiing with relatively little clothing on gives a wonderful sense of freedom.

With the warm weather, the whole experience becomes that much more social. Not that it isn’t in the dead of winter, but it really is a lot easier to stop and chat as you admire the view when you can soak in some warm sunshine at the same time.

It really is the best time of the year, so make sure you get out and enjoy it.

See you on the trails.

Claude Chabot is executive director of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. If you have questions about the club or its extensive network of trails, you can reach Claude at [email protected]

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