One plank or two? A snowboarder tries Nordic skiing and lives to tell about it…

Leave it to a place like Devil’s Thumb Ranch to lull you into the peaceful trance that says “yes” to everything. With over 6,000 acres of groomed nordic terrain, I could have just defaulted to my go-to winter sport of running with Yaktrax on, but the PR woman, Holly, convinced me that I was a wuss if I didn’t try Classic Nordic Skiing when she had all the equipment ready for me, along with one of the best instructors around. I’ve not been on a pair of Nordic skis ever, and hadn’t been on Alpine planks in fifteen years. So, I had reservations, and lots of questions. The biggest one was: I thought this was like snowshoeing. You mean, it’s difficult enough to require lessons? The answer is yes, if you want a solid start into the sport. Okay. I’m game.

Things that surprised me:

1) The boots are comfortable. You could dance in them if you wanted. Onlookers were thankful I didn’t.

2) The skis and poles are so thin and light, you’ll forget you’re carrying them. My apologies to everyone I clocked in the noggin’ on my way to the trails.

3) The tip that worked best for me (in terms of stance and posture) was when the instructor told me to pretend I was staggering forward after drinking too much. Who knew he’d tailor the lesson just for me?

4) The number of times I ended up on the ground. I was told it would be overkill and nerdy to wear my boarding helmet.

5) How comfortable I felt in zero degree weather with no hat and just a baselayer. Truly, there is no warmer way to be under a blue sky, moving your body, shadowed by 12,000 foot peaks, than gliding on a nordic trail. Sitting by a fire would not have taken the chill off as well as Classic skiing did.

All and all, I had a blast, learned a new sport, and only have a few bruises today. The bottom line: Nordic is an extremely beautiful way to get out in the snow and get a hip-flexor-stretching, glute-burning, quad-strengthening workout.