While out skiing at Tsalteshi Trails the weekend after Christmas, Kent Peterson noticed a few people on the hill testing out their new skate skis. Peterson, who is a cross-country ski coach at Skyview High School, saw that the novice skiers could use a little help.
“I know its that time of year when people get new gear for Christmas and probably are making New Year’s resolutions to get in shape,” Peterson said. “So I thought since I had some free time during the winter break it would be awesome to offer some tips. Otherwise people would get frustrated and quit and the skis would sit in the attic.”
Peterson sent out a Facebook post through both the Tsalteshi Trails and Beemun’s Ski Loft page to offer free one-hour lessons on Saturday and Sunday. He was pleasantly surprised with the turnout. Ten people came out Saturday and 12 skiers showed up on Sunday.
Peterson said he saw several people with rented gear from Beemun’s and Wilderness Way, which he recommends as a good way to try out the sport before making the investment to purchase the equipment.
Rob Carson, who attended the ski clinic both days, said he rented his skate skis, boots and poles from Beemun’s for $30 for the entire weekend. Carson said he and his wife have looked into buying their own gear and the same basic setup cost upwards of $600.
“I would suggest renting first,” Carson said. “Our goal was for next Christmas we might (buy skate skis) but it might take me some more practice before I’m ready to invest. It is something I want to do and will do.”
Peterson started out the lesson by getting all the participants comfortable with skiing around first without poles on a flat path behind Skyview. He went over the proper technique, which requires the skier to push off with their legs in the similar motion as that of a figure skater. The shorter skis and longer poles can propel people faster than classic skiing. After 20 minutes on the flat path, Peterson took the group up the hill and showed them a few wide-open and easy trails to ski down.
“The trails can be a little daunting to go out there with the intersections — you don’t know where you’re going,” he said. I showed (Wolf and Moose trails), the easiest trails, in the company of other people so you are not totally lost out there.”
Peterson said he is partial to skate skiing as opposed to classic skiing because you can go pretty fast without the best form.
“Skate ski requires lots of technique but once you get it down I feel skating is easier because you can have poor technique and still move fast,” he said. “With classic ski racing, if you’re technique starts to falter you are going to suffer a lot. I like to go fast on the trails, it’s fun.”
Carson said he learned so much from Peterson.
“Kent remembers what it’s like to not have a clue what’s going on,” he said. “He stops you on the trail and points out all the bad habits and little things you’re not going to know. He is a good teacher.”
Brenda Ahlberg first tried skate skiing last year and purchased her equipment from Wilderness Way when it was cheaper at the end of the season. She said she first got into the sport for her son and received great help and advice buying locally.
“I have a lot to learn, but I really enjoy it,” Ahlberg said. “At first this was an investment for my kids, but it has lifelong benefits.”
Peterson said despite his busy schedule ramping back up with school resuming again, he will continue offering free lessons on Sundays at about 2 p.m. at Tsalteshi Trails for those interested in developing their skate skiing skills.
Peterson said this Tuesday the Midnight Sun Rowing Club will start winter training with skiing from 6-7 p.m.
Carson said he started skiing two years ago when his son was of age for the Tsalteshi Trails youth ski program. He bought waxless classics from Beemun’s when they were getting rid of their seasonal skis. Now the whole family goes skiing together and he pulls his young daughter behind in a sled.
“This is what my wife loves about winter now,” Carson said.
Dan Balmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org