Basic Ski Course – 06.02.-10.02.
Our first ski trip organised by the university took place at TrollAktiv in Syrtveit/Evje the biggest outdoor sports centre in southern Norway and just about one hour drive from Kristiansand.
As aims for this ski trip following aspects were considered:
- Learn to prepare your skies in different snow conditions
- Improve your ski techniques and skills
- Learn to dress right in different weather conditions
- Learn to read snow and avalanches
- Learn to guide a group in the mountains
- Learn to pack your daypack/rucksack for a winter trip
We arrived at TrollAktiv by car on Monday during midday. We didn’t have much time to make ourselves a home at our accommodation because it was planned to use the rest of the day for getting in touch with cross country skiing for the first time. Skies needed to be waxed, which happened to be taught by Len in a crash course in no time because we didn’t want to lose too much time. After a ten minutes’ drive, we arrived at our ski place, were divided into two different groups and for some of us it was the first time standing on skies at all. I used to ski when I was younger so I felt a bit comfortable again when I stood on the skies. However, the bindings were a big difference for me as they were much more loose than the bindings of the downhill skies. A loose heel decreases the stability and the balance when standing on the ski but makes it much easier to walk and move in the snow.
We used the first afternoon to get used to the skies and to learn some of the basics, such as
- Turning the skies (star turn, kick turn)
- How to get up
After arriving at the accommodation, Len hold a lecture about waxing and ski preparation. This was new to me so I gained a lot of knowledge during this session.
Wax must be applied every day. Two layers minimum and for longer tours three layers are suggested. But you can’t just wax your whole ski!
As shown in the image the ski consists of a Kick Zone and a Glide Zone at the tip and the tail. Only the Kick Zone needs to be waxed. Because of the structure of the ski and someone’s weight the wax will grip just in the moment when you are doing a step. That allows you to glide with the ski right when you are not putting your bodyweight on one ski. Therefrom comes the typical cross country skiing technique of step-glide-step-glide and so on.
We also learnt there is a different wax for each condition of the snow or air. Harder wax should be applied on cold days when the snow may be dry, softer wax is needed when it’s warmer and the snow is wet. Once you applied the right wax on the Kick Zone of the ski you need to heat it up with a cork or an iron so it forms a smooth surface on your skies.
If the snow is wet and icy and the temperatures are warm a thick liquid glue called Klister can be used instead of wax! A modern method is the use of tapes and skins.
On the second day, which was quite cold and windy, we went a little bit deeper in the skiing techniques. After repeating how to turn the skies and how to get up after falling Len showed us different techniques of cross country skiing, such as
- Diagonal stride - Herring Bone
- Double pole - Slow Plough
- Skating - Turning on the move
- Slow Plough turn
I had to get used to these different techniques for a bit but also improved after a certain time. It was a lot of fun and after spending half of the day with training the techniques we went for a little tour in the afternoon. It was the first time that I clearly recognised the wax underneath my skies. Anyhow, from my point of view I should have put a third layer of wax on my skies because I went downhill easily and fast but struggled going uphill a little bit.
In the evening Len hold a lecture about first aid in the field. Since injuries are always possible to happen outdoors we talked about a few and how to treat them.
|Cut/Scratch/Bruise||Clean the wounds and apply antiseptic substance|
|Deep Cut||Clean the wounds and apply plaster|
|Frostnip||Warm up affected body parts by putting on another layer or holding them close to your body|
|Frostbite||Can’t be treated in the field, go somewhere inside|
|Snow blindness||Put on goggles/glasses, if not available use scarf or sting little holes in bandage/tape to reduce light|
|Hyperthermia||Stop and warm up, have hot drinks and food and rest for 15-30min; process can be supported by another person heating affected one up|
|Bone fractures||Can’t be treated in the field, stabilize affected area|
Also we talked about what every first aid kit should consist of. Lists of content of a proper first aid kit can be read on following websites:
|Shovel||Hot drinks||Food||Sitting mat||Glasses/Goggles|
|Ski wax||Snacks||Extra clothing||First aid kit||Avalanche probes|
|Multi tool||Buff||Wind shelter|
Due to the bad weather, we started the third day with a lecture about how to pack your daypack for a winter trip. Len and Tim told us what is important to consider.
Because the weather hasn’t cleared up during the morning lecture we decided not to go up the mountains and stay in Evje instead. There wasn’t as much wind in the valley and therefore the temperatures were quite acceptable. We went on a 10km tour and from time to time Len told us to lead the group to certain locations. Predictable, the longer the tour lasted the more tired people got. It was obvious to see who was fit or had been standing on skiers before and who hasn’t. We made several breaks, played some games and had some laughs for warming up and cheering up the mood within the group. Although we haven’t been the fastest it was still a lot of fun and I personally further could improve my skiing skills.
On the fourth day, the weather had been way better and since the group got used to the skies we went up the mountain again. We switched guides and so Tim was our leader during the day. We skied off piste most of the time in deep powder snow and took turns in breaking the ice, which was way more exhausting than just skiing at the end of the group. We were able to practice some downhill skiing and Tim showed us another technique called Telemark. During the tour we saw some footprints in the snow from different animals like moose, fox or deer. In the afternoon, we organised a little racing competition and had snow fights.
On our last day, we went up the mountain again and did another ski tour. The weather has been nice again and we just enjoyed our last day of cross country skiing.
I had a lot of fun in the snow and really liked this trip. I haven’t been standing on skiers for over 10 years and it was my first time cross country skiing at all. Therefore, I improved my skiing skills a lot. Also navigating and orienteering in mountainous and wintry terrain was a new experience for me so I was able to increase my skill level in that as well.
Because it was our first trip within the whole class everybody was excited. I think I wasn’t the only one who wondered how different people would act in the mountains. Of course we got to know each other better since we spent all day and night together, which helped to form a better group cohesion as well. We all got along with each other although one could recognise everybody was a bit tired at the end.
A detailed guide of how to wax your skies and the image of the classic cross country ski can be found on http://xcskiing.ca/wax-guide.html (Accessed on 20.02.17).