Skitrip 08.02.2021 – 12.02.2021
The first Skitrip started on monday 08. febuary 2021. All students of the Outdoor Education Program 2021 met at 9.15am before the University of Agder. On the Busdrive (with masks) most of us were a bit excited, which showed in part of us playing loud music and part of us becoming relatively silent.
First day on crosscountryskis (08.02.)
Before we even started the crosscountryskiing, which was new to most of us, we were devided into two random groups and asked who was the best group. Since the others seemed more confident and answered louder, they got the „better skier Tim“ whereas we got Len as an Instructor. I myself did not feel overly confident in my skiing-skills at that time and when we started exercising I felt as if I was spending a lot of time lying in the snow.
On the first day I learnt how important it is to get the skis parallel to the slope whenever stopping, jumping or attempting a slow turn and that going up a hill can be really hard if there is not enough gripwax on the skis. Crosscountryskiing in general seemed to be a lot about strength to me. I worked hard with my arms to push me up the slopes or to stabilize my attempts to go down a hill safely.
It also showed soon that some of us acted rather bold and were willed to go fast and try new stuff even when they did not seem to have a full control over the situation. Others on the contrary where trying to ski as safe as possible and staying on their feet seemed to be their major goal.
In addition a few people had tried crosscountryskiing before and some others were just learning very fast so that it seemed as if there were a few people in our small group that were far ahead of the others (often literally).
Since we kept circling around in a rather small area, this was not that much of a problem. That may be something that a good instructor needs to think of. In the beginning it will probably often seem hard to keep a group together that has different previous knowledge and different approaches on how to learn or on how much one wants to risk, especially when this results in a difference in speed and also in a different choice of ways up or down the hills.
Choosing a small area to practise and encouraging the ones that are not daring as much as they could seemes to be a good solution for the first hours of training.
In the evening of the first day we had all together a lecture about waxing our skis. Tim explained that there are different methods to get enough grip with the skis to go up a slope.
Most effective for going up a hill seem skins which can be self-adhesive or just to be wrapped arond the ski, covering the whole length of the ski or just the area right underneath ones feet. Skins are a rather old method and provide good grip up the hill, but they also slow you down a lot when you are going downhill. Therefore they can be useful items to have in a backpack as an emergency tool for improved safety.
Skiwax was our choice for the skitrip. It came in round sticks reminding a bit of chalk and in different coulors and textures. The green wax was the hardest one and it was for extremly cold air tempretures. We used the green wax all over the ski as a basis for the blue wax which was fitting for the warmer but still relatively cold airtempretures we had on our trips. It is not as hard as the green one and the red wax, which is for even warmer airtemperatures and was therefor not used on this trip feels already pretty sticky. The essential airtemperature to choose the correct gripwax is the warmest of the coming day. The weatherforecast (e.g. yr) can provide one with the necessary information.
On the first day (before the waxing lecture) I put the blue wax just underneath my foot and stretched it out a bit to the front of the ski, covering all in all around a third of the surface in blue wax without the green wax as a basis and found it nearly impossible to walk up slopes. After that experience I always put on at least one layer of green wax all over the ski and at least two layers of blue wax starting at my heel and covering abot half the surface of the ski to the front. In addition it can be useful to take the wax on the daytrips in order to refresh at least the blue layer on midday, especially when skiing on hard, frozen snow or hardened trails.
When spreading the skiwax the layer should not be too thick and no chunks should be seen. After every layer the cork is used to rub the wax with long strokes from the tip to the heel until it can not be seen anymore.
It is easiest to wax the skis in a warm place for example near the fire in the evening or at least with the sun shining on the skiis.
Klister can be useful in very warm conditions to still provide a bit of grip but it is extremly sticky and has to be scratched of the skis (also the sides) after every use.
Practise and first small trip on crosscountry skis (09.02.)
On the second day I learned that it is important to check in the morning if one has all ones gear. When we had to drive back to fetch one pair of skis that was not too much fun for the person who had forgot them and also not for the rest of the group, who had to wait.
Reminding people at least on the first and second morning to bring their gear may proof helpful if I will lead and travel with groups in the future. Nontheless also the reminder that everyone has to think for themselves and bring their own stuff can be important.
First we practised a bit of the basic ski skills and afterwards we went for a small trip from lake to lake. The thought of beeing able to do a first small trip motivated me and as far as I know also my fellow students. We all wanted to learn as fast as possible and were very ready to leave our comfort zone. As a Veileader this seems important to know so the looking forward to doking greater trips keeps the group more motivated than other support might do.
From this day on we were doing daytrips and skiing in different places of the mountain region. At the beginning I had the feeling that we did not really act as a group. The people who could were going fast and those who were a little insecure were more or less left behind. This did not seem to happen out of a lack of caring but because everyone still had to focus on themselves in order to manage the skiing. As a tourguide it seems important to remember the group to keep together. Personally I was thinking that it might seem easier to keep the everyone who was struggling more to the front where he or she could receive more help and could not be lost/ forgotten behind. But especally when going downhill or up a steep hill it is not very easy to ski behind people who fall down a lot as long as oneself is not that good as stopping or turning.
As the skiing skills improved also the social skills showed more and more. Especially when we were starting to read maps we had to focus more on working together. Still, as there were few maps and some people were not really intrested in contributing (also because we felt all a bit insecure about it), social loafing became visible. No one really wanted to take the lead, because no one wanted to be responsible while being insecure about where we were and where to go.
But since one person had been appointed to do the task she and the (seemingly) more skilled people agreed that we might need to go back a bit and included everyone in the decision on doing so we got to where we wanted to in the end.
So in general appointing tasks to certain people can probably be very useful to achieve decisions and include everyone.
Personally I learned how important it is to keep track on where you are, even if skiing takes a lot of my attention. If I had been on my own I would probably have chosen a slower speed in order to be able to concentrate on skiing and have a look at the landscape and every mark that might also appear on the map at the same time. Also having a card and a compass ready at hand and check both regularly is important if I do not want to loose track in an unknown area.
If I do loose track or at least I am not certain if I am where I think I am I learned to move to prove. Looking at the map I can find a certain point which I should reach if I move into a certain direction for a certain distance. If I do that I will know wether I am where I expected to be.
Self build ski-playground
The last day was supposed to show us how to build an obstacleparcour to improve skiing skills for young skiers and have fun. So we could learn both: how to build the different types of challenges and how to use them.
I learned that it is better to build in the sun and let it settle for some time so it will become more stable before the first skiier tests it.
We were all a bit tired of the last days and were falling a lot, therefore it was good that the snow was soft and high.
All in all
All in all I enjoyed the trip very much and I have the feeling that I learned a lot more than just the basics of crosscountry skiing.
Especially the daytrips where we moved without a given way through the beautiful norwegian landscape gave me a great feeling of beauty and freedom. In addition to the normal hiking that I am used to, crosscountryskiing can be great fun in the wintertime and take you to areas, that you could not have seen otherwise (in winter).
If I continue practising my skiing skills I may be able to start skiing trips with groups to experience myself and help others to expierence the beautiful landscape in winter, increase our fitness, the teamwork of a group and our health.