A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Jackson Cross Country Skiing

January 31, 2021
Emilie Phillips

This weekend was our first trip out cross country skiing this winter. Which means it was Isaac’s first time on his new skis. Due in part to pandemic shortages, his new skis are waxable. I was sure he would love the fast downhill, but I wasn’t sure what he would think of less grip uphill.

Tyson and I wanted some time to ourselves, so we signed Isaac up for a lesson. The only slot available was at 9AM, probably because the morning temperature was around zero. I waxed Isaac’s skis with green wax, which should be good for snow between -4F and 14F. I hoped I got it right, and sent him off to class.

Isaac and his instructor Sally near the iconic Jackson covered bridge

When we picked him back up, the instructor said he had done pretty well. The lesson was a generic kid’s classic ski lesson. He had struggled a little with the uphills, and often herringboned or attempted to skate. Her main suggestion was that he needed longer poles. The other suggestion was to find him more kids to ski with. I wish.

On the way back to the car for a snack, Isaac wanted to show off the fun parts from the lesson. He showed us the downhill where he skied ungroomed snow. He did some “trick” that I have since forgotten. And he showed us his best skate that he had figured out. His poles flailed. His feet stomped. It was uncoordinated, dangerous, and inefficient. But he thought it was the best. And he really wanted to skate more. Tyson and Isaac discussed the mater over snack. Isaac didn’t want to admit he wasn’t already great at skating. But he also really wanted to go fast like the skater skiers he saw. He choose to accept that he could learn from Mom and Dad.

Tyson started immediately. By the time I got back from my bathroom break, Isaac’s foot work was much better. He saw immediate results. He could glide much farther. He still didn’t know what to do with his poles, and they were obviously way to short for skate poles.

We skied up Yodel and back down. Mostly classic, but with both Tyson and Isaac occasionally trying out their skate technique. My waxable skis were gripping much better than anyone else’s. The skis Tyson was on (which are actually mine), have metal edges like a backcountry ski, but they have a stiff camber like a high performance race ski. So you really have to put some spring into your kick and glide. Tyson wasn’t feeling that springy.

Near the top of Yodel, Isaac wanted to know what to do with his poles. So I showed him the V1 cadence (both poles with one foot, none for the other). He followed me and imitated. It took some thinking on his part. He had to do four or so strides with his feet before he could bring the poles in. But he got the concept. Then we zoomed back down the hill to the car and lunch.

Isaac learning to skate ski

Lunch was the usual covid-19 tailgate. We parked in the sun. There was no breeze. So it was actually quite warm. After lunch Isaac wanted to do more skating, preferably on a flat trail this time. I switched over to my skate skis to match the rest of the group. We tried giving Isaac my classic poles. They were just as much too long for him as his own poles were too short. But they seemed to help solidify his poling technique. He used them for part of the ski out the Ellis River Trail.

Returning from the warming hut, we told Isaac, that if we got back to the ski shop before they closed for the evening, we would buy him a pair of longer poles. He really wanted those poles, so he kept up his pace skating most of the way back. Only towards the end did he tire out enough to revert to classic. We bought the new poles. And best of all, they are adjustable. So he will have properly fitted classic and skate poles for a few years.

All Photos

GPS Track

Tyson paused the GPS track at lunch and forgot to restart it.