I had an interesting experience over the weekend. On Sunday I skied 3 hours with my daughter’s ski club up at Lake Louise on Moraine Lake road. It’s a gradual (sometimes not so gradual) 10km uphill, out and back. They’d received several cm’s of snow overnight and the groomer was just completing his duty when I hit the trail. The skiing was magical. Classic technique with perfect wax... a wonderful time.
After replenishing my bonked body once at home, I settled in for a relaxing afternoon before getting ready for our evening church service. Opening up my computer and dialing in on youtube, I decided to watch one of the classic ski marathons of the world, the Marcialonga in Italy. This is one of the few remaining xc races I’d still kinda like to do. It was really entertaining....mostly. The race is a 70km double pole derby in a pancake flat valley (until the last 2km, when they climb to the top).
Quickly a lead pack formed and it was fun to watch....for about 7 minutes. That’s when nothing but watching double poling got sort of boring. Hard for me to believe, being the ski nut that I am who for most of my life was tv starved of my sport.
But every once in awhile, the helicopter cam would turn away to the spectacular Dolomite mountains. The amazing rugged mountains loaded with snow were quite a site. I imagined myself skiing some of those slopes, which wasn’t that hard to do since I’ve raced skimo twice now in Italy on mountains exactly like those. That’s when I realized a transition had taken place.
I switched youtube channels over to a skimo race (also in Italy) and saw an amazing contrast. The skimo racers were hammering up the mountain using a variety of techniques, even boot packing...even boot packing that was so gnarly they had to be roped in. Then of course came the descent. After ripping off the skins they descended an incredibly steep powder bowl that would have demanded highly advance alpine skiing skills. After repeating this whole process a couple more times they finally reached the valley bottom where a ski skate to the finish awaited them. With all the variety of skiing techniques and challenges it was pretty entertaining to watch.
The Marcialonga was mildly entertaining, but I moved the cursor over to the final 6 minute of the race electing to skip over 3.5 hours of double poling. Even with names like Aukland (2 of them), Northug, Carrera... the drama of the double pole derby couldn’t compare to the skimo action.
I’ve loved my xc ski life. And now my kids are entering the same world at my leading. However, part of me is so glad that I discovered this unique ski mountaineering race sport. Also glad that I live in an environment that I can also introduce my children and their friends to the great skimo sport.