Learn how to cross-country skiFrom 1-3 p.m. Saturday, people can learn to cross-country ski at no cost at the Spirit Mountain Nordic Center.
By: Esther Piszczek, for the Budgeteer
Anne Flueckiger is crazy about skiing.
She loves the challenge of getting outdoors in the winter and using her body in new ways. As a current board member and past president of the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club, she also loves finding new ways to introduce others to her sport.
That’s why she wants local residents to know about Saturday’s free event at two local ski centers.
From 1-3 p.m., people can learn to cross-country ski at no cost at the Spirit Mountain Nordic Center, 9500 Spirit Mountain Place, or at the Snowflake Nordic Ski Center, 4348 Rice Lake Road, in Duluth as part of the Winter Trails program. Both venues will have free equipment rentals, day passes and coaches giving basic instruction to beginners.
“I’m personally interested because (cross-country skiing) is so much fun and you can do it at any age,” Flueckiger said. “I feel the ski club should help people get instruction. There is not enough of that in this town.”
The Spirit Mountain Nordic Center is a public ski trail managed by the City of Duluth, the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club, and Spirit Mountain Recreation Area.
Duluth joins almost 100 other Nordic centers and resorts nationwide participating in Winter Trails, a day created specifically for the purpose of introducing newcomers to the joy of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Snow Sports Industries America, a nonprofit organization based in Vermont, began the Winter Trails program 18 years ago as a way to give people a new way to enjoy the snow.
“We encourage people to embrace winter, whatever it is you are doing — snowboarding, cross- country skiing, alpine skiing, our message is: ‘Winter is fun,’ ” said Reese Brown, Nordic director for Snow Sports Industries America. “And we feel, if you live in a snow-covered area, how do you go through four, five, six months of the year miserable?
“If you are dressed properly and have the right equipment, you can have a great time at 20 degrees,” Brown said.
Ski Hut and Continental Ski and Bike have teamed up with the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club to provide equipment for the event Saturday at Spirit Mountain Nordic Center, where volunteer and paid coaches will show people new to cross-country skiing how to get started.
Snowflake Nordic Ski Center also is participating and will provide free day passes, equipment rentals and basic instruction during the 1-3 p.m. time slot.
There are two types of cross-country, or Nordic, skiing: classic and skate. The classic method is like walking on skis in two parallel tracks, while the skate method is like ice skating on skis. Both participating Nordic Centers have groomed trails that will accommodate both methods of skiing.
Nikolai Anikin, manager of Continental Ski and Bike, has this advice for beginners: “A relaxed, bouncy knee is a shock-absorber; a straight, rigid leg will launch you off balance and cause you to fall. Bring a joyful attitude.”
New this year, the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club is managing the Spirit Mountain Nordic Center and has made several improvements, including reorganizing trails, adding signs and maintaining the trails. Spirit Mountain has more than 22 kilometers of trails and Snowflake has 15 kilometers of groomed ski trails to explore.
The Winter Trails program is “a great time to get someone to show you the trails and see what has been done out there,” said Siiri Morse, manager of the Spirit Mountain Nordic Center.
The Nordic Chalet at Spirit Mountain will be open and refreshments will be provided Saturday for the Winter Trails program, and information will be provided on how to join the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club and get a Minnesota Ski Pass.
George Hovland, owner of Snowflake Nordic Ski Center, said: “Learn to ski and they’ll be hooked for life. If someone is fat, they will get thin; if someone is weak, they will become strong; if someone is unhappy, they will become happy.”