Nordic Newbies | The Adventure BeginsAlder Creek Adventure Center, Alder Creek Cafe, Association News, Cross Country Ski Area, Featured, Trails
By Tiffany Connolly | Photos by Trevor Clark
We collectively looked up at the bluebird sky, squinting and feeling the heat of the sun on our faces. With rental gear in hand, Joe Reeder and I walked out onto the snow, ready for our first-ever Nordic ski lesson. While I spend most of my winter snowboarding, Joe spends his alpine skiing. We work together in Tahoe Donner Communications + Marketing and thought it would be fun to try something new this season.
“Having spent a lot of time on skis, I was excited to get a feel for how Nordic skiing might be different from the alpine skiing I am used to. The first thing I noticed was that the boots were much more comfortable and that you can gear up and be out on the snow in just a few minutes – which was great. That first lesson we worked on the basics, getting into a balanced stance and shifting our weight from ski to ski. We soon got into a rhythm where we were easily gliding along the green trails. The time flew by and by the end of our lesson, I couldn’t wait to get back onto the snow and continue working on everything I had just learned,” said Joe.
“IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE TEMPERATURE IS, IF THE SUN IS SHINING, YOU CAN’T HELP BUT FEEL WARM,” SAID HERB HOLDEN, OUR CROSS COUNTRY INSTRUCTOR FOR THE NEXT HOUR AND A HALF.
My interest in Nordic was fueled by the disappointment I feel at the end of a fun and active summer of riding my mountain bike and trail running on the extensive trail system at Alder Creek Adventure Center and in the Euer Valley. Snowboarding is fun, but it isn’t much of a workout, and running in the snow isn’t for me. I was looking for a winter activity that would allow me to continue to enjoy the epic trails in Tahoe Donner’s backyard while also staying in shape.
A big bonus is that cross country clothing is really comfortable, cute and fun to wear. In the fall months, the Bikeworks pro shop makes its transformation to the cross country pro shop, and I can’t help but notice the warm Kuhl jackets and cozy base layers with fun patterns that hit the shop’s floor. So, obviously, the first thing I did was buy a new pair of XC leggings. You can wear those
around all day, right?
For someone who had never been on skis a day in her life, I wasn’t really sure what would be in store. Snowboarding has been my thing for the last 12 years, but sitting at Alder Creek Adventure Center, and watching the Nordic skiers walk in the door with smiles plastered on their faces really piqued my interest in the sport.
I was thankful for the mild conditions and forgiving weather we were gifted the morning of our private lesson. Our rental boots were super comfy and the skis were light and easy to carry. We meandered past the roaring fire pit on the large stone patio at Alder Creek Adventure Center and made our way onto the snow.
First, we learned how to stride along gently on the beautifully groomed corduroy and then stepped into the tracks that are groomed and set every evening. It was easy, flowy and an amazing ab workout. We cruised around Pony Express and then left on North Fork, our instructor reminding us to look at the tree line, and not at our skis. Along the way, he showed us how to double pole, which is when you plant both poles into the snow and then push forward with your core. If you do it right, it takes very little energy, as our instructor continued to explain and reinforce.
We circled a bend tucked in tall pines until we found ourselves at the top of a small hill, aptly named “Practice Hill.” Here, we learned that we could either take our skis off and walk down, or we could learn how to ski down with control. We chose the latter and took a few practice runs down the hill, wedging our skis, learning turns, speeding up and slowing down, until we felt comfortable. From there, we skied back to the TD Cross Country Ski Center, putting into practice everything we had learned over the last hour.
I WALKED AWAY FROM THAT LESSON WITH A HUGE GRIN ON MY FACE—I WAS HOOKED AND READY TO SIGN UP FOR MORE.
Enjoying the cool mountain scenery, the company, and the entire outdoor experience, all while getting an amazing winter workout, was the perfect recipe to entice me into future Nordic adventures.
Joe also continues to learn. “I have found all the instructors at TDXC to be friendly and clearly passionate about what they do. As a newbie, each instructor I’ve worked with has been able to coach me on small adjustments that have helped me to move more efficiently without overwhelming me,” he said.
Beginning a new sport later in life can seem daunting and scary at first. However, the experience we had at Tahoe Donner Cross Country was truly enjoyable. The ease of renting gear, the warm and welcoming instructors, and the entire experience of gliding through amazing Sierra scenery already has me pining for more cross country exploration.
Sign up for private lessons for yourself or a few of your friends. Lessons can be booked by the hour or purchased as a five-pack. Register for a private lesson package, which includes a one-hour lesson, day pass and rental gear.
Adult Learn-to-Ski Group Lessons are available on weekends and holiday peak periods. Pricing starts at $79 for members and includes instruction, a day pass and gear rental.
LEARN TO SKI THURSDAYS
Mention this promo when you book a private XC ski lesson for any Thursday in February and get rentals and a day pass for free. COST: Member $85 | Public $95 | Must book 24+ hours in advance
To learn more about private and group cross country ski lessons visit tahoedonner.com/xc or call (530) 587-9484.