Please login to access your business profile
A lone skier gracefully glides down a trail lost in thought and surrounded by the quiet of a snow-covered day. They soak in the solitude and stillness of the forest as they skate through the crisp winter air. Then, around the next turn, that idyllic serenity kicks over to exhilaration and speed as the trail takes a dive downhill. And that, says Lisa and Dan Ostermiller, is why they never get tired of Nordic skiing. “I love being in nature and it is so quiet,” says Lisa. “But it is also amazing exercise.” Dan agrees. “I really love being out in nature,” he says. “It is a really peaceful place to be…but I also love the downhill. It’s a challenge to stand on those skinny skies and go as fast as you want.”
And that, it seems, makes Nordic skiing the perfect sport for anyone! Whether you are after a leisurely ski to enjoy a bluebird day or an adrenaline rush on skinny skis, both are easily attainable – and it doesn’t require a full day commitment. “We both also love to powder ski,” says Dan, “so we often try to arrange our day so we can downhill ski in the mornings then Nordic ski in the afternoons.”
Which sounds like a perfect winter day to us…assuming we actually know how to Nordic ski. And if you have never clicked into a cross country ski, the allure of all the sport has to offer can’t diminish the awkwardness of standing on skinny skies for the first time. But Lisa and Dan say that definitely shouldn’t stop you. “We really just invite you out to give it a try,” says Lisa. “Because there really is nothing like being on the snow.”
As with all things new, a lesson really is the best way to get a proper introduction to the sport. “I think classic skiing is a beautiful way to start,” says Lisa. “People are really familiar with the motion, so it is a great way to get comfortable balancing on skis.” The end goal of any lesson, says Lisa, is to get you out there to glide. “Once you get that glide down it really is magical,” she says.
They also teach a lot of people to skate ski. “The motion of classic to skate ski is actually fairly similar, but there is mentally more intimidation with skate skiing,” says Lisa. But that is where an instructor can really help. “We can help you master the skills, but we also have a lot of fun,” says Dan. Lisa agrees. “When we are both out giving a lesson, I can hear Dan laughing and I know he is having fun out there.”
Along with great instructors like Dan and Lisa, there are a few essentials that can make a lesson even more enjoyable. “Wearing the right layers can make all the difference,” says Lisa. Whether you classic or skate ski, it doesn’t take a lot to get warm fast. “I recommend wearing a light layer underneath, a midweight insulating layer if the day is cold, and then top that with an outer shell,” says Lisa. Then as you heat up, you can mix and match layers so you stay warm, but not hot. “It is also a really good idea to come hydrated and not hungry.
For a lesson, renting equipment is the best way to go and like alpine skiing, boots that fit are the best investment you can make. And if you are looking to purchase any equipment, the best thing to do is to have a knowledgeable retailer help you get started. “There are lots of options and different equipment for classic and skate skiing,” says Lisa. And if you go to a place like a ski swap, just be sure to bring someone who Nordic skis with you. “It can be tricky to know what boots go with what bindings so be sure to ask,” she says. That way you know the equipment you take home will work for you when you get out on the trail.
Nordic areas around McCall are known for their flow and garnering more and more attention for the diversity of terrain they offer. But it takes a lot of man hours and equipment to maintain the trails. Each area has different options for day and season passes. “I like to remind people to just be aware of the trail fees and make sure you have a pass,” says Lisa. “It really impacts our ability to maintain the quality of the trails.”
Book a Lesson: Schedule a private lesson or reserve your spot in one of the weekly group lessons held at Bear Basin Nordic Center. Group lessons are held every Saturday starting in late December and running through mid-March. Classic lessons start at 11am and skate ski lessons start at 1pm. Book online at payettelakesskiclub.org.
Free Ski Day! This annual event is held in early January at Ponderosa State Park and is a great way to try Nordic skiing. Park entrance fees and trail fees are waived for the day, and they also offer free lessons and rental packages for the day (must reserve in advance). Learn more at parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/ponderosa/
Grooming Report: Visit mccallnordic.com to access a grooming report and stay in-the-know about skiing conditions at each of the six Nordic ski areas including The Activity Barn, North Valley Rail Trail, Bear Basin, Jug Mountain Ranch, Tamarack Resort, and Ponderosa State Park.