Let’s just say I didn’t move to Australia for the snow. However down in Melbourne our winters actually get quite wintery and Bill wanted to make a snowball in Australia, so it seemed appropriate to pop to the local ski resort and try our hands at cross country skiing.
I’ve been downhill skiing a few times – twice in Italy and a couple of times in my motherland, Scotland. However I couldn’t believe it when we pulled up to Lake Mountain Resort (turns out to be a mountain, not a lake) and it looked like a little piece of the Alps had been transplanted into Victoria – chalets and all.
I love downhill skiing but I have to admit that the long chairlift lines, crowded slopes and the pervading feeling that I am about to break a leg/die makes it quite a stressful endeavour and I find that I leave the snow more exhausted than energised.
Cross country skiing is a completely different thing though, and once I’d spent a good ten minutes working out how to put on my skis (only the toe of your boot clips in, much confusion) I knew that I was going to love this kind of skiing. The skis are thinner and lighter than downhill skis making them much less cumbersome and enabling the skier to ski uphill as well as across and down. I adored being able to move more freely, allowing for some experimentation and a lot of stumbling. . .
I did not, by any means, show any natural talent for this new sport, but by the end of the day I was pretty much (pretty much) “skating” across the snow in the way that is in vogue for the modern day cross country skier (there is an old way too, which is much less effort and really the only way I could clomp up the hills). So I was pretty pleased with my progress.
An interesting combination of rambling and skiing, cross country skiing is far more civilised than the downhill alternative, allowing for conversation, breaks, and a picnic mid-ski – much more my cup of tea. It’s a lot of exercise (every muscle will hurt tomorrow) and it has just the right amount of thrill to make it that bit more interesting than your average country walk, yet a little less terrifying than screaming down a red slope in Italy. So although I may be the only person to come back from Australia a skier rather than a surfer – I think I may have been converted.