Ah, Nordic skiing. All the beauty, sweeping views and wholesome outdoorsy-ness of downhill skiing without the chairlift lines and parking lot schlepping of it’s alpine equivalent. The only negative that both types of skiing share is traffic. If only cross-country skiers could be airlifted to the lodge parking lot by their own smugness- I would have been there in seconds flat- then the sport would be perfect.
Of course all those feelings of superiority evaporated in the winter sunshine last Friday when I realized what I was about to do. I was about to ski off into the wilds (okay, a Frisco campground) with three generations of Czechs (okay, 2.5). It’s very possible my friend Mirka was born on skis. Her mother, Zuzka, probably skied to work, before she retired. These women eat sunshine and snow for breakfast. And I was going to try to keep up with them.
Fortunately, Mirka is a ski instructor and she possesses the grim determination and indefatigable confidence in her students necessary for her craft. And she was introducing her young son to the sport and would be hauling a sled behind her via a harness around her waist.
So, between her patience with me and her caution with the sled (she was in no way slowed down by the sled) we skied together for most of the morning. Mirka’s mom was inspired by the the sun, the kind breeze and the thirty degree temps to go exploring remote trails on her own and joined up with us later.
The result? A killer workout, dreamy conversations about what we would do professionally if we could do anything (Mirka: travelling the world and winning ski races, me: travelling the world and writing) and that feeling you get after skiing that you could eat anything for lunch and you would deserve it. My ideal apres ski lunch is also Czech inspired, a brie and rye bread sandwich and tomato soup. Years ago, during her first slow, patient skiing lessons with me, Mirka also introduced me to the creamy, restorative powers of that sandwich.
While I love a quiet, wintertime run, or the inward-turning of a yoga class, last week what I needed most was a work-out with a tough friend who pushed me to stay in the tracks on those diminutive cross-country downhills and who waited for me to right myself when I fell down. That and a good cheese sandwich.