My love of cross country skiing started when I took my son away on a Winter Experience with Waymark in 2006 to Hovda in Norway. As a mother of a 12 year old I had spent time over the previous years watching football and trips to swimming with him, so it came as somewhat of a shock to the system when on day 3 we switched from snowshoeing (also exhausting whilst cutting a track up the mountain), to 2 days of cross country skiing.
If the snowshoes were anything to go by – old fashioned strap on wooden devices which I discovered on the 2nd day I had two left feet of (that explained a lot!) – then the quality of the skis were also somewhat to be desired with mostly worn out fish scales with no ply, which didn’t suit anyone’s weight. However, our trusty guide for the week Allen Carr, decided that I needed encouragement and gave me the only pair of decent waxable skis. The problem was, that having never skied before, I knew nothing about grip wax (or how to herring bone up hills for that matter) and I couldn’t understand why everyone else could just walk up the hill when all I did was slide backwards. It did keep Allen amused, but he finally took pity on me after half a day and got the blue extra out.
Once back home I wanted to keep it up and so the nearest thing I found was a Nordic walking course in St Albans park run by Heathley Clarke. I thought this was great as it gave me the same momentum I craved, whilst giving me a very good workout. I spent a couple of years strutting about with my poles trying to explain to everyone about the total body workout, when all they thought was I was walking funnily. Ten years later, who would have thought the nordic walking craze would have taken off and reached the masses. Perhaps there is hope for the other nordic disciplines yet!
In 2008 I found myself single after a long marriage, so what better way to occupy myself than to discover how to cross country ski properly. I booked an Exodus holiday to Sjusjøen, Norway for February. I felt a little out of my comfort zone travelling solo for the first time,but soon got talking to people and discovered there were a group of 6 singles on the mainly family (half term week) holiday, and we were a merry band. Several of them are still Facebook friends today, and I began a life long friendship with Jane, affectionally referred to as Jersey Jane, whom I’ve had many ski adventures with.
I spent the next few years enjoying a holiday a year with Exodus in Kvitåvatn, Norway – always being the first one to have a face plant. This is where I met Mary Wray, who still instructs for Exodus there and is a member of LRNSC. She suggested I could improve my balance by taking up rollerskiing. Excited by the concept of improving to a point where I didn’t always fall over, I booked myself on a rollerski course in Hyde Park with Iain Ballantine of Rollerski.co.uk and Ekatarina Rachel did her best to teach me over the next four weeks. I was so pleased I could finally do something outside of winter that felt like cross country skiing.
As a central London location was not convenient for me, I discovered the London Region Nordic Ski Club at the Hillingdon cycle circuit and went along for a practice. They were so welcoming, and I found that training with others helped my confidence, so I joined the club. A few years later I thought that I could help on the committee so I took on the role of membership secretary 2012. Since then they have got me to race on snow as well as rollerskis and whilst I’m possibly the slowest in the club, often being overtaken by children … and also am not a stylish rollerskier, I have a great sense of accomplishment in what I do, and an even bigger enthusiasm and an interest in continuing to learn. Everyone is always so encouraging that it spurs me on!