Rau: Have fun while learning Nordic skiing | SkyHiNews.com

Rau: Have fun while learning Nordic skiing

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic Corner

Diana Lynn Rau

They giggled … and then there were peals of laughter. People stared from the Nordic Center at these kids having a great time. Kids who really didn't want to come to the free kids Nordic lessons were suddenly having fun and didn't want to stop.

We skied down slopes sitting down, kneeling on the skis, acting like a monkey, got dog rides up the hill, steered around the slalom cones racing each other and more crazy things. Who said you have to be serious and learn this sport school style?

These kids didn't even realize they were learning – learning control of their skis, learning control of their bodies for balance, learning how to ventilate when you are too hot so the sweat doesn't freeze, drink when you are thirsty, and eat snacks when you are hungry. So much to learn, but we can have fun doing it.

The attitude of the adults teaching is so crucial. We can laugh and be crazy too. We can lie on our backs and show kids how to raise their feet and skis into the air to straighten them out (when they seemed so impossibly tangled up!) and lay them neatly on the ground on the downhill side pointed across the slope so they can stand up. And if someone falls down, we all go down to practice getting up again.

“Both kids and adults learn the most when they are also having fun and discover that they really CAN do something.”

Games like scootering on one ski teach how to commit to your weight on one ski and we have glide contests with the winner enjoying their choice of bite sized candy. We throw or kick a soccer ball ahead and ski to it – the first one there gets to be the one to kick or throw it again. These kids (and adults too) use up lots of energy and most need to replenish part way through a lesson.

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Yes, we have healthier things available like granola bars or licorice. Kids march like soldiers up the hill so their heads are up and tiger paws (the pattern on the bottom of their no-wax skis) grab the snow. The monkey stance lets them go down hills secure in being lower to the ground with their legs apart, knees bent (your shock absorbers) and hands forward pointing where they want to go. All these things are really pretty silly but they work and everyone has fun. And the parents' jaws drop when they watch their kid for the first time going all the way down a steep slope without falling, a slope even the parent was a bit afraid to tackle!

Our kids learn as we teach. If we are too serious, most kids get turned off. If we are afraid to let them try, they will be afraid to try anything. If they don't fall, they aren't trying hard enough. We need to laugh with them, not at them.

The best teachers are often a bit unorthodox, a bit crazy, but always encouraging. Both kids and adults learn the most when they are also having fun and discover that they really CAN do something. And they will be more likely to be outside in the sunshine, even on those colder and windier days. When your kid tells you I want to stay out and ski more or I want to go back and do that again, Please listen.

That makes for more fun for the entire family. We want our kids and friends to ski with us so we have to be patient, understanding and encouraging. Make it social, invite friends, ski with your dog.

Foxy Freestyle

Or go to events like the Foxy Freestyle Nordic Race in Grand Lake on Feb. 28 where there is a 5K intermediate race also open to adaptive skiers or a 2K kids race. Let the kids see the adaptive skiers in action. These people missing legs and arms and more amaze adults and kids alike.

This is a benefit for the WP Disabled Competitive Nordic Program and all proceeds go to National Sorts Center for the Disabled. Call 970-627-808 for more information or register at http://www.imathlete.com (search "Foxy Freestyle").

Barnelopet

Also Feb. 28 is the Barnelopet at the YMCA, a free Nordic ski race for Kids sponsored by The Sons of Norway of Grand County and other Colorado Lodges. See the Feb. 18 Sky-Hi News of go to http://www.skyhidailynews.com for details. To register in advance, contact Lois Hodne at hiloie@aol.com or 303-795-6695.

Progressive Ski Dinner

The same night is Grand Huts Association Moonlight Progressive Ski Dinner. Join Snow Mountain Ranch and the Grand Huts Association on Saturday, Feb. 28, for a beautiful moonlit ski, five course meal, silent auction and live music by Sasquatch Mountain Project. Tickets are $60 for adults, $20 for children and are available at http://www.grandhuts.org/about/events.

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