Rau: A little courtesy on the slopes, trails goes a long way | SkyHiNews.com

Rau: A little courtesy on the slopes, trails goes a long way

By Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic President
All forms of skiing, snowshoeing and other backcountry usage have common courtesies that are important to know before you go out on the trail.
Photo courtesy Jeff Russell

Children’s Lessons

Presented by Grand Nordic, free lessons for children 5-10 years old are Jan. 10-Feb. 28 at Snow Mountain Ranch. No experience is needed, and trail pass and equipment are provided for the lesson. Most classic or skate lessons are progressive, but there is always space for drop-ins. Lessons are 1-2:30 p.m. If you need equipment, you should come 30 minutes earlier to be fitted with gear. Parents are encouraged to help when possible to learn how we work with their children. Call Snow Mountain Ranch at 970-887-2150 ext. 4173 to register or call Grand Nordic at 970-887-0547 for more information.

The Gods have blessed us with good snow early this year and, more recently, opened the skies to bestow a beautiful white blanket. Hopefully, it continues into the rest of the winter season. The blessing also means our trails are crowded, lodging and parking are hard to come by, and tempers can sometimes flare. Hey, where is the holiday spirit?

How much extra thought does it take to control your temper, say encouraging words or look for teachable moments in a bad situation? Whatever happened to old fashion manners? Too often our kids learn from watching other family members or friends, so why not try to set a good example?

All forms of skiing, snowshoeing and other backcountry usage have common courtesies that are even considered “rules” by some. Cutting into lift lines is something that kids’ ski classes need to do, and the instructors do it in ways that make you feel good to work with them.

Cutting people off skiing downhill is never courteous and often dangerous. Having an awareness of your surroundings and the level of accomplishment of the people around you are particularly important in alpine skiing. More accomplished skiers need to show patience. Nordic skiing has more options. People are more spread out on the trails, but when tracks exist, it’s still important to learn the rules.

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When coming fast down a track and encountering uphill skiers, it is not always easy to avoid them. Most of the time, it is easier for the uphill skier to step out of the track and let the downhill skier pass. This is not a hard and fast rule, as the downhill skier may be quite accomplished and can easily step out of the track while the uphill skier is struggling. The important issue is for experienced skiers to allow the struggling skier space and vice versa.

Don’t be two or three across the trail and block all those who want to pass. That is a recipe for trouble. Hopefully, that courtesy and patience can carry over into the Nordic Center or parking lot, where people of all levels and ages are concentrated and often dogs are thrown into the mix. Make it a year round behavior and not just for the holidays.

When teaching kids, we teach them that just being outdoors enjoying the sun and snow can be fun. We teach them that they can do the needed skills themselves if shown how. Patience is paramount. Food and candy as rewards can often work wonders because the kids are consuming energy and need to replace it. We also teach them that if we find candy wrappers on the trail, there will be no more candy rewards.

Water and proper rehydration is another important issue, as well as clothing that adjusts for heat and cold. Still, the lessons we teach might be the most critical. We teach others to move over to let other skiers pass. We look for animal tracks and other gems of nature and teach what to do when wild animals are present. We teach the kids to help each other and often use other young people as helpers. All are good lessons for adults as well.


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