I’ll admit it: I’ve never been very good at winter sports. That’s not to say I was a star athlete in summer sports — I was only OK at basketball and volleyball as a kid, but that was likely due to my having reached five-foot-nine by the time I was 12. I wasn’t exactly skilled – just a good height to stop my shorter opponents.
In winter, the thought of having to dress up like the Michelin Man just to be able to bear the cold outside — I dared not drink any liquids before I went out, just in case. As a result, I didn’t downhill ski. I never learned to snowboard. I discovered I have weak ankles and find it impossible to stop on ice skates unless there’s a snowbank to fall into or a rink board to grab onto. For a born-and-bred Canadian, I’m clearly not much of a winter person. But I’ve always loved cross-country skiing.
You didn’t need anything really fancy — you could easily pick up a pair of second-hand skis, boots and poles from a yard sale since kids grew so quickly out of them. Back then, Play It Again Sports was just starting up so that was always an option, too. After that, all you only needed was snow pants, a warm coat, a hat and gloves. The most fun part for me? Getting sized for new skis.
You’d think it would be all about the boots, and you’d have to carry around one of those metal sizers in your pocket, but, for cross-country skis, you simply had to raise your hand. The tip of the ski needed to touch the middle of your open palm. As each winter passed, this replaced the tick marks on my bedroom door frame to indicate that I was, in fact, getting taller. And as the runt in a family full of Amazons, this was a source of pride for me, and made having to get bundled up and strapped into ski boots totally worth it.
Strap on YOUR cross-country skis this weekend and participate in the Virtual Canadian Birkie events. And if skiing is not your winter forte, you can still take part by cycling (fat bike, anyone?), running, ice skating, snowshoeing or even walking. And if you want to try cross-county skiing without the commitment of buying your own set, visit Snow Valley or Strathcona Wilderness Centre for rentals.
Register for your chance to win amazing prizes and discounts with local businesses but HURRY! Registration ends at noon tomorrow (February 19!).
Upload your results by 6 p.m. on February 28 to see how you rank against other participants around the world because, you know, bragging rights are also totally worth it.