After School on the AZT Goes Cross Country Skiing

Thirty inches of snow! Sitting at 8,000 feet, Arizona Nordic Village finally got plenty of snow to open for snowsports. Thirty inches from one storm! The accumulation was exciting, as it meant opportunities for snowshoeing and cross country skiing awaited usalas! After School on the AZT participants had been looking forward to this for weeks.

The storm was backed by continuous days of 45+ degree sunny weather, melting the snowpack at an impressive rate. But thankfully, we were able to get up to the Nordic Village before cross country skiing turned into cross country slushing!

On February 3, 2021, our group geared up to ski the Nordic Village’s groomed trails. For most kids, it was their first time cross country skiing.

We covered the basics in a mini ski school session at the practice meadow. After learning how to properly put on our skis and poles, we immediately practiced how to get up safely from a fallit’s not as straightforward as one might think! Without a little bit of extra intention, it’s easy to criss cross your skis or shift your weight in the wrong direction, making your efforts upwards way more of a stumble than the fall that brought you down in the first place. Equipt to gracefully brush off falls, we learned how to position ourselves, step-glide, stop, and exercise respectful trail etiquette. After several practice laps in the meadow and a game of Red Light, Green Light, we were ready to set out on the trails.

It was a lovely forest to ski through, thick with ponderosa pines and aspens, and we really couldn’t have asked for a nicer sunny day. It became quickly apparent that most of us were over-prepared for the weather; you really work up a sweat while cross country skiing! On the Babbitt and Prairie Dog Trails, we experimented with skiing inside and outside of the groomed tracks to see which was easier or more efficient. Some kids, curious how fast they could go, enjoyed speeding down a gradual hill. By the end of the trail, kids were laying in snow to cool off and unwind.

Those who had downhill skied before were surprised at how hard cross country skiing was. Since the terrain is relatively fat with cross country, they assumed it’d be kinda like walking. But classic skis are narrow and don’t have metal edges on them, making balance and control extra challenging. In any case, being humbled is good for us all sometimes!

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the Arizona Nordic Village for being so welcoming and accommodating for our group. They truly made everything smooth & easy for us. Our rental gear was super well-organized, already set out for us when we got there; and we were even welcome to visit on a day when they’re normally closed. We had an awesome time and appreciate everythingthank you!