15 Dec Patience is just a ski away
I bought cross country skis in Norway today. Not rented, but bought. I will take them home with me once I’ve broken them in here–the birthplace of nordic skiing. A place that seems to be outlined with tracks–alongside the roads, the city parks, the sidewalks, the fjords… trails are everywhere.
For $250 including bindings, I walked out of the store with the skis slung over my shoulder feeling like I became a member of an ancient Norwegian club. Yea, I’m one of you now. Maybe I should have cut my thumb and rubbed blood with the teenager that sold me the skis, but that’s just not sanitary these days.
Instead, I had the best guide a person could want: Bjornar. For as long as I’ve known this viking, I mean man, through hiking in Scotland, biking up a 2,000 meter mountain in Croatia and riding across Sardinia, I was always curious, yet frightened, about skiing with him one day. He’s been skiing since he was old enough to stand. So, it was with a bit of trepidation, anxiety and excitement, that we set out at 4pm, just as the light was going down and the snow, finally, began to fall in giant blobs. It couldn’t have been timed better. I couldn’t wait to begin gliding.
After Bjornar spent over an hour waxing my skis–using a specialized ski iron to smooth out the wax–we threw the skis into the truck and heading back out to Bymarka Park. Snow was falling slanted under the yellow glowing trail lamps. I slid into my new skis: Toe in. Snap and snap. Lurching forward, all my weight on my right thigh, the ski stopped abruptly. Then, the same happened on the other leg.
Ahead, Bjornar wasn’t moving much faster. “I think I used the wrong wax.” This meant the snow was clumping on the centre of our skis–we might as well been walking. After scraping the bottoms on top of the other ski, we’d be able to get a few strides in before slowing then completely stopping. Cement blocks on our feet. I felt like screaming. Glide, glide, stop. This went on for a bit. “Try to enjoy the view,” said Bjornar, looking back at me. “The view, really? I came to ski!” I couldn’t help it; I had no patience and I couldn’t hide it.
Then, stopping to scrape off more wax and snow from the bottom, my right boot came out and wouldn’t go back in. Bjornar took off his skis, knelt down and cleaned off the bottom of my boot and tried clicking the boot back in. “Ahh there.” Minutes later it came out. “Fuck!” I yelled. “Bjornar!” I was ready to cry. I built this moment up so much in my head for the past few months and here I was–stunted. Unable to move. Eventually the boot clicked and we began to move, if you can call it that– other skiers zipped past. I wanted to trip them. Near the end of the 5km, gliding became somewhat easier, but it wasn’t skiing. “We will return tomorrow and have the right wax. It will be much better.”
It certainly will. Throwing my skis back into the truck, I looked out under the trail lamp, as the snow collected on my nose. Wow, how did I become so impatient? Slow down, Chambers. The view is unreal and I haven’t experience a snow fall like this since I was a kid.