Cross-Country Skiing in Switzerland Precarious for a Flatlander from the Snow Belt

If you grow up in Switzerland, skiing is a birthright. Like riding a bike, no one forgets how to do it. Forget the thrill of school closing for inclement weather. Here we have the ultimate snow day! We even bus kindergarteners up in the mountains for skiing during regular school days and better yet have a ski week vacation in February.

cross-country skiing in the mountains

cross-country skiing in the mountains

No one here can believe I don’t ski even though I grew up in the Snow Belt.

Maybe if I learned to ski when I was a child, I wouldn’t be so afraid. Where I grew up in the flatlands of Illinois, only the wealthy could afford to fly halfway across the continent to the nearest mountain.

Besides, no American coach in his or her right mind, would ever condone skiing for a star hoopster. A teammate and I broke training one season and attempted to ski on a golf course on campus where the highest elevation was a two-foot bunny hill on the back nine. Heck, I still fell down.

I am not afraid of heights, but I am downright speed phobic. Anytime the velocity picks up, I envision my previous accidents, flying over my bicycle handlebars on a hill in Germany or careening out the window of an air born car off an autoroute in France.

I still might enjoy skiing if my back never cracked, my knees could bend or I had a solid base to stand on. Just try balancing on a two inch by 6 foot slabs with bad feet. With my high arches and ankle pronation, I might remain upright if I skied barefoot and hung on by my claw toes. Strong thigh muscles, able to hold the squat position also help, but I lost those when I quit doing defensive slides back in the seventies.

Ah the great irony of life! In youth, when I was nowhere near a mountain, my greatest dream was to alpine ski; now in middle age I live at the foot of the Alps yet break out in hives just looking at the slopes. However to appease Le Frenchman, an avid skier extraordinaire, I don my skis once a winter. But in the mountains, cross-country skiing is a misnomer. It should be called up and down skiing and the only thing worse than sailing 25 miles an hour on sticks, is flailing at top speed downward on a curve!

Oups !!!

Oups !!!

Luckily on groomed trails in the mountains, they strategically prop bright red, two-inch thick, gym mats against trees at the bottom of curving slopes.

Hey, I learned to drive in Illinois, I am no dummy. As soon as I see the red warning sign in the distance, I stop, remove skis and proceed with caution.  Then I put away my gear for another year.

Posted in education, humor, inspiration, sport, travel.

24 Comments

  1. Pat,
    I love getting your posts! I feel like you’ve joined me at my kitchen table to share another delightful, entertaining story that leaves me smiling~ “Do you take cream in your coffee?” 🙂
    I certainly can relate to your longings to ski. I spent much of my young adulthood on the slopes in NY,Vt,NH downhill skiing then later cross-country skiing in NY. My last downhill skiing(insane) venture was chaperoning with another mother, sixteen 16 year-olds on a bus trip from Kansas City,MO to Cooper Mt and Keystone in Colorado in 1989. The skiing was fabulous but I never went downhill skiing again. Now I settle for winter walks in the woods and making snowmen with my grandsons!

    • Thanks Kath. If I ever become competent at this social media stuff, maybe one day we can share a cyber coffee. I am astounded by the number of places you have lived and looking forward to reading all about them in your memoir. How is coming along?

  2. Pat,
    I love getting your posts! I feel like you’ve joined me at my kitchen table to share another delightful, entertaining story that leaves me smiling~ “Do you take cream in your coffee?” 🙂
    I certainly can relate to your longings to ski. I spent much of my young adulthood on the slopes in NY,Vt,NH downhill skiing then later cross-country skiing in NY. My last downhill skiing(insane) venture was chaperoning with another mother, sixteen 16 year-olds on a bus trip from Kansas City,MO to Cooper Mt and Keystone in Colorado in 1989. The skiing was fabulous but I never went downhill skiing again. Now I settle for winter walks in the woods and making snowmen with my grandsons!

    • Thanks Kath. If I ever become competent at this social media stuff, maybe one day we can share a cyber coffee. I am astounded by the number of places you have lived and looking forward to reading all about them in your memoir. How is coming along?

  3. I can relate to your feelings. I have never been successful at downhill skiing. I like cross country skiing, but only on flat land.

    • Oh yes, Crete…I love the Flatlands especially for skiing. I think even Sinissippi Park would be too daunting for me. Have you had enough snow to ski this winter?

  4. I can relate to your feelings. I have never been successful at downhill skiing. I like cross country skiing, but only on flat land.

    • Oh yes, Crete…I love the Flatlands especially for skiing. I think even Sinissippi Park would be too daunting for me. Have you had enough snow to ski this winter?

  5. I concur – the speed is scary! My attempts at downhill skiing left me unenamored — too hard, scary, and expensive for a flatlander. But I’ve been cross country skiing since the 70’s and try to get out whenever the snow accumlates enough in Nebraska. In fact, we’re just getting our first significant snowfall today, so off I go!

  6. “…careening out the window of an air born car off an autoroute in France.”

    Well, I could see how that would make you wary of high speeds.

    I’m not apt at anything that requires me to keep my balance, so I am one of those Dutchmen who can’t iceskate, it’s a disgrace.

  7. “…careening out the window of an air born car off an autoroute in France.”

    Well, I could see how that would make you wary of high speeds.

    I’m not apt at anything that requires me to keep my balance, so I am one of those Dutchmen who can’t iceskate, it’s a disgrace.

    • A Dutchman that can’t skate must be as rare as a Swiss man that can’t ski! Now skating that is something I loved do when I was growing up. I donned a pair of skates this past year too and though I am stiff and awkward, I can still stand on skates. What do you think is the most popular sport in Holland?

  8. I have never been on skils and did not realize that it’s all a matter of balance. My good friend Norma Wolens goes skiing in Eberley Park and other parks with friends. She does fall down occasionally in spite of being athleteic, but I just assumed she paid attention to something other than her feet. I find it hard to believe that you are shy about cdross country skiing because it’s not like going down steep hillls, which would be traumataic except for dedicated risk-takers. But you have convince me. It’s harder than it looks. Good for you for trying!

    • So glad you wrote because I entered your new email address and wasn’t sure if it would work right and you would still receive the blog. I am no longer shy about cross country skiing in the flat, straightaways of Illinois or Wisconsin. However, even what they call cross country skiing here is really more like downhill in my opinion because it is so up and down and around. But ever the good sport, I will be out there trying again next season!

  9. I have never been on skils and did not realize that it’s all a matter of balance. My good friend Norma Wolens goes skiing in Eberley Park and other parks with friends. She does fall down occasionally in spite of being athleteic, but I just assumed she paid attention to something other than her feet. I find it hard to believe that you are shy about cdross country skiing because it’s not like going down steep hillls, which would be traumataic except for dedicated risk-takers. But you have convince me. It’s harder than it looks. Good for you for trying!

    • So glad you wrote because I entered your new email address and wasn’t sure if it would work right and you would still receive the blog. I am no longer shy about cross country skiing in the flat, straightaways of Illinois or Wisconsin. However, even what they call cross country skiing here is really more like downhill in my opinion because it is so up and down and around. But ever the good sport, I will be out there trying again next season!

  10. Pat, I am so glad I have been able to share this adventure of cross-country skiing with you at least once. Remember it? We went up to Leukerbad for the hot baths and the ski trails at the top of the mountain. It was totally flat up there. I think that’s why we had such a good time! 🙂

  11. Pat, I am so glad I have been able to share this adventure of cross-country skiing with you at least once. Remember it? We went up to Leukerbad for the hot baths and the ski trails at the top of the mountain. It was totally flat up there. I think that’s why we had such a good time! 🙂

  12. Hi Pat,
    I can appreciate the fact that you’re able to get out and be a part of that magnificance! Athlete forever:)

    Blessings,
    Clara.

  13. Hi Pat,
    I can appreciate the fact that you’re able to get out and be a part of that magnificance! Athlete forever:)

    Blessings,
    Clara.

  14. I so identify. I tried skiing but never did it enough to overcome the fear. Glad my hubby no longer feels the need to hit the slopes, so I’m off the hook!

  15. I so identify. I tried skiing but never did it enough to overcome the fear. Glad my hubby no longer feels the need to hit the slopes, so I’m off the hook!

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