Nordic skiing with tip-skins
We strongly recommend using tip-skins for all first time skiers, especially if conditions are fast and less forgiving. They are to skiing what training wheels are to a bicycle. You may only need them for a short time or may prefer to keep using them. They provide 30 percent more grip and less glide, providing more control.Ruth came through the door of the Breckenridge Nordic Center in tears. “That’s it, I just can’t ski anymore. I don’t feel safe because it’s too slippery.” Ruth, a 79-year-old grandmother of 12 from Cedar Rapids had been skiing with us for over three decades. She and her husband – who we called “the invisible man” – was such an avid alpine skier, we rarely saw him at the Nordic Center. With their extended family in the Midwest, they would keep an eye on the weather and pick the best times to make several two-week vacations to Breckenridge. Ruth had become a member of the Breckenridge Nordic family. She was so familiar with the operation that we gave her a name tag and she would frequently answer the phone when we were busy. Her time off trail was spent reading, or enjoying the soup of the day in our cozy lodge as she rested up for another loop of the her favorite trail “Troll Forest.” Two complete knee replacements did not stop her from enjoying her outings in the mountains. She and her husband chose Breckenridge after an extensive tour of the country’s western ski resorts. “You find a Nordic Center that you like, honey, and well buy our second home there” said her husband of 40 years. So they did, and we have enjoyed her visits. “Ruth’s here, we can start the season now” we’d announce, when she’d arrive for the first of her annual visits. Now what? Here she is, ready to stop Nordic skiing at 79 because she felt “out of control.” Trail conditions vary, even with the best grooming equipment available – especially in the spring when the temperature can fluctuate 50 degrees or more and you get freezing and thawing, and hence ice. Scott Yule, local endurance sports hero and Mark Thompson, had the answer for saving skiing for Ruth. Mark made up a couple pairs of what Scott had described as “tip skins.” The “tip-skin” that Mark made up for us consisted of a retired climbing skin cut to reach from the tip of the ski to the tip of the toe of the waxless kick zone of the ski. I went to the wax room and there were the tip skins Mark had given us the previous season. I placed them on Ruth’s favorite waxless cross county skis. Reluctantly, she returned to the tracks in front of the base lodge. I walked along side as she made a few timid strides. It seemed at this moment, a whole new era of Nordic ski instruction blossomed. She was astounded at the improved control she experienced, and it gave her a new of level of confidence. “You saved my sport for me, now I can ski my favorite trails and I never have to take my skis off.” Breckenridge is known for all types innovations in skiing. It was the first alpine area in the west to embrace Telemark skiing, free style skiing and snowboarding. Now Breckenridge Nordic Center can provide ski tip-skin skiing for those wanting to enjoy the Nordic ski trails, but need more control, and are more cautious. They are also ideal for the beginning Nordic skier.
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