Q: The youngest members of our family got some cross-country skis for Christmas and I was wondering if you could recommend a good place to practice before we head out and do some “real” trails with them. The flatter the better!
Mama Ski Bunny
A: Thanks for your letter Mama Bunny! My family is also fairly new at cross-country skiing. It’s a great sport for families. Not only does it give us something active to do during the long winter (at least it feels long to me!) but once you have all the equipment it’s pretty cheap to just pick up and go somewhere.
We’re very lucky to be so close to some great trails in the Gatineau hills too, but you’re not quite there yet. A bit of practice and you will be ready in no time.
The best thing to do if you’re not paying for lessons is to bring the kids over to your neighborhood park, strap on those skis, and get the kids used to the feeling of the skis on the snow. Once this starts to get boring, it’s time to kick it up a notch.
There are a couple of other places that would be perfect for newbies to try out new cross-country skis:
- Many parents have already discovered the small hill behind Dovercourt Recreation Centre. Although the front of the hill tends to get taken over by small sledders (which makes it too slippery for new skiers) the sides of the hill can provide a nice gradual slope to practice the cross-country climb and descent, especially after a fresh snowfall. It’s great for trying out new snowboards too.
- The bike paths down near Westboro Beach turn into informal ski paths in the winter. Park in the lot off the parkway or on Lanark and walk down to the beach area. It’s a whole different place in the winter! The best thing is that you’re not tied to a loop or a long route, which is ideal for new skiers. Just head out in one direction and turn around when you start to get tired.
Good luck, and have fun!
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