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Festival teaches Nordic newbies how to ski

Published On: Jan 30 2013 01:18:31 PM MST   Updated On: Jan 07 2013 02:37:17 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

"I've always wanted to try it, watch people do it all the time" said Shawn McCarthy, about cross country skiing.

McCarthy and friend Jaimi Boyd wanted to try a new winter sport, so they went to Bohart Ranch's Skinny Ski Festival on Sunday to learn how to Nordic ski- along with hundreds of others.

"I need some more activity during the winter time" said Sheryl Goff, who's almost completely new to any sort of skiing.

Couple Erin and Jake Neil love to cross country ski, but never tried skate skiing. "We wanted to get into skate skiing just to try something new" Erin said.

The festival aimed to attract newcomers to the sport, and teach them proper techniques.

The Montana Import Group sponsored the yearly event, which offers passes and rentals at $5 each, and free lessons. 

"Remember, good body position" said instructor Kat Hickman, demonstrating a cross country stance as a group huddled around her. "You're going to have bent ankles, flexed forward."

Hickman is the Bohart Ski School Coordinator, and said nearly 300 people attended.

The festival offered lessons on both ways to hit the trails- classic Nordic skiing, and the aforementioned skate skiing.

"The classic skiing is more the traditional kind of skiing, and skate skiing is when you're in more of a V-shape" she said, adding that skate skiers make more of an ice skating motion whereas classic skiers glide straight forward.

Hickman said it's quite different than alpine skiing.

"You're not in big beefy boots" she said. "You're not in a big ski with metal edges, and our terrain is very different." 

With a good lesson, picking up the sport isn't too hard, she said, even for the greenest.

I decided to give cross country a try for myself. So I geared up, and got some pointers from Theresa, my Bohart instructor.

"Before anyone takes off, what is one of the most important things they need to know?" I asked her.

Theresa answered "before people start actually skiing on their skis, the fist thing we teach them is how to safely fall down."

Everyone falls a few times, Theresa said, so it's important to know how to do it without getting hurt. And she said it's important to know how to get up, otherwise skiers get stuck on the ground.

After the quick lesson, I was off, gliding on the groomed track.

Some beginners said stopping and falling are the hardest parts.

Olivia Kleinsasser, who came to the festival with her whole family, said she fell several times. "I didn't know how to get up" she said.

But, with a lesson under her belt, she's ready for the trails.

"It's a better workout" than downhill skiing, Olivia said. Her sister, Eliza echoed "yeah, it's good exercise."

"It's hard" said Erin Neil. "It's great, it's really hard" said her husband Jake. "It's way faster, but lots of fun."

Boyd said she once tried alpine skiing and wasn't a fan, but after trying Nordic skiing, her and McCarthy were ready to buy gear. "I want to take another lesson and just get super confident" Boyd said. "I definitely think this will be a good sport."