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Jessi Loerch | jloerch@heraldnet.com
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014, 10:06 a.m.

Skiing with guns: Trip livened up by biathlon race

  • A participant in the biathlon at Stevens Pass fires at the target on Saturday.

    Jessi Loerch / The Herald

    A participant in the biathlon at Stevens Pass fires at the target on Saturday.

  • A biathlon racer skis the course on Saturday.

    Jessi Loerch / The Herald

    A biathlon racer skis the course on Saturday.

  • Biathlon racers compete at Stevens Pass nordic ski area on Saturday.

    Jessi Loerch / The Herald

    Biathlon racers compete at Stevens Pass nordic ski area on Saturday.

  • The sun was brilliant at Stevens Pass over the weekend.

    Jessi Loerch / The Herald

    The sun was brilliant at Stevens Pass over the weekend.

  • The sun shines on the Stevens Pass nordic ski area on Saturday.

    Jessi Loerch / The Herald

    The sun shines on the Stevens Pass nordic ski area on Saturday.

"Why don't you demonstrate for me?"

My skiing instructor was looking down at me. I was on the ground, again. He thought this would be a handy time to go over the proper way to get up while wearing cross-country skis.

And, since I was already down, I was the perfect test subject.

He walked me through the steps. I fell over again. I listened closer, and tried it again. This time, I rose smoothly, without a lot of flailing.

He then demonstrated "dead roach," a method of getting yourself situated when you fall and need to rearrange where your skis are.

Not shockingly, we all found this hilarious.

I went skiing with the Mountaineers cross-country ski course over the weekend. I'm learning how to ski again after about a decade away from the sport. My first day out, I really didn't fall that often. This time, though, I seemed to be making up for lost time. Or maybe it was that we were trying some more difficult maneuvers. Whatever it was, I am now very good at getting up smoothly.

We spent a good part of the morning working on technique. Then we stopped at the warming hut, a handy spot for lunch.

It also happened to be the center of the biathlon race that was going on that day. I was fascinated.

Skiers would fly down the track, guns slung on their back. Then they'd stop, center themselves, aim the gun and fire at the targets.

For the first time in my life, I had a strong desire to fire a gun.

After a leisurely lunch, and a long time watching the racers, we headed off to simply ski. We worked a bit on technique still, but mostly we skied. We headed up a long, slightly winding hill until we could see the backside of the Stevens Pass ski area. Then, we turned around and enjoyed a long, fun slide down the hill.

I love this. Years ago, I gave up downhill skiing. I had enjoyed it, but I never got the hang of skiing in Cascade concrete. I grew up skiing in Boise, where the snow is a lot lighter. So, I quit skiing.

Turns out, though, I missed going downhill. I just needed to do it on a different type of skis.

I love working hard to get to the top of a hill, and then getting the reward of flying back down.

We finished up our day, happy, at the parking lot. Another student pulled out his GPS. We'd gone 10.2 miles and gained 1,600 feet of elevation. I was shocked. And thrilled. It had not felt like 10 miles.

My baseline is hiking. And when you go downhill while hiking, it's faster. But when you go downhill while skiing, you get back in a fraction of the time. And the glide of skiing allows you to go farther, faster.

I could get into this whole skiing thing. I'm happy with anything that will get me cool (literally) places faster.

Story tags » Stevens PassSkiingOutdoors

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