Another Sunday morning and another mad dash up to Huntly. I got up an hour earlier this week but still didn’t get the the ski centre until 10AM, where did the time go?
This week had to be the coldest I have ever seen it at Huntly, Sandy said her car was reading -15C in the car park. It was freezing. By the time I had walked to the ski centre my fingers were losing feeling despite having cross country ski gloves on. There had to be over 30cm of snow on the ground and it was sunny and utterly beautiful. The Deveron was freezing up and there was a weird mist lying over it, I assume that must have been frozen water droplets.
There was just time to take my daughter into the ski centre, get her kitted out and then out to the striding lanes for a warm up. I dragged on my skiing gear, putting on my thickest coat and dashed out to join the group I worked with last week. The first job was to cut some tracks for the kids to practice on. After 5 minutes I was regretting putting on such a thick coat!
It was good to see the kids looking more confident and composed this week than last. Some of them looked to have a better style than myself. Much fewer of the children were falling over this week, although I am amazed how easily small people get up when they put their mind to it. The aim of the group is to get them pushing further through with their poles (past their hips) and to encourage them to bend their legs and ankles more during striding. It’s not something that comes in five minutes, but as the older children demonstrate – practice makes perfect.
We also worked on getting a good movement in the poling arms by holding the ski poles at their point of balance and classicing. What we were looking for was the poles going backwards and forward in a straight line always pointing in the direction of travel. We got a lot of windmilling of ski poles instead. After about 30 minutes we finished up with a bizarre exercise which involved groups of people linking up poles (straps round baskets) and pretending to be a steam train. I think the idea is to encourage you to keep your poles in a straight line, but by the time you get a train 6 children long the timing between poles and feet goes out totally.
I spotted my daughter further down the field falling over and lying in the snow, and felt a guilty pang but decided not to disturb things as it important to teach the children to get up by themselves. Paul encouraged her to pick herself up after a minute or two!
Back to the ski centre for a well deserved warm up and snack and then out again on a tour along the river, which was spectacular. The trees were black skeletons dusted with snow and huge ice crystals had grown on the dead plants from last summer. We then looped away from the river and across some fields. While ascending one bank skis had to be taken off but it was so cold that when the children tried to put their skis back on the bindings had frozen up. This is where the parent helpers come into their own, cutting down the time wasted doing the stupid tasks, such as scraping ice off bindings, that would really hold up a group if there was only one instructor. Also, it’s a big safety plus to have several pairs of eyes to spot any wayward children before they wander off.
Back to the ski centre for a quick warm up and then out onto the striding lanes for this week’s Olympic event, a 300m time trial. It was great to see the children whizzing around the track and introduced to ski racing.
Finally lunch and a chance to catch up with my daughter. I was relieved to see her still smiling and that she had had a good time. She’s making progress and not falling over so much.