Nature Published on 22/02/2022
There is no lack of books “for dummies” – those black and yellow books! Today, we are not offering a book for dummies but an article for cross-country beginners like Brenda and me! We’ll give you our impressions and advice! Come on, let’s go!
Perfect day to try out cross-country skiing!
A great opportunity has come up early this year: to try Nordic skiing at La Vattay. The cross-country ski area of La Vattay, for those who don’t know, is one of the largest and most prestigious cross-country ski areas in France with its 150 kilometres of runs. Here we are at 9am at the car park of La Vattay, with the sun shining down on us, to start the adventure! And what an adventure! The car park is almost empty at this hour.
Tip: come as early as possible to get the closest parking space to the Nordic area primary entrance and to be alone or almost alone in the middle of the spruce trees.
Off to the rental shop, La Vattay Sports, to be equipped with boots, skis and poles.
Tip: to be comfortable in your shoes, you should wear one size above yours. At the shop, tell them your usual size, they will get you the next size up 😉
Fear is getting the better of me, at least for me. I must admit, I’ve never been on skis before… Okay, but the urge to try is stronger than the fear! For now, at least. We are off!
As we could not wait to begin, we forgot to check the time! Indeed, we are a bit too early! That’s what we are all about, being impatient! While waiting, we are trying to feel at ease with our skis – well, mostly for me – before we begin the initiation.
Brenda will be in the intermediate skating group. She is more used to the mountains than I, and I’ll be in the beginner’s group. Read on to hear about our own experiences. We hope that it will get you as excited as we were. Enjoy your reading 😍
My experience on skis
A pretty rough start…
So off we go for a 1h30 initiation, or so we think 😉
We thus follow Alain Girod, our cross-country skiing instructor. The king of the domain here! Everybody knows him and everybody wants to learn with him. How lucky we are that he’ s here for this lesson. We shall be the envy of many. To be honest with you a second time, falling is my biggest fear. As I mentioned earlier, at 28 years old, I have never been on skis before! Alain reassures me quickly and tells me how to position myself. I am now ready to discover this winter sport.
We are deep in the forest; the scenery is magnificent. The fir trees and spruces are still covered with snow from the recent falls and it’s a sunny, cloudless. We are in paradise… Who could ask for more? Then comes the drama! Up ahead, a downhill, a steep slope with a curve. Oh dear, what am I doing here? Alain shows me how to do it and I am a little reassured. So, I launch myself and… No surprise, I fall. This was bound to happen. But, as you can see, it wasn’t so bad. The instructor shows me how to get up and in two minutes I’m back on my feet ready to go again.
But an everlasting memory!
Our tour continues together with our small, very cohesive, and friendly group. For most of us, this is a first. We feel less alone… When we get to the plateau, it’s about 11 o’clock. The sky is blue, and the vast snowy expanse is as far as the eye can see. This is one breathtaking view! I manage a third descent without falling! I can’t tell you how proud I am!
During our tour, Alain Girod gives us some advice! So, we are going forward slowly. On our way back, we are getting a bit tired. We have been on the slopes for 2 hours already. And it is always at this stage that we fall a lot. I fell 5 times, always on the downhill. I was a bit tired of it but when we reached the starting point, I felt a new sensation… pride. Yes, I was proud to have overcome my fear of the unknown and the misconceptions I had about this sport and proud to have managed to do the loop like everyone else.
Is the saying true? “He who tries nothing, has nothing! “
A smooth start
Here I am with my equipment in hand and ski pass in my pocket, heading for the Nordic ski slopes! Not quite … how do you fasten cross-country skis? I realise that putting them on is not an easy task when you’ re used to big alpine ski boots and bindings! Luckily, with my friend Anne Marie’s explanations, who was probably born with skis on her feet, it is immediately easier!
I decided to try skating for this introductory lesson, as I find it so elegant. While waiting for our instructor, we gingerly move forward on the beginners’ slope, feeling a bit shy at first, but after some back and forth, we get bolder. Here we are, all set for the adventure! Good timing, as our instructor for the day is none other than Laurent Thévenard, the father of Xavier Thévenard, the famous ultra-trail world champion. For now, it is not yet time for adventure but for learning.
Skater’s step, leg bending, pole planting, moving forward, we learn little by little the language and the gestures of the perfect skater. Now it’ s time to get down to business! Some of my friends have discovered a real passion. As for me, things are a bit stiffer (!), but soon I let myself be carried away by my sensations and the efforts start to pay off! But as soon as I really let go, I fall! A bit of focus doesn’t hurt.
After about one hour of practice, we head out onto the forest trails. Between two pushes, I am amazed by the beauty of nature: the combination of snow, forest and nature has always been one of my favourite landscapes. Yet I feel my muscles (some of them unknown to me until then!) crying out it’s time to stop. I am still struggling a bit because the panorama awaiting me at 100 metres is so sublime that I cannot resist!
Up ahead, the snowcapped plateau stretches out, the Dôle in the background and the spruce trees rising to the sky. The ideal occasion for a photo break … or rather photoS! After this oxygen stop, getting back is a piece of cake, and my last moments of skating are pure pleasure. After some uphill runs on the way out, the return is mostly downhill, which makes my muscles happy!
“Beauty & Hunger”!
It’ s over. We thank our one-day instructor and give back our equipment. Yet, we fancy staying longer and are getting hungry. But we forgot to pack a picnic! Luckily, this winter the restaurant-bar La Vattay offers daily snacks, crepes, drinks, and hot meals to take away. We thus conclude our initiation with a warm dish in the sunshine and fresh air.
“Nothing but delight! So, who’s next?!”
Before leaving you, here are our faces during our apprenticeship! We don’t look quite so traumatised, do we! Let’s hope that our adventures have inspired you to try out activities that you’ re not familiar with yet! no need to say that we have no regrets at all!
We are looking forward to seeing you soon, and, who knows, perhaps for other adventures in the Pays de Gex and its Monts Jura resort”