I’ve always been a rather reluctant instructor. If you’ve been in a mountain bike or cyclocross clinic where I’ve instructed that might sound odd. Especially since I am always planning and participating in clinics. However, I generally feel like I’m not enough of an expert at anything to be teaching others. This has been especially true for skiing as I feel quite new to the sport. Part of that is probably that many/most of my training partners have been skiing for 20 years so I always feel like I’m the least experienced skier. Plus I’m not that fast (just average as I’m just a Wave 4 Birkie skier).
However, I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I might give ski instruction a try and attended a short training that the Madison Nordic Ski club held for potential instructors. That got me on the email list that the club uses to put out a call for instructors when they are providing free lessons. This last Saturday I finally heeded the call and said I would help out with the instruction at Mirror Lake. After agreeing I felt simultaneously excited and nervous. Would I seem like I knew what I was talking about, would they notice my bad technique, would they develop my bad habits, would I be discovered as a skiing fraud once they found out I’d only done 3 Birkies?
Of course the answer is no. Both Dave and I were first time instructors (although as Wave 1 Birkie skier he seems so much more legit) and so we were assigned the beginning classic skiers. That was perfect for me as I have been working the last year really hard on my classic technique. At the very least I know what a person should be doing even if I have trouble doing it myself. Of course no one thought either Dave or I wasn’t legit since pretty much everyone in our group was on skis for the first time.
It was a little bit of a tricky day to teach skiing as the snow was rapidly disappearing (it was 40 degrees) and the snow was sticky in the sun and crusty in the shade (with blades of grass and brown patches developing). However, I think everyone had fun and learned a little something. We did some shuffle drills, practiced moving our hips, indoctrinated them on double-poling, and practiced some basic striding. The area we had to work with was fairly flat but we did our best to simulate climbing and descending so they would be prepared when they headed out on their own. The goal was to practice more and talk less but I did end up talking a bit more than I hoped due to the lack of terrain.
Everyone seemed pretty enthusiastic and like they were having fun skiing so I considered it a successful day. It made me pretty psyched on skiing to be able to share what I’ve learned. Plus it was nice to be able to pay it forward. Way back in the day when I skied my first Kortoloppet I showed up at the free Madnorski ski lessons the weekend before the race because I wanted to learn how to ski up hills. They did what they could for me and it was very appreciated. Hopefully one of the people in my group catches the skiing fever like I did (it took me about 5 years but eventually I succumbed to the Birkie Fever!!).