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On The Tracks Of The World’S Best

We had our very first cross-country skiing lesson on the trails of the 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships. And we absolutely loved it.

In 2019, some of the world’s best cross-country skiers will compete for the World Championship here in Wildmoos, close to Seefeld in Tyrol. After the Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976, and the World Championships in 1985, this is going to be the fifth major Nordic event Seefeld is hosting. So it’s nothing new to them. Nevertheless, we thought it was a good opportunity to test and try the trails ourselves. This sounds like a very professional thing to do, but in fact, some of us have never stood on cross-country skis before. And what better place to start off? “The thing about cross-country skiing is that anyone can do it. You can start on a flat trail and just go at your own pace,“ Peter explains. And he must know. After all, Peter has worked as a skiing and cross-country skiing instructor in his native Seefeld for many years.

In the 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships, the cross-country trails of Wildmoos will be part of the 25 km and 50 km races. The trail starts in Seefeld and goes up to Wildmoos, then down to Leutasch, and back up again to Seefeld. Considering our level of skills (and to leave some room for improvement), we will keep it to a couple of rounds here in Wildmoos for now. By the way, cross-country skiing is considered one of the healthiest sports in the world. It benefits the heart, the cardiovascular system and the lungs, and it is a great strength workout. Plus: it improves your coordination and balance.

We definitely agree with the latter: standing on cross-country skis for the first time we feel a bit shaky, as if walking on eggshells. Compared to their alpine counterparts, the thin cross-country skis require a whole lot more balance. What makes it even more difficult is that the boots are connected to the skis only at the toes. Moving our first metres forward our strides look like clumsy steps rather than smooth gliding. But surprisingly, we improve pretty quickly with the help of our experienced instructor Peter, and even our poling technique gets better with each stride. Our coach is happy with our progress: “Good job. I have actually seen much worse.“ The fact that we don’t know how to stop or slow down isn’t really concerning at this point, considering our relatively low pace and the flat ground. And going slow has a beautiful side benefit: We have time to enjoy the scenery. Wildmoos looks absolutely stunning today.

The landscape is covered in a blanket of snow, the sun is shining, and the mountains provide the perfect backdrop. It goes without saying that learning cross–country skiing in this scenery is extra special. The freshly groomed trails are playing an equally important role: “The infrastructure they create prior to the World Championships is extraordinary. And the best part is that not only the athletes benefit, but we all do, because we can all use it,“ Peter explains. Whether it’s beginners, more advanced skiers or pros: everybody gets what they are looking for. There are more than 250 km of perfectly groomed trails here in Seefeld. Numerous cross-country national teams come here each year to practice.

The national team is still a long way to go for us. However, we have now started our second round and have even upped our pace a little bit. And we learned how to stop. It’s not that difficult after all. You just put one foot out of the track and put it in snow-plough position, similar to what you would do with normal skis. The virtually non-existing edges make it a bit more difficult with cross-country skis, but it works.

We show our breaking skills one last time and reach our starting point. Luckily, it is right next to the Wildmoosalm. In addition to its lovely sunny terrace the famous restaurant has a great menu to offer. Mind you, we have burnt quite a few calories today.

FIS NORDIC SKI CHAMPIONSSHIPS 2019

Text: Matthias Köb // friendship.is
Photos: Ian Ehm // friendship.is

Dec. 4, 2018

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