Ski Your Way to Winter Fitness
CV Nordic coach touches on local ski interest, offers tips for season
If there's one thing that's absolutely, positively true this season, it’s that interest in Nordic and cross country skiing this year is at an all-time high. Though this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged locals to get outside, interest in cross country skiing has been on the rise for the past several years, and no organization sees this quite like Chippewa Valley Nordic, which currently has 58 skiers registered for this season – an all-time high! We had the chance to catch up with Ted Theyerl, coach of Chippewa Valley Nordic and UW-Stout professor, on this year’s ski season.
Volume One: Can you touch on how level of interest in cross country skiing has increased in the past few years – and particularly this year?
Ted Theyerl: What I’ve witnessed in the past year is an increased and special interest in experiencing a lot of outdoor activities. With a lot of indoor activities restricted, being outside, able to physically distance and enjoy what the area has to offer has certainly encouraged people to explore opportunities to become or stay active. Cross country skiing wasn’t always on people’s radar screen as something to try. We have some great recreational trails and opportunities in the area, and likely the pandemic circumstances encouraged people to check out some outdoor options. With more people looking for activities to do during the pandemic, cross country skiing has certainly seen an increase in interest – very much like biking, running, walking, and a number of other outdoor sports.
What would you say is the cause of the increase in interest?
When you are restricted on indoor activities you normally spend time doing, it allows for more time and the opportunity to explore the outdoors. People also like to do things and be social – getting outdoors while distancing is a great option! Cross country skiers are able to ski with people that you can avoid close contact with, but can also enjoy together. (It’s) easy to physically distance while cross country skiing. The equipment and spacing required for skiing requires natural physical distancing. You just can’t ski that close to anyone, so makes for a great activity in the winter and we have some great County and City trails where people could give it a try.
What makes cross country skiing such a fun sport – particularly amid these weird times?
It’s always been fun for me. (I) started when I was 5 years old. Weird times or not, (it) provides an opportunity to explore some fantastic county forests and city trails in the area that people haven’t seen before. Get in touch or back in touch with nature, and experience what a great, beautiful area we live in. Also, (it’s) a great activity to do in the winter! Too many people despise the snow – cross county skiing is a way to get out and enjoy winter! (I’m) glad my family decided to test out cross country skiing when I was young. It’s provided an opportunity for my whole family now, I am Team Director for, and help coach the Chippewa Valley Nordic Ski team (58 skiers this season, up from 42 last year), and my sister (Tracey Cote) to have a full time position for 20 years as the head coach of the Colby College Nordic Ski Team in Maine.
Do you have any tips on Nordic / cross country skiing trails for beginners or ways to get started? Where are some of your favorite places to ski?
If one hasn’t been to Tower Ridge, (it’s) certainly a local place to check out. Northwest Park, Pinehurst Park, and the newly developed (this year) man-made snow trails at Silvermine Nordic (base of Silvermine ski jump) are worth trying. Hickory Ridge (Bloomer), and Hoffman Hills (Menomonie) are also great for experienced skiers. If you want to get started, the Eau Claire Ski Striders will be offering adult lessons this season Monday nights at Tower Ridge (once we get more snow!). Contact Michelle Urlaub ( email@example.com) for more information on adult cross country ski lessons.