At some point next month, you're going to find yourself sitting in front of your 62-inch Plasma HDTV with 1080p display and 600-Hz subfield motion, jaw agape as you watch the Nordic skiing events at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, marveling to yourself, "My goodness, these Lycra-clad Nordic skiers sure look mighty fluid and effortless as they glide over the snow on their cross-country skis. I wonder how I can learn to ski like that."
Wonder no more. Here in the Scandinavia of central Dane County, cross-country ski lessons are as abundant as icycles on the beard of a cross-country competitor at the 20-kilometer mark.
In conjunction with its Tuesday Night Race Series at Elver Park, the Madison Nordic Ski Club offers free one-hour lessons (conditions permitting) at 6 p.m. Tuesdays in January and February. Whether you're new to Nordic skiing or looking to improve your classic or skate-skiing skills, MNSC's instructors represent a brain trust for both techniques. While the lessons themselves cost nothing, you'll need to provide your own gear and purchase a city-county ski trail pass ($8/day, $26/season, valid at all groomed city and county trails). Classic cross-country ski rentals ($9 first hour for adults, $5 first hour for kids 14 and under, $5 additional hours) are available at the Elver Park shelter, and include a day pass. Prospective students who need to rent gear are advised to show up early to make arrangements. For planning purposes, students are also asked to contact lessons coordinator Jimmy Vandenbrook (firstname.lastname@example.org) with their name, ability level, whether they plan to be on classic or skate skis and when they plan to attend, so he knows how many instructors to recruit for the evening. For the latest updates on these lessons, MNSC recommends subscribing to its XC mailing list.
Conditions permitting, Madison School-Community Recreation offers classic-style cross-country ski lessons for families and youths at Odana Golf Course. Scheduled for 9 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23 or 30, the 90-minute family lesson costs $12 (beginners only). Youth instruction is available for kids in grades K-6, at 1 p.m. Saturdays in January ($18 for 90 minutes, open to all ability levels). Ski rentals and trail user fees for all MSCR cross-country ski classes cost extra. Private lessons in classic, skate or telemark skiing are also available for individuals or groups, beginner through advanced, by arrangement with MSCR (204-3025).
In partnership with Madison Nordic Ski Club, Middleton's Blackhawk Ski Club has a cross-country ski program that begins with instruction for kids in grades K-5, continues with programs that help middle-school and high-school youth develop proficiency in classic and skate ski techniques, and lead to its competitive Nordic ski teams. Blackhawk membership ($175/family) is required, with additional fees levied for some of its Nordic skiing programs and rental equipment. Blackhawk also has a biathlon program for youth and adults, in case you find yourself in front of your 62-inch plasma HDTV next month, marveling at the effortlessness with which the biathletes at the 2010 Vancouver Games glide across the snow on their Nordic skis, then pause, break out their air rifles, take aim, fire and ski on -- and wondering how you can learn to do that.