Posted by: Phil DeLong | November 21, 2014

Skiing 101

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With winter now firmly rooted in the Northwoods (more than 30″ of snow has fallen this month, to date), the landscape has been transformed with a beauty unique to the season. To facilitate exploration of our Lowenwood campus, students this past week received instruction in cross-country skiing, as part of Field Instruction class. Student Talya, in this excerpt from her e-portfolio, shares her perspective of the lesson:

For a few glorious minutes, I glided over freshly groomed snow. Each ski pole felt like an extension of the opposite leg. Phil’s enthusiastically delivered lesson was finally beginning to make sense. Kick, glide, kick, glide. As the ski trail gradually began to slope downhill, I broke my pattern and catapulted myself forward. The wind rushed past the ear flaps of my hat, and my glasses grew foggy. I didn’t care, though. How could I, when I felt as if I were finally one with the ice and snow beneath me? I raced down the hill, then coasted to a stop and turned around. The exhilaration of flying down the trail was enough to propel me slowly but surely back up the hill. As I came to level ground, my confidence grew. I sped up more and more until my poles were no longer even close to moving with my skis. After a few minutes of saving myself from one fall after another, I catapulted into a snowdrift once and for all. I managed to extricate myself from the tangle of skis and poles and get back up in a matter of seconds, but after I returned to the heated classroom and the snow on my wool hat melted, my hat didn’t dry out for another several hours. Still, though, I was far too exhilarated—and relieved—to care.

Earlier that afternoon, I was sitting in the Field Instruction classroom as Phil demonstrated the finer points of the cross-country skiing stance. I was nervous, to say the least. As a coastal Californian, who lives in a town where schools sometimes close when it frosts, I’m a novice when it comes to pelting people with snowballs, let alone partaking in more complicated winter sports. I had only skied once before, but it was so long ago that I couldn’t remember anything about it. My sense of balance was still wonky after spraining my ankle, and I had trouble even carrying my skis out to the trail without hitting anyone in the face. But somewhere between Phil’s blizzard of puns, the regular field instructors’ perpetual cheer, and the fact that it only took me 2 tries to step into my skis, I began to feel comfortable in my skis. I am proud of myself for setting my perfectionism aside long enough to learn a new skill!

Because of my sprained ankle earlier in the semester, I thought I had missed my chance to explore the outer reaches of the Conserve campus while the ground was still blanketed in leaves and the bikes at the LRC were still ripe for the checking-out. Wading through snowbanks to the Sledding Hill or my phenology spot over the past few weeks would quickly sap what little energy I had after a busy school day. I had begun to lose hope that I would ever explore the Blue, Green, and Black trails as thoroughly as the Inner Loop, or that I would ever get to see Dollar and Inkpot lakes again after Solos. The winter wonderland of Field Instruction changed everything for me, putting the glide back in my step. Now that I have a new way of covering ground in the middle of winter, though, I am appreciating Lowenwood on another level entirely. I’ve not only learned a new winter activity, but I’ve learned more about the campus as well. Before that day, I hadn’t even known that the 3 main trails on the Conserve campus (Blue, Green, and Black) are named for their cross-country skiing difficulty levels, let alone how much work goes into keeping those trails and the Sledding Hill perfectly groomed. Skiing is taking me to new levels and new ground! I’m already making plans to go skiing with my advisor on weekend afternoons when I get back from Thanksgiving break, and I am all the more grateful for the opportunities Lowenwood provides for me to experience winter in all its glory.

My sincere thanks to Talya for sharing her reflections with us, and for taking the risks that set the stage for learning new skills. We’re excited for our students to use these skills to continue exploring Lowenwood. Happy Thanksgiving!

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support



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