A Little Seasonal Relief
Date: Tue, 10 May 94 13:08:34 PDT
Subject: A Little Seasonal Relief
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (Henry Cate)
To Cross-Country Skiers, Grunvaarstooklas Says It All
by Colin McEnroe who writes for the Harford, CT
Having taken up cross-country skiing a full month ago, I am now
one of the leading authorities on the subject and recently skied nearly 18
yards without falling over - an incredible feat for a novice when you
consider that the world record is - what? - 23, 24 yards?
Anyway, I believe that record was set by a Norwegian, and those
guys are practically born on skis.
Although crude drawings of primitive northern Asiatic peoples show
them practicing a sport in which live weasels were strapped to their feet,
cross-country skiing as we know it evolved in northern Scandinavia and
Greenland, two environments ideally suited to the sport because there is
not one single other blessed thing to do there.
Even today, Scandinavians frequently congregate by the thousands
for great cross-country skiing festivals called "grunvaarstooklas," an
untranslatable word embracing the concepts "severe frostbite" and "a
withering of body parts."
If you are wondering whether cross-country skiing is something you
would like, take this short personality test.
1. My idea of a good time is:
a: Dinner and a movie.
b: Dynamiting a fish.
c: Crashing headlong through 3 inches of rock-hard snow crust
and coming to rest in sub-arctic powder with my face mashed up against a dead lemming.
2. The problem with most winter sports is that:
a: They are controlled by Martians.
b: I am controlled by Martians.
c: They are not cold and frightening enough.
3. When I die, I want to:
a: Go quick.
b: Take Andy Rooney with me.
c: Be impaled on a fiberglass ski pole.
If you answered "c" to all three questions, you should either take
up cross-country skiing or see if John Hinckley needs a roommate.
One frequently asked question is: How many scorpions are molten
in the dungarees? But that question is asked by people who are not making
sense and are not the least bit concerned with cross-country skiing.
A more relevant question has to do with selecting the right size ski.
The way to measure is to stand flatfooted in the store and hold your arms
straight over your head. This will allow the store personnel to extract
your wallet and remove such money as they need.
You are almost ready to begin, but first you must wax your skis.
Dedicated cross-country skiers generally arise at 6 a.m. and begin waxing
so they will have the shank of the late afternoon for actual skiing.
There are about 11 different kinds of wax, each suited for a
certain type of snow. To aid you in choosing a wax, there are incomprehensible
charts, loosely translated from Finnish. Example: "Snow is clumping vhen
you strike it mit penguin bone, ja? Blue vax is best."
The key to good skiing techniques is to treat the skis as extensions
of your feet, so that skiing is just like walking would be if you had
7-foot-long mutant unbreakable toenails.
Then it's simply a matter of getting into the rhythm: step, push,
glide, fall, scream, grovel, get up. Step, push, glide...(Note: Generally,
it's a good idea to start your scream before you actually crash to the
ground because ice crystals frequently embed themselves in your respiratory
system and make screaming difficult.)
Cross-country skiing is a great way to burn up calories. Just gettin
up from one fall can frequently burn up the equivalent of a butt steak
drenched in mushroom gravy, particularly if one of your skis is trapped under,
simultaneously, your other ski, a frozen tree root and a disabled snowmobile.
Fear stimulates the metabolism, too, so figure an extra 1,000 calories
for every vicious wild animal that comes sniffing around you while you are
in this helpless state.
Certainly the ultimate satisfaction for every cross-country skier is
that moment when he struggles back to his feet and realizes that the other
skiers have gone on without him and that he is alone, in the woods, miles
from civilization, strapped to equipment he does not understand, with little
giblets of refrozen snow adhering to every inch of his body.
If that's not "grunvaarstooklas," I'd like to know what is.
© 1994 Peter Langston