Acceptancy. It’s hard for any Winnipegger. You can tell when it comes to skiing. Despite lacking anything that could reasonably be called a hill, people try to make downhill skiing a thing. Winnipeg is a flat city. The only hills we have are made from our own garbage. If we want a rolling hills landscape we’re going to need to step our trash game up. In the meantime it’s better to accept Winnipeg for what it is. A municipal pancake. In the absence of hills, cross country skiing is a fun activity and an even better workout.
Over the weekend we went to the Windsor Park Nordic Centre which is what the Windsor Park Golf Course moonlights as in the winter. The Nordic Centre is a busy place and has two colour-coded courses: green (least difficult) and blue (more difficult). Unafraid of a challenge we chose the blue route which was very fun once I abandoned every last shred of dignity.
I grew up in a skiing family. My dad used to strap me onto his back when I was a baby and we had trails directly behind our house growing up. Against all odds, I’m still a terrible skier. In grade 8 gym I fell so far behind the class that I missed a French test in the next period. Madame White was not impressed. Back at the Nordic Centre I was having flashbacks to that grade 8 ski as every other skier glided by effortlessly, barely visible through my fogged up glasses as I shuffled, panting, down the trail hoping muscle memory would kick in. Did I mention that nordic skiing is a great workout?
The chance to see wildlife is another great aspect of cross country skiing. We took the Dog Tooth loop off the blue route and a gorgeous doe ran out of the bush ahead of us. This proved to be too much for me and I promptly fell onto my side, crossing my skis and losing a pole as I went down. I found out later, as I was flailing around like a drunken baby giraffe, that two more does ran out from the same place. My skiing partner didn’t want to “ruin my concentration,” clearly afraid for my own safety as well as his. We made our way back to the centre, falling only a couple more times where I admired a big blue prairie sky while I lay spreadeagled on the ground trying to get my breath back. And it was worth it.
The Windsor Park Nordic Centre is open 7 days a week including some evenings for those who like nighttime skiing. Rentals and lessons are available, and the staff is delightful.
Bonus picture of my dad and me hitting the trails circa 1987