The Urban Ski Movement

| 1/23/2009 3:05:32 PM

Tags: skiiing, outdoors,

A snowy environment perfect for urban skiing

Not urban skiing exactly. ... I don’t live in “urbania”, or suburbia either. But I do live in town, and don’t have the luxury of having wooded acreage or farmland outside my back door. If I did, I’d be out there cross-country skiing whenever I had the chance.

Skiing is my thing; my greatest moments of bliss in the outdoors come from cross-country. I do it all year ’round; traditional cross-country skis in winter, and roller-skis (essentially cross-country skis on wheels), the rest of the year. I don’t always have the time though, to pack up the equipment, drive to one of my favorite spots, do my thing, then pack up and drive home. That’s when I take to the streets and head through the neighborhoods, downtown, or to the beach for a bit of urban skiing. With driving conditions being as bad as they had been the past couple of weeks, the urban ski conditions have been great.

A woman unburying her car from the most recent snowfall told me, “Now, that’s the perfect transportation for this kind of weather. ... Too bad you can’t carry groceries home on skis though.” I’m sure that’s where she was headed; she had that desperate “it’s snowing; I need milk and bread!” look in her eyes. I’ve thought about skiing to the grocery store, but the groceries I buy for the week would need an entire sled dog team to haul home, instead of one mere woman on skis. Whatever fits in a backpack though, I’ve carried – DVDs from the video store, books from the library, cookies from the bakery and a gallon of milk from the convenience mart to go with them. Once, I took canned goods to a friend who was preparing baskets for the food pantry at Christmas time. She is the one who coined the term “urban skiing.” Laughing, she said I should lead Urban Ski Expeditions through town for the tourists during the off-season.

She’s not alone in thinking skiing down the sidewalks and streets seems a bit odd. “Mommy! Mommy! There’s that lady coming down the sidewalk on skis again!” “Don’t look, Dear,” I imagine her mother said as I skied by, “she’ll be gone in a minute.” And there are the strange looks I receive “parking” my skis outside the video store and library. You’d think they never saw a person on skis before.

But I don’t think it’s that odd at all. People bike, roller-blade, skate-board and go for strolls down the sidewalk. What is so different about skiing down them? Of course, there is that warning painted on the sidewalks in the shopping district of downtown proper: No Skateboards, Roller blades, or Bicycles on Sidewalks. It says nothing about skis though. Even if it did, the warning is covered by snow, so I could always claim ignorance if I were pulled over for being in violation of it.

Cindy Murphy
1/28/2009 8:47:16 AM

I'd never heard of roller skis either, Robyn, until a friend of mine in Colorado mentioned them to me about four years ago. The sport is quite popular out there, but was virtually, (and still is), unheard of here. I tried every sporting goods store in West Michigan, until I finally found them in a ski shop way up north. After describing the types of terrain I'd be using them on, they fitted me over the phone, and Fed-Exed them to me the next day. They are the best purchase-on-a-whim, sight-unseen investment I've ever made - not only for fitness, but for pure fun. I can't calculate how many hundreds of miles I've logged in, or how many different places I've taken them. Check it out: Mine are the V2 Aero XL150SC model - not pictured, but the XL150S's are similar, and from the description of your terrain, would probably be the best choice out there. The SC's are for both skate and classic skiing. I also don't have the brakes or speed-reducers pictured either; trying to trim the cost, I opted out of both, and honestly haven't missed them. Steep hills or sharped curved hills are impossible without them though; "snow-plowing" can't be done on roller skis. And you're right - they are a riot. If I receive strange looks Urban Skiing, the looks and conversations I've had while roller-skiing usually involve jaw-dropping stares.

Robyn Dolan
1/28/2009 7:22:58 AM

Oooo. Never hear of roller skis. Will have to check that one out. We're actually at 5800 feet here, lots of cinders and mud, high desert, low mountains. Not alot of sand. Pneumatic wheels on skis. Hmm...sounds like a riot.

Cindy Murphy
1/26/2009 6:16:48 PM

Two words for you, Robyn: Roller Skis. No snow needed - depending on the model almost any surface will do; mine have all-terrain pneumatic wheels that work great on pavement, gravel, dirt, mulched paths, and grass. Oops, but not sand - I was told that when I bought them, but I just had to give it a try and attempt the beach once. Nope - the guy was right; roller skis do not work in sand, (or on ice either, as I've found the hard way too). I have this perhaps misguided vision of where you live being all sand, but would imagine the road are more gravelly? You'd get in a good glide on that. However you do it - even by driving to Flagstaff, I hope you get to enjoy some x-country soon!

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