Winter in Saskatoon seems dreary at times, but if you take up a winter hobby, it may not be so unbearable. Skiing is a fun outside activity that also allows you to get in some exercise.
This is a guide for students who are interested in skiing but do not know how to get started. We will cover both crosscountry and downhill skiing for the absolute beginner. Skiing is fairly accessible in Saskatoon, as there are plenty of trails around the city to use for free and a number of places to rent ski equipment.
For both cross-country and downhill skiing, you will need ski boots, poles and skis — which will either be waxless or waxable, in cross-country’s case. If you are just starting out, it is best to rent equipment until you are sure you will go skiing enough to make it worth investing in your own. For cross-country skiing, a beginner should rent classic-style equipment rather than skate-skiing equipment.
Once you put on your equipment, make sure that you are standing with the correct posture. Your knees should be bent to avoid falling backward, and you should be leaning slightly forward and holding onto your ski poles for balance, with your hands through your pole straps.
For cross-country skiing, all you need to do is push forward in the tracks with your back foot and use your ski poles to help you gain momentum by planting the poles in the ground and pushing out behind you in an alternating motion.
For downhill skiing, there is a lot more to consider. If you are an absolute beginner, you will need to take a class before going out on your own. These are available at all of the ski resorts around Saskatoon. Make sure you stick to the smallest hill until you get comfortable. It is dangerous to go down a more difficult hill if you are not ready.
To come to a stop, push the back ends of your skis outward so the toes of your skis move toward each other. The tips of the skis should not cross over each other, or you may fall. Do not angle the front ends of your skis outward, or you will end up in a painful split.
Cross-country skiing is the easiest type to access in Saskatoon, because there are free trails available at Kinsmen Park, Wildwood Golf Course, Holiday Park Golf Course, Meewasin Park, Diefenbaker Park and Forest Park.
For cross-country ski rentals, you can go to Eb’s Source for Adventure or Escape Sports to rent boots, skis and poles for $15 a day. They both offer waxless skis, so you will not have to worry about glide wax or grip wax — an adhesive that gives you traction on snow — unless you buy your own equipment.
There are two downhill-ski resorts within driving distance of Saskatoon. Table Mountain Regional Park is a little less than a two-hour drive away, and they offer $45 private lessons and $60 group lessons for two people, with an added $25 fee for each additional person. A full-day lift ticket costs $33, and equipment rentals are $22 a day. Altogether, your trip will likely cost over $100.
Another option for downhill skiing is the Kinsmen Ski and Snowboard Centre, located in Prince Albert. This is about an hour-and-a-half-long drive from Saskatoon, and their rates are $16 for a day pass, as well as $22 for equipment rentals, $34 for a private lesson and $45 for a two-person lesson. Altogether, this should cost you less than $75.
If you are a beginner who is looking to get outside for the winter, cross-country skiing is definitely the cheaper way to go. However, for a day of fun with your friends, going to a ski resort is a great way to get into downhill skiing. Whichever option you choose, stay safe, stay warm and have fun!
Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer
Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor