Monday, 9 May 2016

The Finnish Passion for Cross Country Skiing

It seems strange to be posting about cross-country skiing now when it is May and almost 20 C outside. But I have been so busy this past year that I have not had time to blog. Where I live there is a lot of green space and nature paths. The Finnish winter is great for cross-country skiing as there is always so much snow. In the winter, when there is enough snow and it's cold long enough, the city plows tracks in the snow along the walking paths for cross country skiing. I can literally leave my house and step onto the ski trail and I love it! My first winter in Finland my husband taught me cross-country skiing and I fell in love with it. I sometimes joke with my friends that one day I will train to be the first person to represent Trinidad and Tobago in cross-country skiing in the winter Olympics. Lol! I enjoy the feeling of freedom and being part of the nature. It is a total body workout that is easy on the knees. Every winter after my first ski session I ache all over.

When the city makes the tracks it seems everyone comes out to ski. It's especially crowed on sunny winter days. I guess Finnish people find it strange to see a black woman cross-country skiing because other skiers always stare at me. Many times people even stop to talk to me and offer me skiing tips. It seems cross-country skiing is part of the Finnish fabric somewhere next to sauna. Children are taught to ski from an early age at school. I have seen first and second graders in groups, skiing down the tracks with their PE teachers. Cross-country skiing, or maastohiihto as it's called in Finnish, is not just a sport but a means of transport. My mother-in-law tells me stories of how she skied to school as a child. There was no school bus back in the days. When Trini grandparents talk of walking to school for miles, Finnish grandparents talk of skiing to school for miles. The Finnish history books even tell of Finnish soldiers silently sneaking up behind the enemy on skies during the winter war with Russia in 1939-1940.

Alas now it seems summer is here, and while I am enjoying the warmth and the sunlight, I can't help but miss cross country skiing.

Ski trails in my neighbourhood. Sorry for the poor picture quality but my phone camera is crap.

Me skiing.

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