Tag Archives: Vancouver

Cross-country skiing gaining momentum in post-Olympics Vancouver

Vancouverites looking for winter adventure that doesn’t include careening down a near-vertical slope on two slats of fibreglass shouldn’t discount skiing altogether. Cross-country skiing may not have the sex appeal of downhill skiing or snowboarding, but the sport offers snowy fun with a great workout thrown in.

Photo from blogto.com. A cross-country skier glides on a slight downhill slope.

Since the 2010 Olympics, local interest in cross-country skiing has surged. T.K. Campbell, who works at Kitsilano-based nordic ski shop Sigge’s, said there has been a definite increase in interest, particularly among baby boomers looking for an alternate to downhill, and in young, fit people looking for a tough workout.

“The young people are definitely coming in to skate ski,” Campbell said, referring to a type of nordic skiing where a skating-like technique is used.

Campbell said the first time out can be fun for a beginner since picking up the basics isn’t too tricky. What is more difficult is perfecting the technique.

Best local option: Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain is a good option for beginners, since it offers rentals and is close to town. Cypress also boasts lit trails for night skiing, making weeknight outings possible for those stuck in the office or classroom during the days.

Stephen Greenaway, a former competitive cross-country skier, said the Cypress nordic ski area is on the side of the mountain, which is both a perk and a downside.

“The easy trails mostly stay at one elevation,” Greenaway said. “If you want more interesting trails, you either have to ski down for a while and then all the way back up in one shot, or all the way up and then down.”

Overall, he said the trails are good for beginners, and a long slope at the beginning of the park gives skiers a solid workout.

Cypress doesn’t offer a student or youth rate, but fortunately cross country ski tickets are far cheaper than downhill tickets, making this an affordable day on the mountain. A full-day lift tickets for adults (19-64) costs $17.86, and a half day (3 p.m. to close) costs $15.18.

Not sure you can even put skis on, let alone glide in them?

Cypress offers one-day lessons. $66 includes a lesson, rental and ticket.

 

Photo by: Rob Baxter. Two cross-country skiers enjoy a snowy day in the Callaghan Valley

A bit further away: Callaghan Valley

 

The Callaghan Valley, located just south of Whistler along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, is a cross-country skier’s paradise. More than 90km of trails wind through snow-covered deciduous trees across visually stunning landscape of towering peaks.

The valley is also the site of the Whistler Olympic Park, where the Nordic events of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games were held.

Not surprisingly, deluxe fancy ski and stay packages are available, and different itineraries are available. Prices vary.

Gear

Skiis, poles, bindings and winter clothing. Simple, right?

Well, yeah. But be aware: downhill skis and cross-country skis are different. Classic cross-country skis are long and narrow to distribute the skier’s weight, allowing him or her to move quickly. Ski length varies based on a person’s height, but average dimensions are 2m long by 5cm wide.

Skate skis tend to be shorter and stiffer than those used for the classical technique, and the poles are longer.

I will be strapping on cross-country skis for the first time on Sunday! Stay tuned for an update on my experience (with photos).

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

Photo by: Timi Newton-Syms. A skier's view.

 



Seawall gives cyclists a safe and scenic route through Vancouver

The cold, snowy weather today is making me think nostalgically about warmer, drier weather – ideal weather for cycling.

In case you didn’t know, it’s possible to cycle from Lost Lagoon all the way around Stanley Park to the Telus World of Science (via English Bay and Yaletown) and end up at Granville Island without having to ride on the road. A few Saturdays ago I set out to do this ride, one of my favourites.

I started at Lost Lagoon. This is a great place to start if you’re renting a bike or tandem bike, because there are three bike rental shops nearby. The best known is Spokes, which is on the corner of Georgia and Denman, right next to the park.

I looped Stanley Park on the seawall (counter-clockwise direction), dodging confused pedestrians in the bike lane and construction areas. The seawall has been under construction since summer 2010 as they upgrade the pavement and walls where the ocean meets the land. Third Beach was bustling with morning sun-seekers despite the chilly temperatures.

I cruised through Yaletown toward Science World. The sun was in my eyes the whole way there in the morning, but that didn’t stop me from speeding past slower cyclists. My favourite section is when the path passes a group of waterfront cafes. It’s definitely an area to go slow, not only to avoid killing someone but because it’s a prime people-watching spot. People of all ages lounge on heated patios sipping morning caesars and dining on some truly delicious-looking brunch. There are dogs all over the place, tied to the balcony railings and sniffing at their owners’ meals. I can usually pick up a few brief snatches of gossip as I pass by, and it’s almost always salacious and

Looking back at the city from the seawall.

amusing.

From here it’s not too much further on to the Edgewater Casino (another great spot for people watching, as gamblers stumble bleary-eyed out into the daylight). In the summer, you can see the tents of Cirque du Soleil just past the casino, but on a fall day it’s just a vast empty lot.

The next section of seawall is picturesque, but it is not ideal for bikes because of the cobblestone in some sections. Watch out – it’s slippery and quite bumpy at times.

The path continues on to Granville Island, where you can stop for a visit (bike parking is decent) or continue on through the townhouses, duck ponds and dog parks. I turned off the seawall at the connector to the Burrard Street Bridge. Hey, we’ve got these great bike lanes, we might as well take advantage of them! It’s just a quick jaunt back across the bridge and I arrived back downtown.

A perfect way to spend a couple of hours on a beautiful afternoon.