It only took 27 years, but I finally took a ski lesson this past weekend – albeit nordic instead of alpine. The world just isn’t ready for me screaming down a hill on skis, so we’ll save that for another time.
This lesson was definitely a long time coming and it had to happen (seeing as I’d like to get into backcountry splitboarding and skijoring), and I couldn’t think of a better place to try than Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, NH.
So, if you happen to be looking for a great place for your first nordic experience – read on!
Getting there: I’ve been to Gunstock countless times in many seasons, but knowing that there was an incoming blizzard this past weekend I opted to pick a nordic ski area closer to home and easy to get to. Gunstock totally fit that as it’s about an hour away from Manchester, NH, almost entirely highway, and the roads are usually well maintained. I was pleased to see that the nordic ski area doesn’t share parking with the alpine area, so finding parking on a busy day was simple.
What to expect: If you’re headed here for a lesson, it couldn’t be much easier. Within 10 minutes of walking into the warm and inviting Nordic Center, I had been outfitted with boots, skis, poles, had been introduced to my instructor (Fred), and met my fellow nordic newbies. We were able to leave extra gear (shoes, jackets, bags, etc.) in the center under the watchful eye of the staff.
Soon enough, we were out on a wonderfully level part of the trail learning the basics of balance, gliding, stopping, and how to assess the terrain. Fred made sure that all of us were at least comfortable with going and stopping before we started out on an easy trail. On trail, we learnt the finer points of trail etiquette and how to handle hills (which I snowballed down because I was the class klutz). Soon enough, it kind of felt like we knew what we were doing! Fred didn’t rush us one bit, so the hour long lesson felt perfect. After that, we were free to take our newfound skills out on our own.
And the trails? Gunstock has 10km of nordic trails with everything ranging from easy to… well… stuff I won’t be doing anytime soon. For the most part, the trails are just what you’d expect out of a nordic skiing experience – scenic, woodsy, and lots of snow. Others loop through the campground.
Cost: Doing a lesson your first time is definitely worth the price. Seeing as rentals cost $17 and a day pass costs $17, you’re basically getting a lesson for $6 as the total is just $40. It’s a good deal! PS: Don’t forget to tip your instructor.