February 2022

Thoughts about…

Slow, Controlled, and Repeatable

There are countless reasons for implementing change in our lives. Perhaps you’ve discovered new information that’ll enhance your life. Maybe you participate in a group activity that requires you to be more athletic. Or, possibly during your last vacation you experienced a revelation regarding the direction in which you want your life to go.

Whether or not these catalysts for change manifest in the mental, physical, or spiritual realm is irrelevant. The motivation is there. You want to make that change regardless of whether or not it’s based on love or fear. So the only really important takeaway, now, is that you simply get started on making that change.

Footage from the Level 2 Pre-Exam Clinic in which I participated on January 12, 2022. No Audio.

As an avid cross-country skier and instructor, my commitment to the sport is not in question. You can pretty much guarantee that if there’s snow on the ground, I’m skiing on it. But I do feel compelled to perpetually re-evaluate my skills and technique. There are many reasons for this such as wanting to have more fun and to be safer, as well as the fact that I’m always on display be it in the backcountry or at the resort. But these are not the true reasons that I want to become a better cross-country skier.

Ultimately, I diligently train in all of my chosen endeavors in order to practice self-mastery. For example, I believe that if I can make a change in my body movement on the path to becoming a better skier, that I can also change other aspects of my life (for the better).

Now, in this example, my desire for change originates from a physical starting point, cross-country skiing. But it’s all metaphor. Just as easily, that origin point could come solely from a place of intellect or spirituality. It really doesn’t matter because inevitably one affects the other. Again, the important part is to simply begin to make that positive change in your life.

Over these past few seasons, I’ve identified a noticeable change in my training. Early on in my cross-country ski career, I learned enough technique that I could ski for long distances and periods of time to the point where I was always in hot pursuit of logging more miles and elevation gain. With this formula my fitness increased, but my technique eventually flat-lined. And, as a result, I effectively limited the terrain in which I could safely access.

Crusty days of xc skiing on January 25, 2022. © Jared Manninen

Fitness obviously counts for a lot in endurance sports such as cross-country skiing. However, speed doesn’t necessarily equate to being a great skier especially if you’re not actually racing. In fact, speed often just masks the flaws and inefficiencies in our technique.

For many people, though, exercising while having fun outdoors during the winter is good enough. And, I get that. But if this thing is something that interests you, even for just a couple of months out of the year, why not really give it a go? Keep in mind that this advice comes from someone who always recommends embracing the immersive experience. What can I say? I like to go big, and I encourage everyone else to do so in their lives.

Anyway, over these past couple of years I’ve decided to focus on smaller aspects of cross-country ski technique rather than grinding out miles on the trails. This seems to be a natural progression for anyone diving deeper into their passion or profession, which is to work from general to specific. So, I now primarily engage in shorter ski sessions with targeted learning outcomes in mind.

Over my many years of sports training, I’ve found that performing technique in a slow, controlled, and repeatable manner has always been the litmus test to determine whether or not you truly know the technique. So, lately, I’ve been practicing ski maneuvers very slowly.

But I’m so fast! I must be doing it right, right? Eh. Maybe. But probably not.

Slow it down, and do it again. And again. Now, one more time. But do it even slower.

Finding sugary snow in the backcountry on January 26, 2022. © Jared Manninen

Performing slow (and correct!) movement is actually quite difficult. And, it’s very humbling because it always highlights the fundamental flaws in our positioning and technique.

But as we slow things down and evaluate our own movement, I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t other things going on around us that are also worth noting. That speed at which many of us live our lives, or how we often race through an experience, may help us to check more boxes. But that approach can also prevent us from experiencing life on a more meaningful level. Again, speed can blind us to many things.

So, am I saying that by training to become a better cross-country skier I’m going to have healthier relationships or I’m going to experience more joy at work?

Sure! Why not?!

As I previously stated, I do believe that one affects the other. So if we’re not being passionate about things in which we actually enjoy participating, what other aspects in our lives are we lacking in passion and unwilling to change about ourselves?

Early bird cross-country ski session on January 29, 2022. © Jared Manninen

Clearly, I’ve been busy this past month. I didn’t realize that I published a video per week until I started loading them into this newsletter. But they’re so fun to make that I don’t mind at all!

Please subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already. Thank you 🙂

I even published a new Tahoe Trail Guide this past month 🙂

Cross-Country Skiing Explained Mini-Series

This list of links will probably remain her for the winter, as well. I’ve noticed an increase in traffic (looking for xc ski related content) both at Tahoe Trail Guide and at my YouTube channel.

Please note that I wrote Cross-Country Skiing Explained with the beginner or intermediate cross-country skier in mind. This is the demographic for whom I most often served while working in the outdoor recreation industry at Lake Tahoe. I basically treat these articles as extensions of the conversations I’ve had with those customers. That said, expert skiers probably could take away something of value from this article. Just know that I don’t intend to address racing-oriented philosophy, technique, or gear selection.

Considerations for buying cross-country ski gear (new and beginner xc skiers)

Classic Cross-Country Ski Components

Waxing Your “Waxless” Cross-Country Skis (for beginner and intermediate xc skiers)

Thanks for being a part of my life. Until next time…

-Jared Manninen

Tahoe Trail Guide is an online resource for hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing in the Lake Tahoe region. In addition to trail data, I offer backcountry “how-to” articles and information about the local and natural history of Tahoe. Tahoe Swag is a collection of art and design products I create based on my love of the outdoors and appreciation for Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains.

If you like any of the images I post in these newsletters, please contact me. I’d be more than happy to upload them to my RedBubble account so that you can order prints and other merchandise featuring the images.

Otherworldly snow at Grass Lake on February 3, 2022. © Jared Manninen

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Categories: Newsletters
Tags: #2022

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