Steamboat Springs Ski walking may look awkward, but its health benefits are serious.
"The positive forward drive action burns more calories and lessens the stress on shins and the back," said Pete Edwards, a former running and skiing coach who travels the country to conduct ski walking clinics. "It's great for balance."
Ski walking looks like cross-country skiing without the poles or the snow. The health benefits of cross-country skiing and walking are common knowledge. The combination of the two is something Nordic athletes have done for years. Edwards is trying to introduce the sport to the masses in this country.
It's already popular in Europe, he said.
"It makes walking easier because you engage your arms," Edwards said. "For skiers, it's super easy. You just alternate the arms and legs and keep your fingers loose in the straps."
Those unaccustomed to cross-country skiing movements may find it more difficult, but like anything, it just takes some time and practice, Edwards said.
The only gear required for ski walking are walking and running shoes and poles, which look like modified trekking poles with straps for the hands and tips at the ends. Durable carbide works well on off-road surfaces, but natural rubber tips are fine for paved surfaces.
The key is finding poles of the right length to ensure correct posture and comfort. The poles Edwards sells are made in Lillehammer, Norway.
Edwards taught a clinic at the Yampa Valley Medical Center while he was in Steamboat Springs to watch his daughter compete in the NCAA Men's and Women's Skiing Championships. The response at SportsMed was positive.
"It was originally for athletes, but it has evolved," he said.
For more information about ski walking, call Edwards (877) SKI-WALK or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com