A Cheap Way Into Winter Sports?

By Beacon Staff

I’ve got big news: The Testa household had a new arrival last night! Twins! I could hardly believe when I cradled them in my arms, nuzzling and cooing down at them. I spoke nonsense words until I embarrassed myself, but I’m just so proud. I couldn’t hold back the tears. They weigh 8 lbs. 9 ounces and they are beautiful, just beautiful. I’m choking up just thinking about them and I can’t wait to get home to see them again. Yes, it’s a very special time in a young man’s life when he buys a new pair of ski boots.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to name them yet. But as much as I love the fall, I start to itch for the winter. And that itch is turning into a full body rash for me (sorry about that image). Only fall has those cold, rainy days like we’ve had the last few weeks in the Flathead where you can’t do anything in the way of athletics unless you’re a bowler. I know we need the rain and I welcome it, but I think I may be ready for the white stuff.

And it’s getting to be that time for most other people. The Kalispell ski swap happens Oct. 6 and 7 and ski conditioning classes are beginning at some health clubs around the Flathead. While I don’t plan to actually take any of those classes, I am looking forward to cursing my stout self for not doing so after the first heaving, gasping, thigh-burning, goggle-steaming run I take this winter.

This will be my first winter in the Flathead, and I hear they can be gray and dreary. But I’ve found the best thing for those doldrums is to get outside and embrace the grey and cold a bit through physical activity. Having something challenging to learn on a snowy afternoon is a pleasure – and it doesn’t have to be a scary or potentially painful activity, like downhill skiing. Getting out on a flattish, groomed cross-country ski course and practicing smooth, efficient movement is just as much fun.

While a day at the ski resort can get expensive, it’s worth trolling the ski swaps and thrift stores for used gear, especially snowshoes, cross-country skis or sleds. The deals will be out there for the next few weeks. There’s a barrel in the Salvation Army in Kalispell full of reasonably priced cross-country skis in good condition, as well as at the thrift shop on Second Street and Fifth Avenue West in Kalispell. Runner-Up sports in Whitefish is full of deals on used gear for snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing. And staff there say the used winter gear doesn’t really start pouring in until October.

The word on the street is that this is going to be a good year for snow. The Northwest U.S. is supposed to flip from the relatively dry El Nino weather system to the wetter La Nina system, and if that’s the case we should get more snow on the slopes this year than we’ve had in some time. It can be easier than you think to take advantage of it, and if you’re not one who looks forward to winter, this might be the year to change your mind.