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XC Skiing Takes You Places

Have you ever considered how effective cross-country skiing is in opening your eyes to the rest of the world? Often times I've reflected on how much of my life has been influenced both directly and indirectly by the peripherial bonuses of cross-country skiing.

For example, I'm originally from Spooner, Wisconsin. Now, Spooner is one of those quaint little country towns where the people live generally quiet lives in accordance with traditions that have been upheld for decades. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, except for the fact that (at least in the pre-internet days of my youth) you found that sometimes you didn't get much exposure for how the rest of the world behaved.

One of the advantages of Spooner, however, is that once a year the whole world comes to Hayward, Wisconsin to ski the American Birkebeiner. This event causes a kind of magnetic force of curiosity that draws us all up to Hayward to witness the spectacle.

Oddly enough, my grandparents were selected on more than one occasion to house elite skiiers for the days preceding the big race. In these moments, my grandfather used to "treat" visitors from all over the world with free demonstrations as to how to "not" drive on icy roads (this involved slamming on the brakes and spinning the steering wheel wildly while cackling madly and eventually crashing into a snowbank...my grandpa was awesome...they stopped sending athletes to be housed with him eventually though).

Still, just being able to interact with all these people from all over the world and to get just a taste of the sound of their language and the spirit of their culture awoke a NEED to seek these places out and to know them better. At this point in my life, I'm proud to say that I've done ski races in Australia, Germany, Italy and Canada and I can attest that you really don't know a country until you've done a marathon there.

Skiing gives you a reason to travel, heck, the quest for snow necessitates it, and sooner or later anyone who skis finds themselves setting foot in a car looking for snow, or jumping on a plane to participate in some distant race, or picking up a rental car in Bavaria while speaking broken German after having just struggled with their oversized ski bag on a european bullet train.

What could be beter than that? Seriously!

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