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Skishoeing comes to Minot

Submitted Photo An introductory skishoeing event is scheduled at Minot’s Souris Valley Golf Course for Saturday, Jan. 25. Skishoes are a hybrid between traditional cross-country skis and showshoes.

They are too wide and too short to be a cross-county ski, and too long and too narrow to be a snowshoe.

What are they?

Skishoes, and they are beginning to see a rise in popularity.

Skishoeing is proving to be very good way for people of all ages to get out and enjoy the snow. It doesn’t take much snow either, just an inch will do. That’s one of the benefits of skishoes, a hybrid between traditional cross-county skis and snowshoes.

“The combination brings the best of two things together and are a lot of fun,” said Matt Davis, North Country Trail Association director in Detroit Lakes, Minn. “They are much more versatile than cross-country skis or snowshoes. They’ll go in as little as an inch of snow and you don’t need a groomed trail.”

Submitted Photo Wider than a cross-country ski, skishoes also provide the benefits of a snowshoe by keeping the skier on top of the snow. No groomed trail is necessary for skishoeing.

Glee Mayer of Minot has discovered skishoeing and is hooked on them, and not just for areas of little or light snow cover.

“I was in Colorado and we climbed up over 1,000 feet in skishoes,” said Mayer. “They were amazing. We went right up and got the benefit of skiing down. You can control them pretty good.”

Anyone familiar with traditional skis knows how difficult moving uphill can be, especially if more than a few yards. Not so with skishoes. Their length and width provides flotation atop snow much like a snowshoe.

“You don’t sink. They sit on top of the snow,” explained Mayer. “And you don’t need a groomed trail so it’s the next best thing.”

Cross-country ski trails require grooming for skiers to get the most enjoyment out of them. If the snow is too deep cross-country skiing becomes very difficult. With skishoes there’s enough lift provided to stay on top of the snow and still be able to ski forward without difficulty.

“It’s been my experience that if people try them, they are hooked,” said Davis. “They have a universal binding too, so any winter shoe or hiking boot will fit in there.”

A series of three introductory skishoeing events are scheduled for Jan. 24-26. Davis says the purpose of the events is to get more people to try the sport. You won’t have to worry about having your own skishoes either. Loaner skishoes will be provided.

“We will have 10 pairs of skishoes at each event. Some will be kid’s sizes,” said Davis. “Anybody older than five will be able to fit in a pair. We’ll have basic instruction and people will be able to try them out.”

Minot’s Souris Valley Golf Course has been selected as one of the sites for a skishoeing event to be held next Saturday from 1-3 p.m. Davis said the North Country Trail Association is hosting the event with the help of Minot Parks. While people can be introduced to skishoes they can also learn more about the NCTA.

The NCTA was established in 1981. It is a 4,600 mile trail stretching from Vermont to North Dakota. The trail enters the state in the southeast corner at Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site and winds its way to Lake Sakakawea State Park near Pick City.

While the Souris Valley event will not be held on an actual section of the North Country Trail, the event set for Jan. 24 at Lake Sakakawea State Park will be. Davis says he hopes to recruit a few new volunteers interested in the western end of the trail, both in promoting it and improving it. According to Davis, skishoes are a perfect fit for the trail.

“You don’t need a packed trail. Skishoes are easier because with every step you can glide just under the surface of the snow. They are more efficient than snowshoes and a lot less tiring,” said Davis.

The North Country Trail is divided into three sections in North Dakota although all three are connected for a total distance of 436 miles. The southeastern section runs from the ND/MN border to the north end of Lake Ashtabula. The central section is the stretch of trail from the north end of Lake Ashtabula to the west end of the McClusky Canal. What is called the western terminus runs 23 miles from the west end of the McClusky Canal to Lake Sakakawea State Park.

It is Davis’ hope that skishoeing will eventually lead to increased usage of the trail during the winter months.

“It is starting to catch on in the Midwest,” remarked Davis. “People are finding skishoes are perfect on hiking trails.”

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