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 In Diary of a Ski Musteress

In my latest ‘Diary of a Ski Musteress’ I describe my first Ladies’ Tuesday skate-style ski lesson and share my discovery of previously unknown muscle groups…

Ladies’ Tuesdays ski program takes place every Tuesday morning at 10am at Snow Farm NZ. Find out more at To join the program, head to Snow Farm NZ’s Online Shop page or email

What a lovely welcome…

Look how stoked our instructors are when ‘Ladies’ Tuesday’ comes around! Meet Lucy from Canada, Tuva from Norway and Swiss Sophia who are working wonders with the ladies beginner group on Tuesday mornings. They even set out our individual rental ski equipment on the racks, personally-labelled — how’s that for service with a smile!

Left to right: Snow Farm NZ instructors Lucy, Tuva and Sophia

Classy ladies strike a groovy pose after their first lesson!
Classic-style is the most popular way to start cross country skiing, the skis are more manageable than skating skis and they glide within twin grooves sunk into the snow (like train tracks). When the ladies group divided in to classic and skating options I felt like ‘Billy no mates’ as everyone else (sensibly?!) strode off on classic skis.

Participants of the second Ladies’ Tuesday of the season

Yep, I’m hooked on sliding around on these two skinny skating skis with no brakes and no edges.

I’d been told that skating was challenging, as Sophia said: ‘Classic is easy to learn but hard to master, whereas skating is hard to learn but easy to master’. Nevertheless, when I put skate skis on for the first time I felt like a gawky Bambi, the sensation was so very different, I was quite taken aback.
Tentatively I started out with one ski in the classic track and one freestyle, the flat 10m mark looked impossibly distant. My mind started to cast doubts, ‘what are you thinking of, learn classic, it’s much easier to grasp’.
Fast forward an hour, with Sophia by my side, I was starting to get the hang of it, the sense that this was a skill worth mastering, the fleeting sensation of poise, balance and glide. Yep, I am now hooked on these two skinny skating skis with no brakes and no edges. I shall master them yet!
I felt a distinct tingle of satisfaction and found myself smiling inexplicably for the rest of the day after my first skate ski experience. My dream is to ski with symmetry and style as demonstrated by Campbell Wright at the Cobweb Classic race, hosted by Snow Farm, on 29 June. This is now my mental vision — but work in progress — I’ve got to master turning next!

Rising star Campbell Wright at Cobweb Classic 2019 racing event

Do I know my adductors from my abductors?

Relaxing together over coffee after our second lesson, my group laughed as we found out that several of us had discovered the same new muscle — our leg adductors had made an appearance (more commonly known as the inner thigh), not to be outdone by our leg abductors (outer thighs).
In fact, cross-country skiing uses a whole cluster of primary muscles, according to
  • Pectoral (chest) and triceps (back of arms) to push the poles away from the body;
  • Rhomboids, rear deltoids and biceps – pulling muscles which help bring the poles forward and behind the body;
  • Abdominal core to maintain balance;
  • Hamstrings (back of legs) for leg flexion;
  • Quadriceps (front legs) to extend and straighten the legs;
  • Gluteus (buttocks) to climb hills and take long strides;
  • Those new friends our adductors and abductors (inner and outer thighs) to help stabilise the knees and move the leg away from the body;
  • And the delicious-sounding gastrocnemius, a calf muscle which supports the actions of the lower leg.
People definitely feel the burn after that body workout! Now I can understand why professional cross-country skiers are amongst the fittest athletes of any sport.

What do you prefer, classic or skate (or a beach in Bali)? Do share!

Margaret, 7 July

Follow ‘Diary of a Ski Musteress’ on Snow Farm NZ‘s and Merino Muster‘s websites, Facebook and Instagram social media pages, plus on Margaret’s Instagram page @BattyIdeas

A bit about me:

After 30 years of commuting, career and city life
in crowded London and travelling to over 90
countries, I moved to wonderful Wanaka with
Gary, to pause, breathe and reconnect with the
mountains – and my muscles…We’re totally
smitten with New Zealand, immersing ourselves
in all four seasons, biking, hiking, kayaking and
skiing, for a precious year-off (an ‘OE’ in our
fifties) before heading back to England,

Attempting the Merino Muster is my nod to the famous Kiwi ‘give it a go’ attitude.

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