|Nordic Skating: Top Destinations|
by Tim Neville
Ice-skating without a puck and stick has always reminded me of those spontaneous outings in college to the bowling alley. They were always fun and goofy for the first little bit until that novelty wore off and we found ourselves doing the same thing over and over again. Don't get me wrong. Twirling around at the local ice rink can be a blast, but there are only so many different ways to do the same lap.
Wild skating the Connecticut River
on the Vermont-New Hampshire line
But then there's Nordic skating, and in particular, "wild skating." That's a whole other game. The sport has been creeping over to this side of the Atlantic for years now, but it still remains a fringe sport. Lucky for you, though, there are plenty of places to get out and zip along a lick of ice without bleachers to put a kink in your wanderlust. Of course, skating wild—that is on unmaintained, often unproven ice—has its inherent risks. The biggest, aside from plunging through a brittle surface to a watery end, is that the areas with the biggest potential for long-haul skating might be in shape only for a couple of days—a couple of weeks at best—during the year. Don't take this sport lightly. Be informed about conditions by asking locals and doing your own testing. In general, the best bodies of water for Nordic skating are those that benefit from cold temperatures but little snow. You want your ice to be thick and smooth. The driver's dreaded black ice is a wild skater's dream. It's okay to get a midwinter rain, too. The new layer of moisture can repair the lake surface much like a Zamboni might.
Europe has scores of great places to skate wild. Austria is hard to beat. Finland, too. And Sweden is Europe's Minnesota with tens of thousands of lakes. Stateside, New England's Lake Champlain should be your first stop.
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||Easy to Moderate|
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