Patrick Lewis and Kenzie Barnwell ski the trails in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 7, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Patrick Lewis and Kenzie Barnwell ski the trails in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 7, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: Ski season

Nordic skiing has been a great equalizer for me this winter. I often spend my days doing laps around Bear Lake in Seward or training for the Tour of Tsalteshi.

I’ve spent many lunch hours strapping on my boots and taking a break from the home office, breaking up the monotony of working from my kitchen table by spending an hour or so sweating in the cold — a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

I’ve also been able to spend more time with friends, bringing some balance back to my social life. During a year spent within my bubble, it’s been great to see people on the ski trails in full force and safely talk to anyone interested in taking a ski break and catching up.

And best of all, I’ve been able to spend more time outside with my partner, Patrick. In the past, we go separate ways for exercise, him going for a quick run and me, a fun ski. But last year, I tried to get him into skate skiing. I figured, he’s a runner and likes classic skiing, so it should be a good fit.

In a hodgepodge of borrowed gear, we started skiing around the lake. It was a typical sunny, and windy, Seward day, though, and within a mile his beginner’s form had taken a toll on his back. We turned around, wind at his now painful back, and slogged back to the car. All the borrowed equipment was returned and I continued to ski without him.

This year, though, he was excited to give it another chance. During his first ski of the season, he donned actual skate ski boots (versus his flexible classic boots) and there was no wind, so he was immediately infinitely better, and he actually enjoyed it!

Most nights at 5 p.m. after work, we would head straight to Bear Lake and do a lap, and every night he would get a little bit faster.

We would talk about conditions, and how they affected our speed, and I would critique his poling and glide, and it reminded me of my first winter skiing, futzing and fumbling around Tsalteshi.

Eventually, Patrick improved to the point where a ski with him was less of a lesson and more of a shared experience.

His speed and skill got to the point where we were able to glide around the lake with no major falls to derail our flow and conversational level of exertion.

Skate skiing has been a good equalizer for us, allowing us to move at the same pace and enjoy each other’s company. It’s not like when we run together and I’m just struggling to breathe, let alone converse, at his pace. And it’s not like a day downhill skiing, where we hang out at the bunny hill just a little too long for my liking (but for his benefit).

And it’s been such a joy, sharing such a beloved activity with someone I care about, and watching them grow as a skier.

But, let’s be honest, the competitive side of me doesn’t want him to get any better.


By KAT SORENSEN

For the Clarion


More in Sports

Soldotna’s Jordan Strausbaugh, Erika Arthur and Ellie Burns prepare for the stretch run in the 800-meter run at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 16, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai-Soldotna track results posted

The results from Friday’s track meet between Kenai Central and Soldotna in… Continue reading

tease
Homer wrestlers host Kenai, Nikiski, Grace

Staff report Homer’s wrestling team hosted Kenai Central, Nikiski and Grace Christian… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets center Nate Thompson (11) during an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Toronto, Canada. (AP Photo/Peter Power)
Thompson becomes 3rd Alaskan to play in 800 games

By JEFF HELMINIAK Peninsula Clarion Nate Thompson became the third Alaskan to… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Emilee Wilson leads Soldotna's Erika Arthur and Jordan Strausbaugh during the 800-meter run during a dual meet Friday, April 16, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Snow clears just enough for SoHi-Kenai track dual

Sure, the track was limited to five lanes by a ring of… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Karley Harden attacks the Nikiski net Thursday, April 15, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Central soccer sweeps Nikiski

After waiting two years due to the coronavirus pandemic and a few… Continue reading

StoryWalk along the Keen-Eye Trail. (Photo by Michelle Ostrowski/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Read a book, spend time in nature with StoryWalk

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The… Continue reading

Thursday, March 18, 2021, file photo shows syringes filled with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop up site in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Tangled Up in Blue: Second dose

A few weeks removed from my second dose of the Moderna COVID-19… Continue reading

Caleb O'Hara works to a major decision of Kenai Central's Talon Whicker at 125 pounds Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Matchups for area wrestlers continue

Kenai Peninsula wrestlers Tuesday continued with a series of meets designed to… Continue reading

Soldotna's Ezekiel Miller controls Kenai Central's Owen Whicker at 130 pounds Friday, April 9, 2021, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. Miller won by major decision, 11-1. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Wrestling: SoHi hosts Kenai; Nikiski hosts Seward, Homer

Kenai Peninsula wrestlers continued to compete in unscored dual meets Friday. The… Continue reading

Most Read