If yesterday was all about snowshoeing, today was all about skiing! Tim and I had tried cross-country skiing in Lapland a couple of times before but it's very easy to forget everything you've learned from one year to the next, and this was going to be Alfie's first time on skis, so we'd booked a beginners' lesson for this morning.
The good news was that the weather was a bit warmer today, and so it was only about minus 12 as we made our way to the starting point for the lesson.
We had to carry our skis down to the frozen lake, which has the advantage of being completely flat, so is an excellent place for beginners to practise Although it was 10am, as you can see in the photos it was still quite dark and the street lights were still on.
We soon got to the lake. As you can see in this photo, cross-country skiing is done within tracks which are carved into the snow by special machines. You place each of your skis in the tracks and then follow them wherever they lead.
First of all we learned how to clip into our skis...
...and then we were ready to go...
...although we were temporarily distracted by the beautiful pink colour of the sky This time it was sunrise rather than sunset.
The instructor told us to put just one ski on first of all and to practise gliding in one of the tracks.
Whilst we practised, the sky turned an even deeper shade of red.
Once we'd mastered one foot at a time, we progressed onto skis on both feet. The instructor was a bit mean and confiscated our ski poles so that we had to work on our balance!
Alfie was a bit better at it than me
The sunrise continued to be incredible as we practised going up and down the tracks on the lake.
With practice I was maybe getting a bit better
Eventually we were given our poles back and I felt a lot happier.
There was just time to have a last look at the sunrise, before we skied right to the far end of the lake.
From there we had to learn how to move uphill with our skis, which was rather hard work. You have to stick your feet outwards like a penguin and try very hard not to slip backwards as you take small steps up the slope. Once we'd managed this, we were off the lake and onto one of the ski tracks beyond it.
The terrain here was a bit more uneven, but it was exciting as we were skiing through the trees.
At this point only one more challenge remained; skiing down a very steep slope! It looked way too steep for me so I opted out, but Tim and Alfie both managed it Alfie got most of the way down before falling over (but managed to stand back up again straightaway, using a technique we'd been taught at the beginning of the class). Tim's attempt went a bit wrong when he managed to come out of the tracks and descended the hill very fast indeed, although he somehow succeeded in getting back into the tracks in the end and remained upright throughout. Unfortunately no videos of this!
That concluded the lesson, so it was time to head back to the lake.
We were all rather tired by this point, so headed back to the apartment for a much-needed rest. Later this evening we'll be setting off for the lake again, this time to celebrate New Year