The #Nordielist is a comprehensive list of the objects, actions and characteristics that make up the Nordic skiing world. Whether invented for said world or not, their existence so defines the Nordie experience that they desire homage, (or to be made fun of).
Here in Lake Placid, we’ve just finished one of the hardest workouts of the year. The first transition over the comfort threshold into race lactic acid levels, it’s the workout we nightmare about all summer, the one that represents the grit and pain it takes to be the best skiers in the world. It’s the Whiteface bounding workout.
Bounding, with its variants known as “moosehooving” and “skiwalking,” is the off-snow, off-rollerski version of classic skiing. The hybrid of a run and a lope, bounding simulates compressing a kick pocket, except for that pocket is below a pair of running shoes, on steeper-than-skiing terrain, and you do so while working your upper body with a pair of comically short poles.
Bounding is just enigmatic enough to not have it’s own wikipedia page, so I’m going to pose that it was invented in the early 1980’s for those days when it was too snowy to rollerski but not snowy enough to ski. That, or it was the original form of dryland, used by Norse warriors to train their bodies before the long winters ahead. Either way, it’s very much an in-between exercise. In between a walk and a run. In between summer and winter. In between absurd and socially acceptable.
Nordic skiers seem to revel in that juxtaposition, however. Even though you work harder and to go slower than running, we’ve all felt that perfect bound, that moment of weightlessness that follows a flawless application of power. That feeling of grace that shatters whatever visual image we’ve created, one that feels like skiing.
Unfortunately, while we revel in the grace of a good bound, most outsiders have trouble discerning the difference between this:
When I was a junior, I had one or two winters where there the duel lack of snow and transportation left me bereft of on-snow training between racing weekends. Rather than turn to my rollerskis (because January), I would moosehoove under the lights of the local park. Ordinarily, my mom would require at least one can of mace and another emergency gadget for my jaunts into town, but on those nights, armed with my poles (whose deafening beat and repellent oddity guaranteed little threat beyond the regular side glance) I felt safe. Everyone knows not to mess with the crazy girl playing with sticks while running around the park.
But I love bounding, because, as the limbo between summer and winter, walk and run, easy and hard, beautiful and odd, it so represents and defines the best moments in skiing, the kind that are inexplicable beyond the experience in themselves. Trying to explain how something that looks like bounding is as hard as bounding feels impossible. Other than to say that THIS:
Leads to THIS:
And it’s super cool.
Thus, bounding deserves a spot on the so-far-very-short #NordieList as an integral part of our world. A spot that’s bound to get you going (punintended).