November 28, 2021

Cross country catches on

Skiers hit the trail, enjoy new hobby amid pandemic

Photo provided by Glen Reisweber

Cross country skiers take to the trails this winter at Lime Hollow Nature Center. The trails there, like elsewhere in the state, were extra busy this year as people sought to get out of the house in a socially-distanced manner.

Cross country skiers in Cortland County have found a new hobby among the pandemic in the absence of some seasonal sports.

The popularity of the sport has led to a shortage of cross country skis and related products in stores, said Glenn Reisweber, executive director at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandvillle, which offers up to 12 miles of cross country trails.

A friend of Reisweber ordered skis and boots in December and still hasn’t gotten his gear.

“Because of the COVID predictions, there were no indoor sports this year,” Reisweber said on Wednesday. “The classic sport of social distancing is cross country skiing because you have a 6-foot ski attached to your foot.”

Cross country skiing not only allows physical fitness and safe socializing in a time where both are not easy, but it’s good for people’s mental health because they can get outside and exercise, Reisweber said.

And this season was great for it between the frequent snowfall and the 15- to 25-degree Central New York temperatures.

“This was the season to get into cross country skiing,” Reisweber said. “It’s normally a sleepy sport, but this year was the perfect combination for a good winter.”

In anticipation for the winter craze, Lime Hollow opted not to rent skis to the public this year, but Gabrielle Woo of Ithaca was an exception.

“This was my first time borrowing skis from Lime Hollow,” said Woo, who hasn’t skied downhill or cross country in 10 years. “I am a distance runner, I run a lot of trails that are not always feasible to run in the winter and this was a good way to stay in shape and cross train.”

Both Woo and Reisweber saw an incredible number of skiers on the trails, they said. Although Woo didn’t know what to expect on the trails, she said certain times of day were packed.

None of the state or municipal parks in Central New York have a winter admission price and the accessibility of the trail head made it easy for Woo to hit the trails three to four times a week.

“We have seen a two to three times increase this year at Lime Hollow,” Reisweber said. “We had more calls than ever before with people interested in renting skis.”

Woo expects to continue skiing next year and wants to buy her own equipment, if she can find it.

“I don’t like being stuck inside in the winter, it’s great to be outside and not cooped up in the house with lots of people,” Woo said. “It made a huge difference.”