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Rachael's OAC Skinbased Experience
This is the second time I’ve written for Wild Rock about trying something new and falling in love with it – I’m becoming a professional novice. Last time I wrote about discovering bikepacking; how much of a learning curve it was but also how magical it can be. I had a similar experience with cross-country skiing – particularly the OAC Skinbased skis. Their stability and easy-to-use features gave me the confidence to try something different.
When I started working at Wild Rock, the closest thing to skiing I had ever done was trying to stand up on a sheet of corrugated plastic sliding into Cristy Pits Park in Toronto. From what I remember, that didn’t go well. As a big city kid, I wasn’t introduced to cross-country skiing until I moved to Peterborough in 2016 – and I didn’t try skiing it until 2021. Now I have 4 sets of skis: classic, skate, backcountry, and the OAC Skinbased skis.
I was first introduced to the Skinbased Ski line with a video of a woman using them to pull a sled with winter camping equipment on it. As an avid bikepacker I knew I needed to try ski packing(!). Also seeing my more experienced colleagues get excited about them made me confident that I needed a pair.
I purchased the XCD GT model – Cross Country Downhill. From the second I had them out of the box and for that whole winter, I had the skis in my trunk ready to throw them on at a moment’s notice. The stock bindings are designed to allow you to wear whatever boots you want and are adjustable for size – this meant I could let my friends try them without complication.
I started just sliding around on Pigeon Lake and loved their control and stability. As someone who was just learning to ski, they allowed me to gain the foundation that I needed to move to a thinner faster ski without feeling totally out of my depth. They grip the ground well so even on icy surfaces I felt very stable.
Once I got comfortable just sliding around, I started testing their up and downhill capabilities. I started by climbing up the banks of the lake and sliding down – I was surprised by how fast they could go. I found taller and steeper slopes to ski down and although I felt quite stable most of the time, I still had my share of falls – especially trying to stop at the bottom of hills. My exploring brought me to Emily Park Track where I ended up taking them almost every weekend. It has hills, trees, well-packed walking paths and unbroken trails. I even managed to convince my dad (who was a child the last time he went skiing) to come with me. It took 10 minutes for him to confidently climb up and down the little (and not so little) hills. He’s not a winter person and definitely not a winter sports person – but he had an amazing time. He was interested to know that there was a shorter more ‘snowshoe-like’ version – the KAR.
Other than playful afternoon outings with family and friends, they are also great for adventures. On one of my other memorable adventures with the Skinbased skis, a friend and I took them out on Kasshabog Lake. We skied up and over the islands, and across the lake – we got thoroughly lost. It was incredible. We eventually found a steep hill and spent an hour climbing up and skiing down. I have never downhill skied, so I found it challenging at first. Eventually, I was able to slide to a stop at the bottom gracefully. Once we were done testing their downhill capabilities, we took our skis off and were able to walk around comfortably in just our boots. We had a quick lunch and then followed our tracks back.
Winter is just around the corner – it's almost time to put them in my car to slide around Fleming campus between classes or lend them to a friend who wants to try something new.