Come Try Nordic Skiing on Community Days with OAS!

Written by: Dave Nichols


Have you taken advantage of the Downhill Ski Program offered by Oregon Adaptive Sports? Did you know that OAS also has a Nordic Skiing Program at Mount Bachelor every Wednesday on “Community Days”.

The snow is here! Mount Bachelor is reporting 81 inches of new snow this month, and more is on the way. It looks like 2024 is going to be a SENSATIONAL SKI SEASON. I just returned from a wonderful weekend of skiing with OAS at Bachelor. I had a great time. I saw some familiar faces and met a few new volunteers. I recently met up with OAS staffer Kathy Farrell to learn more about Nordic skiing.


DN: Dave Nichols

KF: Kathy Farrell

DN: Can you please introduce yourself to the audience?
KF: Sure, my name is Kathy Farrell. I was born in Michigan and have lived in Oregon since 2006. I originally moved out for a teaching job. After I retired, I moved to Bend. And when I learned about OAS, I knew this was something I wanted to get involved with. I’ve been volunteering and working with OAS for several years. I help with both the Alpine and Nordic programs.

DN: What is your experience with OAS, working with the disabled community, and Nordic skiing?
KF: Interestingly, I started my career in Michigan as an Elementary School PE teacher. After 20 years, I transitioned into teaching at the university level. As we all know, students in the classroom come with a variety of strengths and weaknesses.

Over the years I worked with many students with challenges in sight, hearing, cognition, and mobility. So I’ve become something like an adaptive physical education teacher because I’ve had to flex my lessons for all of my students. It was a perfect scenario for me to jump in with OAS and start helping the adaptive community here in Bend.

nordic sit skier with OAS instructor posing in beautiful sunny snowy landscape

DN: Can you tell us about Nordic Skiing? Is it different than Cross Country?

KF: Nordic and cross-country skiing are kind of synonymous, interchangeable terms. Nordic is the kind of fancier term, used more in Europe. Since some people don’t know what Nordic is, I sometimes call it cross-country skiing, just so they aren’t confused. Under the “Nordic” umbrella we offer two kinds of adaptive skiing: Classic involves skiing straight with the diagonal slide. It is usually done in tracks. Classic Nordic skiing can also be done in the backcountry, but OAS does not offer that option presently. Skate skiing involves pushing off at an angle. It is usually done on skinnier skis and groomed trails.

DN: Who should Nordic ski?
KF: Well, personally I think everyone should try Nordic skiing!! We are set up to accommodate almost everyone who wants to sign up. We have four sit-skis of various types. Three sit-skis have bucket seats. These create more of a recumbent ski-style with your legs out in front. We also have one “kneeler” where your feet are down beneath you. Depending on the athlete and their disability, we try to find the best fit, size and comfort option. Nordic sit skis are designed to fit into groomed tracks and they are used with shorter poles.

On hills, we can also use a tether if that level of support is needed. And we can two-track or three-track. OAS is currently working on acquiring a Nordic “slider” which acts like a walker on snow. I would definitely encourage anyone who’s interested to come out and give it a try! We can adapt to almost any disability and allow you to have a good experience.

DN: Can you tell me a little about the OAS Nordic Program?
KF: OAS has weekly “Community Days” every Wednesday during the ski season (January 10 to March 27). On these days anyone can come out and try Nordic Skiing for free! OAS provides free equipment rentals on these days with transportation from the Mt. Bachelor Park-and-Ride in Bend. And a free Nordic trail pass. This is a great way to try out Nordic skiing and learn the basics without investing any money. Another option on Community Days is snowshoeing with an OAS volunteer. We provide equipment for that as well.

DN: Great! What equipment is needed?
KF: Of course, everyone needs appropriate clothing for the winter weather. Nordic skis, boots and poles are needed. As I mentioned on Community Days, OAS provides rentals, trail passes, and transportation free of charge.

DN: Where can this be purchased or rented?
KF: I recommend renting equipment at the Nordic Center right on-site at Mount Bachelor. They keep the equipment in good shape and waxed. But if you want to purchase your own equipment, there is a good Consignment Shop in Bend for entry level equipment.

DN: Why go to the Nordic Center at Mount Bachelor instead of going to a snow park or trail to ski independently?
KF: OAS provides an excellent and safe way for folks to get used to winter sports. It’s safer, the Nordic trails are well-groomed and ski patrol is available if needed.

DN: How many people are able to Nordic ski with OAS at once?
KF: Based on our experience with Community Days, I would say it’s anywhere from one to a dozen or more. Our bus can accommodate 12 passengers. Sometimes our athletes come with family members. And we also have great volunteers. Private lessons are usually just the athlete, and instructor and a volunteer or two.

DN: How far ahead of time should you schedule Nordic skiing?

KF: For Community Days you can always sign-up until the day before. Anyone can call OAS for scheduling at 541-306-4774.

DN: I know that OAS does their best to prepare and prevent injuries. But we all know there is an inherent risk in skiing. Are there injuries with Nordic skiing too?
KF: Yes, but they are not as prevalent or severe as downhill and other types of skiing. We have less speed with Nordic skiing, which helps with injuries. OAS does a really good job training our volunteers on best practices with safety. We do a lot of prevention in that area because obviously we don’t want anyone to get hurt.

One thing that’s really interesting about the Nordic Center at Mt. Bachelor is you have to start out skiing downhill. It’s kind of steep. For a brand new person, they sometimes look down that hill with some apprehension. We encourage our athletes not experienced in Nordic skiing to carry their skis down to the flatter area when they are just starting out.

DN: How many people do you normally see when you go out cross country skiing?
KF: The trail system at the Nordic Center is really spread out, so you don’t see a lot of people when you are skiing there. On a Wednesday morning, you might encounter 10-20 others. That’s a real plus. It’s lovely for those who enjoy the quieter aspect of Nordic skiing. Definitely not like alpine skiing, where you might have to dodge people on the slopes and stand in long lift lines.

DN: Do you get the same rush of adrenaline as you do in alpine or downhill skiing?
KF: Sometimes I do get a rush if I’m going down a hill, especially if it’s a little icy or rutted out. It’s more of a “chill thrill,” I’d say, that’s the best way to describe it.

DN: Can you ride the Chairlifts with Nordic skis?
KF: Well, you’d have to buy a separate Lift Ticket. I’ve not seen it at Mt. Bachelor because their Nordic trails are very separate from the alpine runs. I know at Hoodoo part of their Nordic system allows cross-country skiers to ride a chair up and then ski way around the Nordic trails in the back.

DN: Anything else you would like to add?
KF: Well first off I should thank you. We’re glad you are helping OAS get the word out. I would just like to encourage everyone who hasn’t tried Nordic skiing, to give it a try. If they have tried, come back! We are hoping to grow the Nordic program. We’d like to offer another Community Day during the week. This is an untapped market for OAS. It might make the mountain more accessible for some who have not yet come out. So please help us get more folks out. Just have them call OAS at 541-306-4774 to get signed up for Nordic Skiing this season.

Group of nordic skiers

Additional Resources:

Please call OAS to sign up for a lesson. 541-306-4774

Nordic Center at Mount Bachelor

Nordic Trails at Mount Bachelor