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updated: 1/19/2012 12:27 PM

Wheaton cross-country ski lessons just need one thing: snow

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  • Those hoping to take a cross-country skiing class through the Wheaton Park District are hoping for a few inches of snow so they can hit the trails.

    Those hoping to take a cross-country skiing class through the Wheaton Park District are hoping for a few inches of snow so they can hit the trails.
    Daily Herald File Photo


Jen Saylor wishes she had access to a crystal ball.

Heck, she'd settle for a snow globe.

That's just what she and others hoping to participate in the Wheaton Park District's introductory cross country skiing lessons need: snow.

"I get lots of phone calls of people asking 'When is it going to snow?'" said Saylor, assistant manager of the park district's Parks Plus Fitness Center and the woman in charge of organizing the lessons. "I'm always like, 'Huh? I don't know. I have access to just like you do, so I don't know.' It makes me laugh."

However silly the question, it's an important part of the lesson. Courses take place on Saturdays through Feb. 18 at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton -- if there's snow.

Winter in Illinois almost always means plenty of "ifs" for ski lovers.

"In Illinois, we're very used to this. That's the way it is," said Bob Richards of Villa Park, who is president of Northern Illinois Nordic, a not-for-profit organization that helps the Nordic Fox Ski Club provide lessons in Wheaton.

"You really want to get people outside where they can enjoy winter and embrace winter by cross-country skiing. You can do it recreationally, competitively, by themselves or with family. It's just a fantastic activity, when there's snow," he said.

But it can't just be an inch or two. Lessons with the Wheaton Park District require six inches.

"We need Mother Nature to do it the right way," Richards said.

Despite a relatively snow-free winter, courses are already half-full, Saylor said, and always have filled to capacity when there's been snow.

The 90-minute lessons begin indoors with an introduction to the equipment and how to get it on and off, how to get up from a fall and how to turn.

Unlike downhill skis, cross-country skis are much lighter and attach to the ski only at the front of the boot.

Outdoors, people will learn two different techniques.

With some snow in the forecast, hopeful students may get the chance to try the sport soon. "It could all change in 24 hours," Richards said.

One course is usually enough to get a person out and skiing, Saylor said.

Many local forest preserves groom trails for cross-country skiers. Others choose to ski at local parks.

"It looks like a lot of fun. Every year, I say I'm going to try it and maybe this year is the year," Saylor said.

If there's enough snow.

The lessons are from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 21 and 28 and Feb. 4, 11, 18 -- snow permitting -- at Arrowhead Golf Club, 26W151 Butterfield Road, Wheaton. The cost is $10 per person.

For information, call (630) 510-5136 or email

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