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Skiing Trollhaugen in Dresser, Wisc.


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It’s currently 40 degrees in Minneapolis, and if predictions prove true, we're looking at an entire week of this gloriousness. In February! It’s truly mind-boggling for those us born and raised here, who don't let blizzards cancel Halloween, consider shoveling a great calorie-burning activity, and find heated garages one of the best aspects of home ownership.

This surprisingly calm (knock on wood!) winter has led me outdoors more than any other, and made it easy to tackle a goal I set earlier this month—to learn how to downhill ski. After waiting on Mother Nature, I dismissed natural flakes and headed to Trollhaugen for a little man-made love that was better than adequate.

Chalet photo provided by Trollhaugen

It took about an hour from the cities, and I found the grounds less intimidating than expected. The large chalet is located in the middle of the grounds; you can't miss it. Buy a lift ticket upstairs, and then look for rental equipment on the lower level. Friendly workers ask a couple questions and quickly set you up with what you need—like super short skis for this beginner. With the purchase of a lift ticket and rentals, there’s even a free adult lesson, which I was offered right away.

I happened to have an experienced out-of-town family member (who was happily surprised by the hills we could provide in this flat state!) teaching me, but if I hadn't, I would have been all over the opportunity—and we did do a little eavesdropping on the skilled instructors in orange. If you want more dedicated attention, you can schedule a private adult lesson (1 hour for $45), semi-private (two skiers of same level, 1 ½ hours for $35/person), or group lesson (three skiers, 1 ½ hours for $25).

Once I headed out, I was instantly relieved. As a natural athlete, I know I have an advantage—but it also makes me feel more pressure to do well, and I don't like to fail! Thankfully, right away, I discoverd that the ease I feel water skiing quickly related to the snow. The balance, the weight shifting, it's very similiar. We also started with no poles, which gave us less to worry about and get mixed up.

Photo provided by Trollhaugen

Trollhaugen has 22 runs total, covering 90 acres of skiable terrain, and they break it down as 29 percent beginner, 43 percent intermediate, and 28 percent advanced. After about an hour, maybe a little more, of stopping, fake "falling" and getting up, and a little turning on the bunny hill, we were ready to try an actual run.

Of the few blue circle (beginner) and green square (intermediate) trails we tried, I felt most comfortable on day one with Bjorkdahl, located to the far west (far right if you are facing the hills). It’s serviced by a chairlift, but has a nice slow pace around the main runs, so you can get your bearing, pick up some speed, but not feel overwhelmed. 

In the end, I really like Trollhaugen’s final tip in their list for beginners: If you’re tired, stop skiing.

Seriously. It’s some of the best advice there is, regarding lots of sports, especially when learning. Injuries happen when you’re tired and paying a little less attention, so after about 4 ½ hours of skiing, we called it a day.

Bruise-free (miraculously), and morale still high, I’m definitely ready to go back!

Trollhaughen: 2232 100th Avenue, Dresser, Wisc., 651-433-5141, trollhaugen.com

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