Sports on Ice

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

When the weather turns brisk and the snow flies, not everyone turns from physical activity to a cup of cocoa and a good book. The winter season actually brings out quite a few sports nuts, from snowshoers to skiers to snowmobilers.


For David and Diane Odens, a Brookings couple, this year’s snowfall meant not only a chance to dig out the old cross-country ski equipment, but also the opportunity to try out a different activity: snowshoeing.

“We bought our snowshoes this year, on sale at Sam’s Club for $65 for each pair,” David explains. “I’ve been out twice so far on snowshoes.”

He and his wife both enjoy the activity. Diane says, “The thing about snowshoeing is you can just stop and enjoy the scenery and it’s a peaceful kind of thing.”

Doubtless David also appreciates the calm of snowshoeing, but what he points out as fun are more the technical aspects of the activity.

“You can walk on drifts that are waist-deep and only sink in about that far,” he says, holding his hands about 8″ apart. “The thing is, with boots when you sink in you have to work to get yourself out. Snowshoes, it’s easy. Even though you sink in, it’s not a big deal.”

And while David still likes cross-country skiing, Diane has left that sport behind and prefers her new toys. “I like best that I can walk and enjoy my surroundings rather than focusing so much on whether I slide forward or backward on cross-country skis.”

She also likes the variety of conditions that snowshoes can handle.

“You don’t need to have a groomed trail for snowshoeing whereas you do for skiing. “

David agreed, noting that snowshoes are better suited for fresh, powdery, or icy snow, and also see benefits to snowshoeing that cross-country skiing didn’t offer.

“The thing I like about snowshoeing is you can go up and down hills a lot easier. I’m not good enough on cross country skis to go uphill,” he says with a laugh.

But snowshoes aren’t all glory and skis the dumps, he adds. “With cross country skis you can go faster and when you get the motion down — and get the glide — you can really go and cover a lot of ground in a short time. And it’s probably more of an aerobic exercise.”

Then David straps on his snowshoes to head out for a quick walk with his daughter Amelia. While they ‘re out, Diane sneaks in one last word about the benefits of snowshoes.

“Snowshoes can come in really handy when you’re hunting — you can walk across all those fields and not sink in,” she says.


So she hears, anyway, not being a hunter herself. And hunters who aren’t snowshoers hear that, too. In addition, hunting can be a good match with other modes of transport, Scott Moberg, a freshman diesel mechanic student from Lake Area Technical Institute says. He enjoys spending time in the winter wonderland in pursuit of racoons, jackrabbits and coyotes.

“[To hunt in the winter you need to] have a vehicle that runs and you can offroad with; four-wheel drive helps a lot.”

While snow adds a new dimension to hunting — being really cold, for example — it can be beneficial.

“Sometimes [snow] can make it easier, like if you get coyotes in deep powder, and run them down with a snowmobile,” he says.

“Just run ’em over,” Moberg’s friend Brad Hekrdle, a sophomore diesel mechanic student at LATI, agrees.

Although Hekrdle separates his hunting from his snowmobiling, he enjoys both.


In fact, Hekrdle has had so much fun riding a friend’s snowmobile of late that he’s planning to invest in his own, which is no small commitment.

“They can range from $100 to five or six thousand,” he says.

The cash would be worth it, though.

“It’s something to keep me busy, out of trouble,” he says, adding with a smile, “They go fast.”

SDSU junior nursing student Jecelyn Fast also gets out on a snowmobile, but she prefers to take in the scenery.

“I like snowmobiling because I just like being outside and I think it’s pretty,” she says.

For Fast, snowmobiling is a long-standing family tradition.

“When I was in elementary school my dad and older brothers would always snowmobile and I would always go along,” she says.

She still enjoys snowmobiling with her family on one of their four sleds, but hasn’t had the chance to do it this year.

“I was supposed to go this weekend but there wasn’t enough snow where I live, not enough snow in the ditches.”

When she does get the chance to ride, she sticks to the marked, groomed trails in the ditches near her Iroquois home.


Although Fast hasn’t been out on the motorized sleds yet, she has been having fun with friends in plastic sleds.

“This winter [I’ve been out sledding] twice.

It’s just fun to be with friends and roll down the hill and see how many people you can get on the sled,” she says.

For others who might want to partake in the fun of sliding down Larson Hill, Outback Jacks can help out by providing plastic sleds for rental.

For 50 cents a day, anyone can rent a sled at the on-campus outdoor store.

Kristen Thies, a freshman and Outback Jacks attendant, says the sleds have been popular.

“We’ve had quite a few people come and get them,” she says.

In addition, snowshoes are available for rent for $2.10 and cross-country ski sets for $4.50.

When the equipment is returned, Thies says she likes to hear tales from the day.

“Most people have funny stories, like ‘Oh, I laughed when my daughter fell.’ It’s neat to hear if people have a good time or not and most of them do I believe.”

X-Country Skiing

Outback Jacks may have the corner on the market for rentals, but those looking to invest in a pair of cross-country skis can check Sioux River Cyclery.

Mark Winquist, a sales and service employee there, explains what’s available.

“We have XCS equipment — skis, boots, bindings and poles.

“You can get into skis like that for $150 or more. You can get into some decent stuff for that price,” he said.

He added that for serious racers, prices can shoot up to more than $1000 for equipment.

However, “Not too many racers around here,” he says.

While he may not count himself in that limited category, Windquist spends a fair amount of time on his own skis.

“[I’ve been cross-country skiing for] probably 15 or 20 years. I try to get out once a week, but it depends on the snow.

“It’s just a nice winter activity, get out and play in the snow.”

He says favorite ski spots include Edgebrook Golf Course, Oakwood State Park, or Camden State Park in Minnesota.

Popularity of those spots — and of the sport in general — depend heavily on how much snow the area receives.

“[This year we’ve sold] more [equipment] than the last couple years, because of all the snow. It’s kind of sporadic; depends on the amount of snow,” Windquist says.

Flash back to David and Diane Odens, prime example of the snow for sales phenomenon of cross country skis.

“We got them in 2000, the year we had terrible lot of snow. The winter we got them we had lots of snow and it stayed around for a long time,” David says.

And while snowshoeing may be taking up some of his outdoor time this year, it’s not the only thing holding him back from skiing.

“The main thing that prevents me from doing it is I don’t have a lot of time and it isn’t a lot of fun when it’s way below zero — it’s a lot more fun when it’s zero or above.”

Here’s the plan: When it’s below zero, let’s just stay inside with that cocoa.