Sports
7:36 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Olympic Dreams In Kansas City: Biathlon And Cross Country Skiing

Cross country trails in Shawnee Mission Park.
Cross country trails in Shawnee Mission Park.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

You will likely face two challenges if you want to try cross country skiing in Kansas City: the right weather conditions and available equipment.

Cross country skiing is considered one of the most challenging of the endurance sports. Participants use skis and poles to move across snow-covered terrain. Traditional cross country skis are long and narrow; holding on to the poles, you push with one ski and glide with the other.

Competitive events or races include the biathlon, which, in the winter, combines cross country skiing with target shooting; athletes wear .22 caliber rifles, the international standard, on their backs. It's a sport that has its roots in hunting in Scandinavian countries.

Parks, golf courses, or even snow covered streets are all popular spots for cross country skiing. But, there’s a small window in Kansas and Missouri to go cross country skiing – ideally, when there’s fresh snow. And the equipment can be challenging to find. As one sporting store clerk told me, when he said they no longer rented cross country skis, it’s “not big in this area.”

Where to go:
Kansas: Clinton State Park at 798 N. 1415 Road in Lawrence; Haskell Rail-Trail at Haskell Indian Nations University, 155 Indian Avenue P in Lawrence; Mill Creek Streamway Park at 11344 S. Millview Road in Olathe; Shawnee Mission Park at 7900 Renner Road in Shawnee; and Wyandotte County Lake Park at Leavenworth Road and 91st Street in Kansas City.

Missouri: Loose Park at 51st and Wornall, and Minor Park at Red Bridge Road and Holmes Road in Kansas City.

Cost:
Unfortunately, cross country skis are no longer available to rent in the Kansas City area. Skis can be purchased at Flatlanders Ski & Snowboard in Mission, Kan., on Craigslist and online. A set of skis start in price from $50 and up; boots, $40 and up; and ski poles, $15 and up. Or, if you're lucky, you might be able to borrow equipment from a friend.

What to wear:
Layers, layers, layers. Cross country skiing is an aerobic activity. You’ll need to wear clothing that will allow you to sweat, and also stay warm and dry. A sweater or a waterproof jacket and waterproof pants can be layered over a wicking top and bottom, and liner socks can be worn under a pair of wool or synthetic socks. Insulated gloves and a hat are also recommended. Make sure to wear sunglasses, or a visor, and apply sun protection.

Skills/preparation needed:
It's an activity people of all ages can do with minimal preparation. But cross country skiing will work your quadriceps and calves, as well as other muscle groups. Strength training for about a month before skiing will help prevent injuries and soreness. Biking, walking, swimming or rowing can also get you ready.

Warnings:
There’s a low risk for injuries with cross country skiing. But it's recommended that you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.

Who can help:
Kansas City Ski Club, a non-profit ski and snowboard club, offers trips and social and sports events.

For biathlon, some public shooting ranges in the area include Crossfire Recreational Center, LLC. in Independence, Mo.; Douglas County Rifle & Pistol Club Range, Lawrence, Kan.; OMB Guns and Indoor Range in Olathe, Kan.; and The Bullet Hole in Overland, Park, Kan.

A summer biathlon takes place the first Sunday in August in Wichita, Kan. Find out more at Run Wichita.

Find our entire series on living the Olympic dream in Kansas City at kcur.org/olympicdreams.