Inspired by the Winter Games? We all are. While it’s true that most of us will never stand on the podium with a gold medal around our neck, it IS possible to experience the athleticism of the Winter Games – at least a little bit.
We can learn to curl, compete in a biathlon, and try speed skating. We can cross-country ski, snowboard, and figure skate. And we can pretend we’re bobsledders in a 400-foot toboggan chute. It won’t be exactly like those elite athletes do, but we can still feel like champions, at least for a couple of hours.
Here are 8 ways YOU can feel like an Olympian this winter in Maine:
Learn to curl with the Pine Tree Curling Club this March and April. Based out of the Troubh Ice Arena in Portland, the club is offering learn to curl sessions on March 1, March 17, March 31, April 7, and April 14 (update: looks like they’re all full except the March 1 session). No experience necessary – club members will teach you the basics of the game, stone-throwing form, and explain what all that sweeping is about. Cost is $25.
FMI: Learn to Curl Facebook events and www.pinetreecurlingclub.com
Compete in a biathlon at Hidden Valley Nature Center in Jefferson, even if you’ve never been on cross-country skis or shot an air rifle before! The annual Liberal Cup Biathlon on March 4 is a beginner-friendly amateur event, with categories for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers. Sign up as a team or individual, and costumes are encouraged. After your race, hang out in the warming hut or by the fire and enjoy a beer from Hallowell Brewing Company and Liberal Cup Brew Pub. Cost $35 for adults, $10 for kids and students.
FMI: Liberal Cup Biathlon Facebook event and www.midcoastconservancy.org
ALSO: There are biathlons at Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway throughout the winter.
Short track speed skating
You, too, could be a short track speed skater. The Great Atlantic Speedskating Club is hosting a “Try speedskating event” Feb. 25 at Family Ice Center in Falmouth, where you’ll learn the basics (speedskates provided) and, who knows, maybe go on to win gold! Or at least have a fine time learning a new-to-you sport. Open to anyone age 8 and up. Space is limited, so be sure to register in advance. Cost is $20 for adults and $15 under 18.
FMI: Try Speedskating Event on Facebook
See photos of the Learn to Speedskate Event a couple of years ago.
Learn to ski or snowboard
Becoming a champion skier means you first have to learn how to ski (and how to get off the lift without tumbling into the snow). Nearly every mountain in Maine offers ski and snowboarding lessons, and a good lesson makes all the difference. The One-Day Learn to Ski or Snowboard clinic at Sunday River includes all equipment (skis, boots, poles), a three-hour lesson, and a lift ticket good for beginner terrain the rest of the day, so you can keep practicing. Costs $59 midweek or $89 weekends and holidays.
ALSO: See more learn to ski/snowboard packages at Maine mountains on www.skimaine.com
It’s not really bobsledding, but it’s close enough: the toboggan chute at Camden Snow Bowl. The U.S. National Toboggan Championships just happened (see photos of this year’s event), but the 400-foot toboggan chute is open on weekends and holiday weeks all winter (conditions pending, of course). Cost is $5 an hour per person. You can pile a couple of friends onto your toboggan and pretend you’re a champion bobsledder.
There are a host of places offering cross-country skiing lessons and rentals: LL Bean in Freeport, Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Bethel Village Trails in Bethel, The Birches in Rockwood, Nordic Heritage Sport Club in Presque Isle. Learning the classic style is a good place to start, but if you want to learn to ski like the athletes do, sign yourself up for a skate ski lesson. Skate skiing is decidedly more challenging than classic, but that glide looks so glorious once you have it mastered. Find skate skiing lessons ad Harris Farm in Dayton, LL Bean in Freeport, Bethel Village Trails in Bethel, Sugarloaf Outdoor Center in Carrabassett Valley.
FMI: Learn to skate ski! Where to rent, ski & take a lesson in Maine
Back-to-back triple jumps might not be in your future, but skating on the ice with a little bit of panache could be. If you’ve never skated before, take a lesson at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland, Family Ice Center in Falmouth, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Biddeford Ice Arena in Biddeford, Ice Vault in Hallowell, The Colisee in Lewiston.
If you’re serious about learning to figure skate, check out the North Atlantic Figure Skating Club.
ALSO: If you know how to skate and want to hit an outdoor rink and maybe enjoy a beverage after, this will help: Rinks & Drinks: Great places to ice skate (with hot toddies and beer close by)