Nordic skates utilize cross-country ski boots and bindings.
Nordic skates utilize cross-country ski boots and bindings.

You know that joyous scene from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in which all the kids are skating on the local pond? It wasn't exactly like that for me. My skates were painful. My feet were cold. My feet were cramping. Although I grew up in Wisconsin and came to love winter sports, I just never picked up ice skating as a kid.

As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I tried again, meeting my girlfriend at the Wingra Lagoon for a romantic evening on the ice. But it's hard to be romantic when you're really, really uncomfortable.

A big part of the problem probably came from my never having decent skates. Also, my feet are flat and orthotics don't fit inside those narrow leather lace-up skates. Whatever the cause, I had pretty much given up on ice skating.

Imagine my joy when, 20 years later, that girlfriend-turned-wife came home with a pair of Nordic skates and I realized I would finally be able to join the fun.

Read the entirety of Andy Vrakas' introduction to Nordic ice skating in the March 2013 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy or subscribe, call 715/369-3331.