City Paper is not for tourists
Anyone paying to ski today is a sucker. In D.C., the snow is falling at a consistent clip; on the streets it’s not too slick, and in many places nicely packed. The only problem? No ski lifts.
So it didn’t surprise me to see Washingtonians skiing past my Dupont apartment all day, about two or three every hour. Two of them, Meredith Schonfeld-Hicks and Adam Gerhardstein, stopped by for beer and mac and cheese. (Full disclosure: They’re friends with my roommate. I had dinner with them once before. They’re lovely people.) They’re both experienced skiiers—Schonfeld-Hicks is participating in the 54-kilometer American Birkebeiner race in Wisconsin in a few weeks—so I asked them a few questions about skiing through the snowpocalypse.
Washington City Paper: Where did you ski today?
Meredith Schonfeld-Hicks: We left our house in Mount Pleasant and we skied past the back entrance to the National Zoo and down onto Rock Creek Parkway. And it was awesome, because there weren’t any cars—there were just other skiers and runners. So we skied all the way down the parkway, past the Kennedy Center and over to the National Mall. We saw the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the World War II memorial. And then we went downtown Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, and then down 16th Street to 17th Street and then we stopped here on 19th Street.
WCP: What kind of gear are you using?
MSH: I am skiing on Madshus skis with Fischer boots and Swix blue wax. I’m getting some great kick today.
Adam Gerhardstein: I’m using waxless skis. We’re both on cross-country skis, obviously. And I’ve been thinking about this, and there’s something I’d like to say. The city is magical today, and for three reasons: First, because this is not just any storm. Secondly, because people are out and about and they’re being nice. Third, because I have traversed the city in a way I never thought possible.
First, the reason this is not just any storm is: I’ve been to Colorado, Utah, Canada. I’ve skied in Minnesotta, in Michigan, in Vermont, and I’ve never seen anything like this. It has been snowing for over 24 hours. I shoveled this morning; it took me almost one-third of my strength, and I am very strong.
WCP: A full third?
AG: Yes. And the level of snow is approaching 20 inches. Now secondly, people are being nice. We’ve been skiing all over the city. People are smiling. They’re sort of in awe of the way the city is covered in snow. It’s awe-inspiring, and so when you go past somebody, especially when you’re wearing skis, they find it quite amusing and fun and they say, “Oh, let me take your picture,” and that’s fantastic. And there was a penguin at the White House! There was a guy dressed up as a penguin wearing a placard about a dating Web site—like a publicity stunt, and everyone was getting their picture taken with him.
MSH: And he said the best way to survive a snowstorm is to find someone you love and snuggle up with them.
AG: That’s absolutely true.
MSH: But we think skiing is a pretty good way, too.
AG: And so my final point: I traversed the city in a way I never thought possible. We skied all the way around the city, in the middle of roads that I have drove on going 50 mph. And we were not bothered by a soul. It was peaceful. It was like snowmaggeddon. The world ended for a day—in a good way. It was just like the world stopped.
WCP: What were the conditions like?
MSH: There were major drifts of snow, so the best places for skiing were in the roads where there had been attempts at plowing—-the snow was thinner so you could glide across it. There’s been a consistent snowfall throughout the day so it’s very snowy and in-your-face. We both had to wear our ski goggles or glasses. And it was very wet. But I got really excellent kick and the glide was great. So conditions were great for skiing.
WCP: What kind of interactions did you have with other skiers?
MSH: Well, I was so surprised to see so many Nordic skiers out there. It was like all these kindred spirits coming out of the woodwork. We passed a guy on Rock Creek Parkway and he said, “You know, this happens every 10 years and I’m always waiting for it.”
AG: When you go to a ski resort and you go cross-country skiing and you pass someone—there’s particular times at these resorts when it’s really snowy and you have this moment of bonding where you say, “Man, these are quite the conditions today. Snow’s really packed.” And it was like that today—like, “Hey, there’s great snow up there by the White House.”
WCP: What’s the best skiing spot in D.C. right now?
AG: I think the best conditions were on Rock Creek Parkway—they were plowing it pretty consistently so you really have to catch it at that moment.
WCP: Any skiing tips for the day?
MSH: Wear sunglasses.
Top photo by Emily Goodstein. Above: Snowshoers on 19th Street. Photo by Abra Lyons-Warren.