Cross country skiing Steiner style
CROSS country skiing has been an integral part of the Mansfield Steiner School curriculum since the early days of the school.
The school was founded in 1986, the same year Barb and Craig Jones established the Stirling Experience.
It was a time well before groomed trails, entry gates, seriously waterproof clothing and reasonable roads.
The equilibrium resistant skinny skis were a challenge for anyone, especially for the students from the fledgling Steiner School, who insisted on wearing their colourful, knitted creations of beanies and long, scarves to the snow.
As the small, determined group of students trudged along the trails, there would be a constant sloughing of clothing layers, as body temperatures steadily rose defying the elements.
Energy levels remained high as the gallant group repeatedly searched for any slight slope for a downhill rush, and consequent tumble at the bottom.
The trip back was always quiet as the rosy cheeked children scrounged through soggy lunchboxes for any remaining food.
In recent times, when we head up the mountain there is often a groan from our dedicated Mt Buller students, who love the thrill and exhilaration of downhill skiing.
They look enviously across at Mt Buller teeming with people and lifts aplenty for seamless ascents, but spirits rise and excitement mounts as we finally arrive at TBJ on Mount Stirling.
Cross country skiing works surreptitiously to support children’s learning.
While shuffling and gliding along the pristine trails, the skiers are developing cross lateral skills, engaging both sides of the brain, movements which cross the midline, so important for essential tasks such as reading and writing, improving coordination.
Organisational skills are quickly developed as the importance of packing water, gloves, hats and snacks can make the difference between a successful day and an uncomfortable one.
Of course, resilience, perseverance and general fitness are also the sides of benefits.
Mt Stirling is truly a winter wonderland and the total immersion in her beauty develops in all a deep appreciation, respect and love for the environment.
As one student, an avid downhill skier, remarked after a day’s skiing at Mt Stirling, that he understood the difference between the quiet, reclusive beautiful Mt Stirling and her extroverted sister, Mt Buller.
One is great fun, where you go fast and jump on lifts and Mt Stirling is like one great nature reserve where you see and hear things and notice the change in the seasons.