(I apologize if this is the wrong audience - my question is not about backcountry skiing, but it does have to do with skinning and will impact my backcountry plans.)
I'm not new to skiing, but new to skinning. I have Fritschi Eagles on an old pair of Icy Nomads with Scarpa Domina boots. I've skied this setup in-bounds before, and while I could feel a difference - more give - between this setup and my downhill gear, it skied just fine, even on groomers.
Yesterday morning, I skinned up peak 7 at Breck. The route was groomed. This was my first time skinning in-bounds; my second time skinning, ever. It took me a long time, but I didn't feel particularly tired, out of breath, etc. I figured I'd zip down to Independence Chair, then see if maybe they were loading the T-Bar yet.
As soon as I switched from walk mode to ski and tried to go anywhere, I was miserable. My calves and thighs ached. It felt like my boots were locking me into a ridiculously forward position, so that my thighs were working way too hard, while still allowing tons of forward give. I couldn't get my skis on edge. It took me forever to get down an easy blue groomer, feeling all the while like I couldn't control my skis, stopping every few turns. Toward the end of the run, I switched to walk mode, and that helped a lot with the soreness, but I still felt incapable of controlling my skis. I managed to get to the gondola and called it a day. I've never been so relieved to get off of my skis.
When I think back to my only BC day last year, a guided beginner group at Hidden Valley, I also felt awkward on the downhill, but I was using different skis with the same bindings and boots, and I thought it had more to do with just being unused to natural snow that season, unfamiliar with the tree patterns, etc.
Again, though, I've skied this setup without skinning first, and while I could tell the difference between it and a dedicated downhill setup, it wasn't a disaster like this was.
So - the dreaded question - is this "normal," at least for some people? Does it point to my muscles just not being accustomed to this particular exercise, or could there be an equipment issue at play? My calves are pretty sore today; my thighs only moderately so, but then, I haven't been on skis.
I do plan to skin more regularly and see if it improves as I do it more, but this experience really freaked me out. Any advice or reassurances would be welcome, as well as any (informed) suggestions to just suck it up and get past it.
Thanks for reading this far!