Full Throttle Nordic

As any Sierra Nevada resident knows, we actually got some snow . . . in the winter. Incredible. How long did it take for people to get out and start playing in it? By my count, about 32 hours. The snow was flying on Donner Summit at midnight Friday and I arrived at the Auburn Ski Club at around 9:45AM Sunday morning. The trails were already full of skiers. There was a traffic jam at every trail junction. It was great to see the ASC junior teams, Sugar Bowl Academy, UNR Winter Sports Club, school teams from Nevada Union and Colfax, the ASC masters group, Super Sliders, and maybe a few other groups that I forgot to mention. At any given time there were maybe 30 skiers on the trails for the entire morning.

It was fun to see how much pent-up energy is out there in the Nordic community. It seems like everyone is trying to make up for lost time. We have a base to work with now and future snow dumps should have some more staying power when falling on snow instead of earth.

Git after it!

Lost Highway

Yesterday I did 8×400 meter intervals on the track at UNR after getting off work. I spend a lot of time commuting these days, so lately my workouts have been around dusk. It was dark out, but suprisingly warm. I did the intervals without a shirt on (that was a first for late January).

Here is a picture from earlier this week at the view from the Swiss Hut at Northstar XC.

I’m listening to a bunch of modern country these days, but here’s a favorite oldie of mine. I memorized the lyrics to this song when I was 22 just in case I ever needed to sing something at karaoke.

see y’all at ASC for the 10k this weekend!


oh yeah, and I can’t wait to go out for the BMT next week.

From the Sea of Cortez to the base of Diamond Peak

Well, it turns out that this was not a bad year to miss two weeks of “winter.” I spent the Christmas and New Year break in Baja California Sur, Mexico (Cabo, La Paz, Loreto, and Todos los Santos). As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, I am embarrassed to say that I had not traveled to Mexico in my life until now. Baja strikes me sort of like the Tahoe of Mexico. The cultural offerings are a little limited compared to other travel destinations, but the outdoor recreation more than makes up for it.

Thus I found myself running, biking, kayaking, and ski bounding around Mexico. My favorite spot was without a doubt Loreto. These two pictures show Loreto from the Sea of Cortez. My next trip (hopefully camping-based) is already bouncing around my head. Of course, to do it right, one needs to go in March or April when the whales are calving.

When I came back to Tahoe lots of people were skiing on snow but it was the man made kind and always at the base of an alpine resort. Such is the way of Nordies. Nothing can stop us! From the afternoon twilight training at Diamond Peak to the CNISSF opener race at Sugar Bowl’s Nob Hill run, it’s been really fun to see how dedicated the Nordic community is to the sport.

I am really excited about the upcoming weather forecast. Oddly, I am wondering how to plan the training for Incline High School with snow on the ground. Probably it will look similar to last year. I feel like I have the dryland training sort of laid out so I could just keep going on dryland for the rest of the season. But for racing puposes, it’s pretty clear that we need snow. Epic races like the Tahoe Rim Tour, Great Ski Race, and Billy Dutton Uphill will need snow to run. And it’s not a moment too soon. Kara’s point that we can always make the best of our conditions and continue training hard resonates with me. Huge swathes of “snow country” are without snow and no one can get off of competition by complaining about training conditions at the home area. Nearly everyone is coping with a poor year!

Making the Most of What You’ve Got!

If you’ve ever been to the Sierra Nevadas in the winter — particularly Truckee — or even just heard of it, you know that it’s a region infamous for one thing in particular: snow. Lots of snow. As in, storms that last for days and dump dozens of feet of the white stuff.

But this year? Basically zilch… at least so far. January has become June-uary, as the typically frigid, snow-filled days of skiing and sledding are now instead the mild, clear, even sunny days of riding and running.

Our way of life in this small mountain town has essentially been turned upside down. There’s no Nordic skiing to be found, and the downhill resorts rely on their snow-making capabilities to keep the slopes functioning and occupied. In an ‘ordinary’ year, we’d be taking face shots of powder on the alpine slopes and logging dozens of kilometers on fresh, pristine Nordic tracks. We’d have completed several twistedly ‘painful but pleasurable’ Nordic races, pushing our limits further, and getting stronger, with each sound of the start gun.

I would have made my transition from skinny-wheeled bike to skinny skis, and gotten past the initial awkward phase of lacking coordination and balance, and heaving at the tops of the hills from inefficiency. I would just be getting into my skiing ‘groove,’ and getting more and more fired up to get out there, go hard and see what I can do. As a coach, I’d be pumping with adrenaline from the days of watching as the kids made the transformation of their own into skiing form, and began to shine brightly on the race course, finding a whole new level of digging deep.

Normally, I’d have fully embraced the spirit of winter’s lazy days, cozying up by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, and baking up a storm. I’d be dressed in my warmest sweaters, down coats and hats, and Levi’s paws would be worn from the cold days of backcountry skiing. My shoveling and car scraping skills would be nearly perfected, and the muscles built up. My boots would be water-stained and wearing down from trudging through the elements. Heck, we’d probably already be complaining about how sick of the snow we are.

I have never known anything else during winter months, in my whole life. Until now.

But as it stands, none of those things can be done. It’s hard to even really acknowledge that it’s winter, as there’s no snow on the ground, a bright sun in the sky, and no Nordic skiing to speak of. But, by the calendar, it is. And with the lack of cooperation on Mother Nature’s part to sync up with the date, as we’re used to Her doing, frustration and disappointment are high. Sorrow and despair have even come in to play. And complaining has been ever-present.

I realize the implications of the lack of snow are significant in my mountain town, where entire livelihoods depend on this one season, and the snow itself. It is a total bummer that our winter has been non-existent, and undoubtedly not without consequence. As a ski coach, I am blatantly aware of this. However, as an athlete, I have learned the importance of being able to adapt.

Having no control over nature or the weather, there is literally nothing we can do about our snowless situation. Yes, we can spend thousands of dollars turning thousands of gallons of water into artificial snow where we have the capacity, but the buck stops there. As such, I’ve convinced myself that there is really no sense in complaining. Sure, we can waste away the day being stressed and disappointed and considering ourselves unlucky about what we don’t have. Or, we can make the choice to make the most of what we do have, right now. I choose the latter.

So I’m not Nordic skiing as I normally would be. But there is plenty more to do; activities I can never say I’ve done before in January. In fact, in many ways, this winter is a blessing for me as a triathlete, and I really out to be soaking up this second lease on fall training. I’ve gotten in some amazing trail runs without having to seek out lower elevation, and probably gotten in more time on my mountain bike in the last few weeks than I did in the same time period at any point last fall. The riding has been incredible, and my legs are getting strong! Yes, there are a few icy patches here and there that you have to watch out for, but who cares? We’re mountain biking in January, in Tahoe!

Not what we’d normally expect or desire, but come on, it’s pretty darn sweet nonetheless. Who knows when we’ll get to say that again. It sounds like snow is on the way this week, and all will be ‘back to normal’ here, but I for one am going to take full advantage of these last few days of snowlessness, as I’m happy to have done so far this “winter.” And I’m going to be thankful that I’m already two months ahead of where I’d normally be in terms of my riding and running, despite being behind in my skiing. I’m going to be thankful that I’ve gotten in so many fun days on the trail with good friends, and been able to be outside, loving what I do, regardless of whether or not the calendar says I should be doing it. Life is never certain, and you won’t always get what you want, so you might as well make the most of what you’ve got.

North American Biathlon Championships

Jericho, VT

It’s been a while, but I got another race start in. Wednesday Glenn and myself took a redeye to Jericho, VT for the North American Championships. Today was the first race of three. Ended up having a hard day on the range missing eight shots, but I felt good skiing. It was windy with strong gust so the majority of everyone had a challenge on the range so I’m still happy with my 7th place finish! Tomorrow is a 12.5K Pursuit race so I’ll focus on improving the range. His race went well as well but he did struggle a little on the range.

There is a little more snow here then home and it’s snowing! The roller ski loop was starting to show through the trail during the race so more snow is really going to help. The weather is going to be in the negative tomorrow. The east coast is the only place where you can experience sun, extreme cold, rain, snow, sleet, and slush! I hope a storm comes thru Tahoe get some racing this February.
Think Snow!

first snow?

Being a skier in the Far West recently hasn’t been easy. The most essential ingredient of skiing is missing and it has been for a long, long time. I run in t-shirt and shorts when I should be skiing. I rollerski when I really should be doing kilometers on snow. The whole thing seems upside down. I have to admit, I’m jealous of my ski fellows back home who have plenty of that wonderful white matter! But for the first time in a long time, I looked at the weather forecast and was sure there is something about to change. I keep my fingers crossed for next week. Beautiful mountains covered in snow under the California sun. The way it’s supposed to be! Can’t wait…

Prarie Creek Classic

Last Saturday I headed up to Sun Valley with my family to race the Prarie Creek Classic. The course goes up, and then back down, the Prarie Creek drainage about 20 minutes north of Ketchum. The dual start format was sweet because I got to start with my brother and it put a lot of people out there at the same time. It was a blast flying around two laps of 7.5 k with my bro, passing master blasters right and left. I ended up getting beat by one of them though: Eric Jensen of Idaho Nordic. He got me by one second to claim the final podium spot behind two U of Utah skiers. The snow was perfect – which is hard to believe since Ketchum has almost nothing and Boise is dry. Getting pumped for the Boulder Mountain Tour next month on those same trails!

Chuck and I with Boulder Mountains in back