In early November, when I told my niece, Emily, who lives in Bozeman, Montana, that I was going to be in West Yellowstone for Thanksgiving; she was excited and texted back, “I cant wait to visit you in West Chillystone!” I laughed at her misnomer as I was ridin’ my mtn bike here in the warm, 50F, sun of Tahoe. While carving up the tacky dirt trail, I mused about the likelihood of having No Snow in West (it has happened before!), let alone experiencing any cold temperatures.
Fortunately for all of the athletes, 13 in all, and 4 coaches, who traveled to West Yellowstone last week, Emily was right, and i was wrong; on both accounts.
This year, at the annual West Yellowstone Ski Festival and USSA Supertour Races, I experienced the most snow; (3feet +; and all the snow came the day before, or while we were there. They had none two days before we got there), and, the coldest temps, (-17F to -21F a coupla nights in a row, with -10F the high), I have seen in my ten years of going up there for this training camp. Yowser!
However, once we got out there and you were bundled up and prepared for the cold temps, the skiing, especially Classic, was as good as it gets.
And, we did a lot of Classic skiing! With Glenn Jobe as one of the coaches, it goes without saying. To ski Classic with Glenn is like bread and butter; they just go together, so you may as well join in.
In the first days, while Coach Ben attended Toko University, Coach Jeff and Coach Glenn guided the Far West athletes thru double workouts of technique, drills, speeds, intervals, laughter, and seeing old friends, and maybe(?); meeting new ones.
It’s a pretty good life out there in West. You wake up, eat breakfast, go ski, come back, warm-up, eat lunch, create chaos, go ski, come back, warm-up, eat dinner, go see Harry Potter, check out the Festival Expo, create chaos, have team meetings, see the Wolf and Bear Discovery Center, and eventually sleep, then do it all over again for 8 days.
Thanksgiving Dinner we all sat down together, family style and enjoyed an excellent meal while Chelsea pondered the immense capacity of teenage boys to put away multiple heaping plates of food.
Oh, and we raced!
First race was postponed because of cold temps and the Timer was not there because all three of the roads meandering into West Yellowstone were closed due to blizzard conditions.
Sprint Race: In an unusual format, the race organizers held a Sprint Classic and Sprint Skate, pre-lims only, both in the same morning. Our skiers bundled up every inch of skin and raced their hardest; leaving it all out there. Everyone had a darn good race and was proud of their effort.
Next up was a distance skate race, 10km (female) and 15km (male). Far West had some great results and, some tired puppies going for their first distance race on a difficult course with a large, and very steep, uphill near the end of every lap.
The final day was a 5km (female) or 10km (male) Classic Race. Same course, same steep uphill. Only the strong and quick prevailed in this challenge. For Far West, just a few racers did all 3 races, and the rest chose 1 or 2. After all, this was a training camp, not a racing camp, and results were not a priority. (However, one result of note; Far West ‘Farm Team’ member Chelsea Holmes, is currently ranked 8th overall for women in the USSA Supertour standings, after three races. Way to GO Chelsea!) Getting good training, lots of technique, and some quality time on snow was the focus.
I think we accomplished this goal and the athletes came away tired, as expected, but motivated for the season ahead.
In the meantime, Coach Jeff approached his fears; twice!, and re-visited the Subway parking lot where he broke his arm last year. He stomped on the spot and had a team escort to the doors…
Coach Ben lost his voice but then found it a coupla days later- it was under the TV- to the disappointment of all…
And, Coach Glenn laughed his way through it all… especially because, at least once each day, he was on Classic skis…
Unfortunately for me, my niece never came to visit and, unfortunately for her, she never experienced any of this awesome trip/camp. Hopefully she, and you, can enjoy the pics.
photos by Ben Grasseschi