November turned to winter in a hurry: snow, skiing and temperatures one night near zero. Both photos, early season skiers at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, VT, USA.
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Category Archives: cross-country skiing
After a long cloudy day, the sun came out and the kids started jumping off the mini-mountain of manmade snow at the Craftsbury, VT, Outdoor Center last weekend. The guy on the bottom started out facing the other direction and in this series is en route to a 360.
The Craftsbury, VT, Outdoor Center held its first half marathon Saturday on a beautiful and challenging course that traversed 13.1 miles of dirt roads, ski trails, and single-track through the woods to the Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro. 2,000 feet of elevation gain with beer and lunch at the end. Adam Martin, a nordic skier with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (above, center) won in 1:16:42; David Sinclair, Waitsfield, VT, left, was second; Patrick Caldwell, US Ski Team (in blue), was third. US Ski Team (and GRP) skier Ida Sargent, below, won the women’s race in 1:37:05. There can’t be many half marathons that can match this one for the scenery alone, not to mention the hills and the beer. Click here for a full gallery. Click here for results.
No matter what it’s doing where you are, it’s still winter at Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec, just down the Fleuve St. Laurent from Quebec City. Four feet of snow on the ground in the last week of February. Velo d’hiver riders (below) and skiers taking advantage of the situation while they can. Hydro Quebec electric lines humming loudly in the falling snow. For more, click here for a gallery.
Well, actually it was back in early March, after the Lahti World Nordic Ski Championships. We ski toured in Lapland, northern Finland, in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Basically inn-to-inn skiing, complete with northern lights and daily saunas. The park is laced with hundreds of kilometers of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing, weaving through the low, rounded Lapland mountains called tunturi. We went on a week-long guided trip with a company called Feel the Nature/Fell Trek, made some new friends, saw some beautiful country, and ate munkki, the best donuts in the world. Because the Euro was so low and we were already in Finland, it wasn’t such a big expedition, although we were far enough north to be inside the Arctic Circle. We only saw the aurora borealis once, but it was an unforgettable night, temperature about 0 F and color dancing across the sky. Click here for a gallery/slideshow. You can use the right-click arrow to speed things up or move around in the gallery.
Top nordic skiers from around the country raced in the USSA SuperTour on Friday and Sunday at the Craftsbury, VT, Outdoor Center, which has become one of the nation’s top nordic sites over the past few years. Conditions were superb, grooming world class and the competition serious. Top, New Hampshire’s Kris Freeman leads the pack in falling snow in the 30-k classic race Friday. Freeman wears the yellow bib of the overall tour leader. Below, the lineup for the sunny, cold sprint final is reflected in former Vermonter Jennie Bender’s glasses. She now skis for the Bridger Ski Foundation in Montana and won the sprint Sunday. Below, Rebecca Rorabaugh (front) of Alaska Pacific University Nordic leads Emily Dreissigacker of Craftsbury in a sprint heat; Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess of Bend OR, in the green bib of the tour sprint leader, en route to winning the sprint; Zach Caldwell of Caldwell Sports in Putney applies wax and, bottom, Tyler Kornfeld of APU after finishing third in the sprint. Click here for a link to a gallery from both days. Info on the Craftsbury Nordic Center is here.
They don’t look worried, but Vermont Olympic nordic skiers (l to r) Ida Sargent and Liz Stephen (both cross-country), and Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee (both biathlon) held a press conference today to express their concerns about how global climate change is affecting the world and their sport. Just back from six months of competition in Europe, including the Sochi Olympics, they told of lack of snow in traditionally snowy areas and races held primarily on artificial snow and even trucked-in ice chips. A thread of the press conference — held at the Morse Farm in East Montpelier in conjunction with the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the National Wildlife Federation — was that Vermont, small as it is, can lead the way in alternate energy use as it does in winter sports. Four of the 14 members on the U.S. Olympic cross country team were from Vermont and, counting snowboarding, cross-country, biathlon and alpine skiing, there were nearly 20 Vermonters on the U.S. team, from a state with a population of 626,000. Click here for local news story.
In late January I was in the Austrian Alps for the World Masters Cross-Country Ski Championships in the Pillerseetal region, near Kitzbuhel. The landscape is spectacular and so were a lot of the masters skiers. A masters skier is anyone over 30, and the five-year age brackets continued right up to and including the 85-90 age group. In total more than 1,000 skiers from 30 countries. Largest contingent, the Russians: more than 200 skiers. The largest age group is generally those between 60 and 64, who have the time to attend and the energy to keep racing into their 60s. Scroll down, and click here for more, including Mozart duckies, racing and Salzburg. Don’t forget to click here for more!
Nordic skiing World Cup races are rarely held outside of Europe’s skiing nations, where almost every winter weekend they are watched by the kind crowds North America can only manage to turn out for events like professional football. But last weekend the World Cup sprints came to an 800-meter hairpin-turn course of manmade snow in front of the provincial parliament building in Quebec City. Americans and Canadians from across the continent, especially from northern New England, Ontario and Quebec, showed up to cheer for the teams and skiers they never get to see — not just the North Americans but a total of 150 skiers from 15 nations, from Russia, Sweden and Finland to Australia. American Kikkan Randall (Alaska), top two photos, in black, combined with teammate Jessie Diggins (Minnesota), photos below, with her game face on before the individual race and taking one of the many corners, to win the team sprint event Friday, a first for the US. In that same cornering picture, in the third black suit in the pack, is Barton and Craftsbury Vermont’s Ida Sargent.
Quebec’s local hero Alex Harvey, third photo below, leading the pack, and Devon Kershaw (Ontario), had the potential to win the team sprint, but failed after Harvey got tangled up with another skier on the tight course. Randall won the individual sprint on Saturday. Scroll down for more, including the tiny helicopter/camera drone that swooped over the course. You can watch the men’s and women’s team sprints from Quebec here. Link to some of the mini-copter footage is here.
By the way, there was not a flake of natural snow in Quebec until it snowed lightly on Saturday. Organizers hauled in an estimated 20,000 cubic meters of manmade snow to build the race course. Racers glided next to the city’s ancient stone walls and each heat started below the Porte St. Louis, built in the 1600s and rebuilt in the nineteenth century, and then followed the Grand Allée — the main street — for the first 100 yards.