Our winter season is sadly coming to a close, no thanks to the warm temperatures and snow loss. However, we Nords are finishing strong- in terms of our training, results, efforts and kilometers!
A week ago concluded my fourth Junior Nationals in Soldier Hollow, Utah. This was yet another amazing Nationals experience, but also another Nationals that had severe snow problems. It’s gotten worse and worse every year. This year, we jokingly called it ‘No Snow - SoHo’ and the entire race series almost had to find a new home. There ended up being a ribbon of snow winding through the grass thanks to the huge snowmaking process and a devoted race crew. Nevertheless, Nationals are always super fun, and this year, despite the bare snow, our AVSC athletes achieved top results. This was a special year for our group of three, as all who raced brought home a medal, or more! Kate Oldham rocked the U16 females and placed top ten in two individual races. Everett Olson was on the 5th placing U18 relay team with Rocky Mountain teammates. I was ecstatic to reach my goal this year to make the Sprint A finals, taking home a sixth place medal, and also a 2nd place in the u20 relay with two Rocky Mountain teammates that I’ve skied with since we were 12. The Rocky Mountain Team overall skied really fast in SoHo with many All-American top ten finishes, and we got 2nd in the Alaska Cup rankings. Nationals was a special team bonding experience as usual, despite the deteriorating snow conditions.
This has not just been a problem in just one area in the US; it has affected competitions in all corners of the country. In 2015, nationals were in Truckee, California. It was so warm, that everyone raced in just bibs, and I was pushed onto the side of the 5 foot wide trail, my klister sticking straight to the mud. Next year in Cable, Wisconsin, the parents (mine included) desperately helped shovel snow to save the sloppy course, and our classic races were cancelled. In 2017, you might think Lake Placid would be a winter wonderland. But think again! The race had to change venues, to a repetitive multi-lap course, through water puddles. All organizers, like in SoHo, worked tirelessly to pull these races off, but the conditions were a bit of a let down. It did not feel like the winter skiing train for, but a survival slog through five inches of slush.
As you can see, climate change is definitely affecting our Nordic courses and our sport. I am really frightened for future years of Nationals, and racing in general. Nationals is a true memorable experience for Junior nordic skiers and I hope the snow conditions do not take away from that in years to come, as it becomes more difficult to find areas that have the snow conditions and staffing to host races in March.
Thanks again to all of our sponsors and donors for helping us protect our winters.