Jessie Diggins to Celebrate XC Ski World Cup Victories in Hometown
According to an article in the Stillwater Gazette, Jessie Diggins is going home to a celebration of her XC ski season for the US Ski Team. Diggins, an Afton, MN native will be joined by friends, family, supporters, and XC ski fans as the Stillwater High School graduate will be celebreated as part of a welcome home reception on Monday, April 20 at Stillwater Area High School from 5:30-8 PM following her successful World Cup season as a member of the United States cross country ski team.
Diggins will be signing posters from 5:30-6:30 PM, followed by a slide presentation and stories from the race season. Among the highlights for Diggins from the past five months was a historic day in February when she captured a silver medal in the 10-kilometer race at the World Championships in Falun, Sweden. Her runner-up finish is the best-ever XC skiing result in a distance event in history for the United States. It also ended a 33-year drought since the last World Championship or Olympic distance medal for the USA, which occurred when Bill Koch captured a bronze medal in 1982.
Diggins finished with three top-five performances in World Cup races, including sprint and distance, and she is listed among the top 20 in the World Cup rankings in both distance and sprint. She also anchored the US team to a bronze medal finish in a World Cup relay. A year earlier, she captured a World Cup gold medal with teammate Kikkan Randall at the World Championships in the team sprint.
Diggins also choreographed the American men's and women's Nordic Ski team 4-minute video lip-syncing and dancing in the snow, moonwalking in ski boots, and lip-synching to "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson. Check out the US Ski Team's story and the video at: Uptown-Funk-Music-Video
A "Walk in the Woods" on the Appalachian Trail Become Movie
An AMC Outdoors Magazine article referenced the coming movie version of Bill Bryson's 1998 best selling book "A Walk in the Woods," a comical ill-fated attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT). The recent success of Reese Witherspoon in the movie "Wild" about a woman who hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail brought great popularity to that trail and the entire concept of "thru-hiking" which is an attempt at walking along the entire length of the trail.
In the past year about 2,500 "thru-hikers" attempted the AT, which runs from Georgia to Maine and a reported 640 completed the trek. The Walk in the Woods movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte is expected to increase the number of people hiking the trail to about 4,000 in 2016. Will the trail become overcrowded at overnight sites? Will it get trashed or impact the fauna and flora?
Stewardship and protection are key aspects of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which is calling for more people to "flip flop" their thru-hike experience by starting at the middle and going north before trekking the bottom half of the trail afterward. Much of the issue will be taken care of by natural selection – that is the fact that within a few hundred miles more than half of the hikers quit the trek. The word is that the first two or three weeks are the test on the more than 2,160 mile journey from Spring Mountain in GA to Katahdin, ME.
Saving the Favorite Skis
Many of us skiers have a favorite pair of skis…outdated or worn out, but still our favorite. My old pet skis are a pair of Trak Escape with Omnitrak no wax bases. These Trak skis are no longer available and they have a sandwich construction with some layers of wood and include perfect shovel stiffness providing great turnability. I use a pair of NNN-BC manual bindings on them (sort of like my friend who demanded roll-up windows for the new Jeep he ordered).
The story of these skis is many years long and I now mostly use them for downhill off track skiing when steel edges are unnecessary. I
ski up snowshoe boulevards (packed 1.5 foot wide treads on trails covered in deep snow that are packed by snowshoers) and ski down in powder on some of my favorite runs around the area. In the old days, I called this type of ski outing "up and downing." These days I often figure out ways to get a ride to the high point to avoid the uphill….honey, can you drive up to the top of Goodfellow Road?
I was sad to see upon return from one of these joyous downhill forays that a 4 X 2 inch section of base under the foot broke off leaving a ski that did not want to glide. I worried that this pair of skis would no longer be in my quiver so I tried to repair it by melting P-Tex into the base. Actually, I melted layers of P-Tex, let them cool after each layer, and scraped the area so that it matched the rest of the base. But I found that the repaired section just cracked and partially broke out while skiing, so I took the ski to get some ideas from Omer & Bob's, a local ski shop in Lebanon, NH.
The mechanic searched the thrift shops in the area to find a similar base pattern (Omnitrak) and he succeeded, but the ski he found was a different width. He cleaned the base area section where the gap existed on my ski and cut a base section from the thrift shop ski base to try and match my base pattern. While it does not perfectly match, it did fit very well and he glued it in with epoxy (see photo of the repaired ski base).
I tested the ski on my favorite run, skiing up the boulevard and turning telemark style coming back down. I'm glad to report that the ski repair passed muster and I want to pass along my gratitude to Omer & Bob's mechanic for his handy work. There are indeed more runs to take on these skis.
Weston Ski Track and the Friends of Leo J Martin Skiing (FOLJMS)
According to a newsletter from the Friends of Leo J. Martin Skiing, the skiing at the Weston Ski Track has been phenomenal this year and the multitudes of Greater Boston residents have been enjoying XC skiing at the Leo J. Martin in Wellesley, MA. And due to FOLJMS's outreach to the DCR (government owner of the property) which contracts out the winter facility, the winter ski season at the Weston Ski Track has been extended this year until April 1.
FOJMS is also delighted to report that progress has been made toward reaching the fundraising goal of $10,000, with only $1,500 left to raise. That money is going toward start-up costs as a 501(c) 3 corporation; ski programs for Boston youth; and work to improve skiable terrain at the Leo J. Martin, such as trail development by renowned trail designer John Morton. Donations can be sent to FOLJMS Treasurer Tom Simon, 16 Sterling Rd, Wellesley, MA 02482.
Among other FOLMS initiatives have been the efforts to reach out to local representatives to inform them of what an invaluable winter resource the Leo J Martin facility provides. In the coming months, the DCR will turn its attention to future plans for the facility, both as a golf course and as a ski center.
In the last two years, skiable terrain at the Leo J. Martin has been reduced by 30% and given the number and diversity of Greater Boston residents regularly using the winter facility including more than a dozen high school teams, adaptive skiers, a school-age club with more than 200 participants, veterans, inner city students, recreational skiers, racing clubs, and others - the facility is at, and arguably above, capacity. The DCR needs to not only restore lost skiing terrain but also to expand, improve, and create greater access to it. For more info see www.foljms.org
LL Bean to Greatly Expand
According to an AP story, LL Bean of Freeport, ME will open four new stores this year to be added to its existing 26 stores and a handful of outlets located from the east coast to Minnesota and Colorado. By 2020, LL Bean plans to have at least 100 stores.
Currently, the company has 5,300 year round employees doing $1.6 billion of sales in the last fiscal year. The sudden popularity of Bean's "Maine Hunting Shoe" has seen demand and sales surge with more than 450,000 pairs produced in the past year. Bean's shoemaking employment is 500 workers. It hearkens to former trends for boots such as Moon Boots, Desert Boots, and Timberland boots.
Reefer Madness in Colorado?
The National Ski Club Newsletter reported about Colorado's marijuana business quoting a state-produced analysis saying that 90% of recreational sales in mountain resort communities are to out-of-state visitors. There are 18 tour operators running "marijuana bus tours" to Colorado and probably some family visitors have traveled elsewhere due to the law, which allows marijuana sales but not smoking in public places.
The ski town breakdown:
Aspen has 5 cannabis shops. Nearby Snowmass Village has instituted a moratorium on pot shops until 2017. Breckenridge voters disallowed pot shops downtown, but there are 5 shops in Breck.
Crested Butte has 2 medical marijuana outlets and 2 recreational shops.
Durango has 3 pot shops.
Steamboat Springs has 3 shops, but has banned them from old town Steamboat and at the base of the ski area.
Telluride has issued 4 marijuana licenses compared to 3 liquor stores in town.
Vail voted to ban pot shops until the summer of 2015, but Eagle-Vail has 3 pot shops.
The Hills Have Been Alive for 50 Years
The Sound of Music movie premiered on March 2, 1965 and the 50th anniversary tribute of it is currently all over the media including the medley of songs performed by Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards show and more than a million and a half downloads of it on YouTube.
One of the most popular movies of all time, The Sound of Music was originally created as a Broadway stage musical with Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. The connection to cross country skiing is that the Von Trapp family, which is featured in the movie and stage show started the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT and it became one of the first cross country ski resorts in 1968. Today the lodge is one of the most successful resorts in the business. For a full page about the resort click Trapp Family Lodge and for a full story about the youngest of the Von Trapps, who moved to America in the 1940s, click Johannes Von Trapp.
A new touring stage production of the Sound of Music is currently being planned and is scheduled to open in LA in September 2015.
US Nordic Ski Team - Fun and Funk with Lip Sync Dance Video
The American men's and women's Nordic Ski team produced a 4-minute video lip-syncing and dancing in the snow, moonwalking in ski boots and lip-synching to "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson. Within a couple of days of airing, the video had been viewed more than 250,000 times on the team's Facebook page. Some of the lip-synching is pretty good, but the mob dancing is not exactly Thriller quality. They clearly had a great time practicing and editing. Check out the US Ski Team's story and the video at: Uptown-Funk-Music-Video
FREE Trail Pass Offer to Any Season Pass Holder at Methow Trails
The people at Methow Trails have done it again - a couple of years ago they instituted FREE skiing to anyone age 17 and under and now they are offering a FREE trail pass to any seasonpass holder from any Nordic or Alpine ski area in the US or Canada! Methow Trails in eastern Washington has created an offer to encourage snow sports enthusiasts to come and discover the beautiful northwest. Beginning February 17, the Methow Valley ski trails invites ski season pass holders from any alpine or Nordic ski area in North America to join them for a day on the trails for FREE. Methow Trails are open and continue to provide great cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking on 120 miles of trails in and around Winthrop, WA.
This may be the first offer of its kind in ski industry history. Ski season pass holders (alpine or Nordic ski area passes) simply need to stop into the Methow Trails office at 309 Riverside Avenue, Winthrop, WA during normal business hours, show a valid 2015 season pass from any alpine or Nordic ski area in the US or Canada and they will provide you with a ticket to ski for free, for the day, on the Methow Valley cross country ski trails. This offer is good for the remainder of this ski season for one pass, per person for one day of skiing this season.
For accommodations while visiting Methow Valley consider Sun Mountain Lodge. Methow Trails is a non-profit organization that operates and maintains North America's largest cross country ski area with over 120 miles of perfectly groomed trails where kids 17 and under ski free everyday. The Methow Trails Nordic system also has selected trails open and available to fat biking and snowshoeing.
Love, Presidents, and Powder! Celebrate the snow during Valentine's Day and President's Week!
Many cross country ski resorts have special celebrations in February for Valentine's Day and President's Week. Check with your local area to see how the cross country ski resorts are honoring love, presidents, and powder in February. Here are some examples:
At Lapland Lake XC Ski & Vacation Center in Northville, NY the Sweetheart Snowshoe Tour is scheduled for the night of February 14th with a special menu dinner and dessert followed by a gently paced snowshoe tour with a stop by a lakeside campfire to roast s'mores. The dinner starts at 5:30 PM and the guided tour happens at about 6:30-8:00 PM. This is for people older than age 12. Bring your own headlamps because there is limited availability for loaners.
At Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center in Gorham, NH the Penguins & Polar Bears Ski Camp for Kids on February 16-18 at 9:30-11:30 AM with a program for kids aged 6-11 (Penguins 6-8 and Polar Bears 9-11). Led by Ski School Director / Olympian Sue Weymss has taught and coached cross country skiing for more than 20 years to students of all ages and has worked with kids at Great Glen Trails ensuring they have fun on snow while learning how to improve their skiing. The younger kids play games such as ski ball, freeze tag and capture the flag while the older kids go on scavenger hunts, ride the ski skooter and more. There are single day or two-day options and prospective camper parents should call to register.
Great Glen also has the evening Starlit Snowshoe Tour, morning Ski with a Naturalist, and Snowcoach Tours up the Mt. Washington Toll Road. See the website for details.
Resort Reviews on HighOnAdventure.com for Royal Gorge and Woodstock Inn
For an in-depth HighOnAdventure.com article on Royal Gorge Ski Resort in Soda Springs, CA by Larry Turner click: http://www.highonadventure.com/Hoa01dec/Royalgorge/royalgorge.htm
For an in-depth HighOnAdventure.com article on Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, VT by Roger Lohr click: http://www.highonadventure.com/hoa15jan/roger/woodstock.htm
Skate Uphill Tips; Avalanche Awareness for Snowshoers; Hydration/Stretching
Are you like many skiers who blame the struggle to climb hills on a lack of fitness? Of course, fitness does play a role in your ability to climb hills without fatiguing. However, your TECHNIQUE usually plays a MUCH greater role. Fortunately, you only need to focus on 4 principles to become a hill climbing beast despite your fitness level. For a video of tips click "The 4 Elements of Uphill Skate Skiing."
Click this SnowshoeMag.com article about Avalanche Awareness for Snowshoers.
Click this SeniorsSkiing.com article about Hydrating and Stretching.
Ski Heart Strong at Jackson Ski Touring Center
Jackson Ski Touring Center is hosting the Ski Heart Strong program with the American Heart Association to get people out this winter and at the same time raise awareness and promote physical activity and heart-healthy living.
The pledge fundraiser program runs in Jackson, NH between January 14 and February 14 and it is open to cross country skiers or snowshoers. Participants would register at Jackson Ski Touring Center or on-line. There's a fee to participate of $45 for an individual and $165 for a team of 4. Each registrant would get a t-shirt, one day trail pass, and a goodie bag. There will be a drawing for raffle prizes for participants, too. Time spent on the trails is charted and pledges are gathered for the time or by the kilometer. More information at email@example.com or 603-383-9355.
Fat Biking Now Offered at Mont-Sainte-Anne
Fat biking has been added to the Mont-Sainte-Anne's Winter Activities roster with 11 km of trails especially groomed for fat biking open 7 days a week from 10:30 AM to 4 PM at Mont-Sainte-Anne Cross Country Centre located 7 km east of the Alpine Ski Centre in Beaupre, Quebec.
Fat biking lovers can ride at Mont-Sainte-Anne on three daily groomed and exclusive trails including Le Ruisseau Rouge, La Marie-Josee and the Sprint Trail. Departures and arrivals will take place at the Cross Country Centre Main Lodge.
The daily trail rates are $11 for 18-64 y/o; $10 for 13-17 y/o and Senior 65 y/o +; $25 for families. Two fat bikes are available for rental at the Cross Country Centre's Sports Alpins Shop for $55 per day plus tax. It is recommended that you check the trail conditions before you go.
The Reception on the Trails Is Reportedly Very Good
One of the duties that comes with editing a travel website is the acceptance of occasional invitations - so after receiving an invite from the Woodstock Inn & Resort (in central Vermont) my wife and I decided to answer the invitation to experience the Romantic Excursion Package. The weekend included 2 nights of accommmodations, meals, XC skiing along the babbling Kedron Brook on groomed trails behind the inn at the Woodstock Nordic Center; joining a guide on a snowshoe outing to the Mt. Tom Cabin on Saturday night for an exquisite 4-course dinner prepared by the inn's head chef; massages in the plush Spa; and on Sunday morning snowboarding at the inn's alpine ski area Suicide Six while my wife went to the Racquet & Fitness Club for a yoga session. She's in the photo out on the trails obligatorily answering a call from our daughter. Having all that fun was a tough assignment, but we survived.
SIA Snow Show Reflections on Nordic Skiing
With the SIA Snow Show in Denver coming to a close here are some reflections about the Nordic ski business:
Brands are introducing features that allow for going between conventional trail cross country to backcountry skiing. Minimizing weight and maximizing performance are also top of the list - using carbon and other lightweight, but strong, materials to shave off ounces and increase stiffness.
To address the lifestyle interest in cross country skiing, we are seeing more progressive colors being introduced by the clothing suppliers. Bright colors as well as muted color ranges are becoming more mainstream with neon highlights. Waxless technology continues to be refined for better performance across the classic ski product range eliminating the need for kick wax, streamlining the pre-ski process and get on the snow quicker.
"With the participation growth of over a million skiers in the last 2-3 years (in 2013, the SIA Participation Study show 3,307,000 XC skiers in the US), we are seeing more alpine retailers stocking cross country gear. Their customers are asking for it and the suppliers are actively creating complete equipment packages to accommodate this need," commented Reese Brown, SIA Nordic Director. For the full story, click the SIA Snow Show.
January is Learn to Ski Month
January is Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month, and there are a variety of learn-to deals available for anyone who has ever had an interest in trying a new snowsport or improving their skills. For example, during the month of January ski areas across New Hampshire will encourage people who have never skied or snowboarded before to embrace winter and try something new.
As part of the Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month celebration, six cross country ski areas are offering special packages for first-time skiers. The cross country package includes a trail pass, first-time lesson and rentals for $19, and is available at Bretton Woods Nordic Center, Granite Gorge XC, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, Gunstock XC, Jackson Ski Touring Center, Loon Mountain XC, and Windblown XC.
Future skiers and riders interested in the January offer in New Hampshire should go to SkiNH.com's Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month webpage to find links to each resort's program. Specials start on January 2 and guests should reference each resort for lesson times, how to register, and more.
Active Maine Project Offers Nordic Program Across the State
The Active Maine Project Winter Nordic Program, previously known as Arooskis, is designed for any adult interested in getting outside and getting active on XC skis during the winter season. The program focuses on learning and improving XC skiing technique, and for those interested, improving fitness for recreation or competition. The program serves as just one of the offerings of the Active Maine Project, which is focused on connecting adults with a lifestyle inclusive of a number of active, outdoor pursuits throughout the entire year.
Participants in the program have the opportunity to regularly work with Maine Winter Sports Center instructors to develop fitness, improve ski technique, and share their love of the outdoors.
Dates, Times & Locations:
Fort Kent - Tuesdays, 6 PM @ Fort Kent Outdoor Center, 1/20 – 2/10
Presque Isle - Thursdays, 6 PM @ Nordic Heritage Center, 1/22 – 2/12
Bangor - Thursdays, 6 PM @ Bangor Municipal Golf Course, 1/22 – 2/12
Waterville - Tuesdays, 6 PM @ Quarry Road Rec Area, 1/20 – 2/10
Farmington - Wednesdays, 6 PM @ Titcomb Mtn Trails, 1/21 – 2/11
Madison - Mondays, 6 PM @ TBD 1/26 & 2/2 (only two sessions)
Auburn - Tuesdays, 6 PM @ Auburn Nordic Ski Trails, 1/20 – 2/10
Nordic Partnership Program Offers Discounts at Select Eastern Ski Areas
The 2014-2015 Nordic Partnership Program was introduced by Garnet Hill Lodge, whereby season pass holder skiers are encouraged to visit "Partner Centers" while traveling this winter. This is one of the largest programs (12 ski areas) that gives skiers such a reciprocal discount among ski areas.
When skiers visit and present their season pass from one of the other participating centers on the list they'll get a 50% discount on a single day pass at the center that they are visiting.
The list of participating ski areas includes:
VT: Kingdom Trails
NH: Dexter's Inn Trails, Gunstock XC
Quebec: Ski De Fond Mt. Tremblant
Skiing to Institute "SafeSport" to Combat Abuse
The U.S. Olympic Committee has latched on to the SafeSport program and Tiger Shaw, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, sent out a personal email encouraging all to "actively promote SafeSport principles."
The SafeSport program aims to recognize a variety of types of misconduct in sport, build a strategy to help ensure athlete well-being, and be prepared to take action to stop misconduct before it becomes a problem. The program will confront child sexual abuse, bullying, hazing and harassment, and other types of emotional, physical or sexual misconduct.
This is a serious issue to all sports, and skiing has been aggressive in implementing measures to safeguard young athletes, having mandated criminal background checks for all coaches and officials. Ski team alumna Nina Kemppel was the driving force of the USOC SafeSport task force responsible for creating the National Center for SafeSport which – when launched in 2015 – will investigate and adjudicate claims of abuse in any and all Olympic sports.
Kemppel's working group determined sexual abuse is a critical issue within our society and therefore within sport. "Current statistics show that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. … It is generally agreed many of these incidents are not reported or documented."
Because coach and athlete often develop personal relationships, substantial barriers to reporting incidents exist; and because these relationships are in a physical environment, the opportunity for abuse is large.
Nina Kemppel is a former American cross country skier, who competed from 1992 to 2003 and at four Winter Olympics.
Bohart Ranch in Bozeman MT Sold to Local Biathlon Club
According to a story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the Bridger Biathlon Club in Bozeman, MT announced agreements to buy the Crosscut Ranch and the Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center in Bridger Canyon to create a 500-acre Nordic ski venue. The organization signed a 3-year lease and purchase agreement with Jackson Financial Group, which acquired the 259-acre Crosscut Ranch at auction last March.
The club formed in Bozeman last fall plans to raise $10 million by November 2017 to complete the purchase of the properties and make some upgrades. A new biathlon range has been installed at Bohart Ranch and about 30 km of Nordic ski trails are planned.
The Crosscut Ranch was operated as a Nordic ski facility from 1982 to 1987. Jean MacInnes owner of the operation at Bohart Ranch said she is pleased to be handing over Bohart's legacy to the Bridger Biathlon Club and that she is confident the club will carry on Bohart's dedication to accessible and affordable cross country skiing in the community. Bohart will donate grooming efforts on the Crosscut Ranch this winter. A spokesman for the club stated that the deal will result in a world class training facility for biathlon commenting that the facility located in Bozeman, which is a ski town in a hook-and-bullet state, is a natural fit.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters Plans to Opens New Trail and Master Icy Snow Conditions
The Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon, MI will open a new snowshoe trail this winter called the Aspen Wilderness Trail. It is projected to be about 5 km in length and leads through very tall Norwegian pine trees, and Aspen, Maple and Oak forests before heading across the Trappers Cabin Trail to a primitive lowland of ancient pines. The trail is an authentic wilderness experience and it is well marked with special snowshoe trail markers.
In other news from the Headquarters, they have acquired a machine to transform hard packed ice-covered trails into beautiful skiable snow in one pass. Bob Frye head chef and guru at the Cross Country Ski Headquarters said, "This new carbide-tipped ice power tiller has teeth that will till frozen boilerplate snow into a surface that is soft and malleable, which enables us to set beautiful tracks and snow comb for skate skiing without a problem."
Passport Programs Introduce Skiing to Students
The ski industry has learned from research that a great age for kids to start skiing is in grades 4-6 in school. So there are 11 states across the USA that put together programs to encourage 4th-6th graders. Most of these programs are alpine ski-oriented (for the full list click Learn to Ski Kids 4 Free programs) and there are three states that offer cross country skiing in their school program offers. They are:
New Hampshire – SkiNH has the Snowsports Passport program, which offers 4th and 5th graders free trail passes for 1 time at each of the association's Nordic ski areas and there are other discount offers on lessons and equipment. The processing fee for the program is $35. For details click www.SkiNH.com. A percentage of sales of the Snowsports Passport is donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire.
Michigan – The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association has the Cold is Cool Passport program, which offers 4th and 5th graders free trail passes. For details click Michigan Snowsports. There is a $15 fee for the program and an adult who pays for skiing must accompany the kids. An application must be completed and there are discount offers for products at ski shops while some of the ski areas offer special rates for rental equipment and lessons.
Maine – WinterKids offers 5th, 6th and 7th graders free and reduced rates, which vary at the different participating ski areas. The program extends to snowshoeing, ice skating, and dogsledding. For details click WinterKids. Participating ski areas include Carter's, Fort Kent Outdoor Center, Nordic Heritage Sports Center, Pineland Farms.
Nordic Center at the 2015 SIA Snow Show
The SIA Snow Show was held in Denver, CO at the Colorado Convention Center on Jan 29 – Feb 1. The Nordic Center exhibit was created at the Show to give Nordic buyers and those new to the category an exclusive preview of apparel, equipment, accessories and technologies specific for the cross country and snowshoe experience while learning how to market, merchandise and sell the sports.
Chris McCullough of Madshus said, "Any opportunity for the Nordic community to come together with a shared focus for growing the sport and raising awareness for the full breadth of Nordic ski participation is a huge plus for us all. We're all really supportive of the return of this Nordic Center exhibit.
Participating product suppliers in the Nordic Center include Alpina Sports Corp., Atomic USA, Inc., Crescent Moon Snowshoes, Endurance Enterprises, Fisher Skis US, Madshus, One Way Sport USA, Rossignol, Salomon USA, Swix Sport USA, Inc. and TOKO.
After the SIA Snow Show, some of the XC ski gear was tried on the snow at the Nordic Demo at Copper Mountain on February 2-3. The Cross County Ski Areas Association is joined by XCSkiResorts.com and other industry media as media sponsors of the SIA Snow Show Nordic Center. These events are trade-oriented and are not open to the public.
Gatineau Park Reservations and New Prices Announced
The Gatineau Park in Chelsea, Quebec is one of the largest North American trail systems (250 km, 150 km groomed) for XC skiing (classic, skating, backcountry), snowshoeing, and winter hiking and it is open from Nov 15 - Mar 31. Winter lodging reservations at campsites and/or accommodations can be made on Nov 1. Check the website for more info about day shelters, cabins, ready-to-camp units, yurts, campsites, and 4-season tents.
The Adirondack Ski Touring Council and Bark Eater Trails Alliance in the Lake Placid, NY area have a new operational structure now doing business as ASTC. A more formal committee structure has been devised so that the committees will be composed of a member of the Board of Directors plus some regular members of the organization. This will permit more of the membership to be directly involved without the governing board becoming too large and cumbersome. These committees set priorities for trail construction and maintenance, organize fundraising activities, generate publicity and keep track of the store of tools.
The Methow Valley Sports Trails Association in Winthrop, WA has become Methow Trails and the website is www.MethowTrails.org
Canmore Nordic Centre Opens Trails First
Canmore Nordic Centre in Alberta, Canada opened 2.2 km of groomed trails at the centre this week (mid October). The Frozen Thunder Trail is covered with machine-made snow. The early trail access is used for team and athlete training on Monday-Friday from 9 -12 and then open to the public from noon until 5 PM. The weekends will be open all day to any XC skiers who want to get in some early season skiing.
According to Sue Taylor, Canmore Experience Supervisor, all of the Canmore Nordic Centre facilities will be in operation during the early season including the Day Lodge, Fresh Trax Café, wax rooms and gym. A special pass covering the period of October 18 – November 14 is available for $75 or the daily skiing trail fee is $10. Rentals and lessons are available via Trail Sports, the service provider at the centre. Access to the trails by regular Canmore Nordic Centre season pass holders begins on November 15 and does not include the early season trail fees.
For a story about snowmaking at XC ski areas see the most recent article entitled Snowmaking Becomes Imperative at XC Ski Areas.
John Caldwell Blasts Dartmouth College for Unskiable XC Ski Trails
John Caldwell, often referred to as the father of US Nordic skiing wrote the first American text on how-to Nordic ski in 1964, now in its eighth printing. Caldwell coached three Winter Olympic Teams and he lives near Putney, Vermont. And he wrote a letter to the editor that was published this morning in the Valley News regarding the trails at his Alma Mata in 1950 Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.
One of Caldwell's LTE quips said "some people describe the trails at Oak Hill as unskiable." He decried the necessity of the Dartmouth Nordic Ski Team having to travel more than an hour and 40 minutes to race at its own Carnival, which has already been moved to Craftsbury Outdoor Center. He pleaded for Dartmouth to install snowmaking on its cross country ski trails and said that his request for help sent to the college's president, dean, and athletic director seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
For a story about snowmaking at XC ski areas see the most recent article about Snowmaking Becomes Imperative at XC Ski Areas.
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation Announces New Leadership & Programs
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in NH has announced that Breanne Torrey, who has been with the organization for six years and has held the positions of Head of Ski Patrol and Director of Operations, has been named the Foundation's new Executive Director. She is the first woman in this role and follows former Executive Director Thom Perkins, who retired in the spring of 2014 after 38 years with the organization.
In addition to Torrey's appointment, Andy Inkell, who has been in charge of grooming for nearly 20 years, has been named Head of Field Operations. After serving the Foundation as Office Manager for four years, Raetha Stoddard has been named Director of Public Relations. In this new role, she will also continue to handle office management duties.
In addition to this new leadership, Jackson Ski Touring Center is now a National Ski Patrol (NSP) Facility. The new affiliation means guests have highly trained rescue personnel available to assist them if needed.
Additional programs will also be offered this year: Jackson Ski Touring is partnering with the American Heart Association (AHA) for a "Ski Your Heart Strong" Fundraiser. To participate, skiers will set a goal based on the number of hours they will ski and raise pledges for the AHA. Registration includes a free day pass and a "Ski Your Heart Strong at JXC" t-shirt. A kickoff GO RED event will be held on January 17, 2015.
Due to growing interest in snowshoeing, private snowshoe tours will be offered. Guests can explore the more than 45-mile snowshoe trail system with a local naturalist. Tours are geared toward guest needs and last about two hours. Advance reservation is needed with a minimum of two guests and the cost is $40 for the outing.
A new Friday Sliders group for beginners will be added to the schedule. This group gives novice skiers a chance to ski with a member of the ski school, learn about the terrain and gain new techniques while enjoying the company of other skiers. The beloved Friday Gliders group will also continue to meet to ski and socialize.
Research Shows that Hiking Makes You Happier
In a recent Outside.com article, it was reported that British and American scientists have published new research showing that nature walks help us combat stress while boosting mental well-being.
Researchers from the University of Michigan and Edge Hill University in England evaluated 1,991 participants in England's Walking for Health program, which hosts nearly 3,000 walks per week for more than 70,000 regular participants. They found that the nature walks were associated with significantly less depression in addition to mitigating the negative effects of stressful life events and perceived stress. The findings were published in the September issue of "Ecopsychology."
Sara Warber, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and senior author of the study, said that the large sample was a defining factor. "We observed behaviors of a large group, in which some chose to walk and some chose not to, instead of us telling them what to do," she said. "After 13 weeks, those who walked at least once a week experienced positive emotions and less stress."
According to Warber, it is recommended that walking outside in nature at least three times a week to experience benefits. Short, frequent jaunts are more beneficial than long, occasional walks. While stress isn't ever going to go away, it is important to have a way to cope with it, and walking in nature is a great coping mechanism with benefits that are more than just physical.
Ellen Chandler Hired to Head Bretton Woods Nordic Center
The Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, NH has announced the appointment of Ellen Chandler as director of the Nordic Center. Drawing on 30 years of experience with travel and recreation outfits in New England, Chandler oversees marketing, operations and development for the Nordic Center, one of the largest groomed XC ski centers in the nation.
Projects on Chandler's plate for the 2014-2015 season include the development of an instructional terrain park and the addition of terrain features for athletic skiers to a series of trails. Chandler is well acquainted with the resort and the region, having taught Nordic skiing at Bretton Woods. She was an NCAA All-American cross-country skier during her senior year at Williams College in MA, and continues to enjoy racing in recreational competitions. Chandler earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.
A marketing and sales consultant focused on recreation, events and apparel, Chandler developed her skills at ski areas throughout the state, including Attitash, Wildcat, Mt. Sunapee and Cannon Mountain. She also worked as a consultant for the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, and as national field marketing manager for Stonyfield Farm, the nation's largest organic yogurt producer.
Born and raised in Laconia, N.H., Chandler's passion for competitive skiing traces to her youth, when she belonged to the Gunstock Nordic Federation in Gilford, N.H. She has been a firm believer in the importance of ski clubs ever since, and currently skis with the Ford Sayre Ski Club in Lyme Center, NH and the ski group of the Cambridge Sport Union in Boston. She is also a director of the New England Ski Museum in Franconia, NH, and a past president of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson, NH.
Canmore Nordic Centre Gets Summer Snowstorm and Plans October Opening
There's snow in them hills in early September at the Canmore Nordic Centre in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. A late summer snowstorm hit Canmore, Alberta at the provincial park, which was the site where many XC ski events were held in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
While this early snow is incredible for a cross country ski area, the Canmore Nordic Centre, which is about an hour west of Calgary, recently announced an expected opening on October 18, which will certainly make it the first cross country ski area to offer skiing on groomed trails in the western hemisphere. While the length of skiing on the Frozen Thunder Trail is not guaranteed, protective sawdust during the off season and early season snowmaking will make the snow cover on the trail available.
Sue Taylor, the Experience Supervisor at Canmore said that after it becomes cold and a week of snowmaking they expect to open about 2 km of groomed trails at the centre. The early trail access will be offered to team and athlete training on Monday-Friday from 9 -12 and then open to the public from noon until 5 PM. The weekends will be open all day to any XC skiers who want to get in some early season skiing. According to Taylor, ski teams including the US Nordic Team are already scheduling some early season training at the centre.
All the Canmore Nordic Centre facilities will be in operation during the early season including the Day Lodge, Fresh Trax Café, wax rooms and gym. A special pass covering the period of October 18 – November 14 is available for $75 or the daily skiing trail fee is $10. Rentals and lessons are available via Trail Sports, the service provider at the centre. Access to the trails by regular Canmore Nordic Centre season pass holders begins on November 15 and does not include the early season trail fees.
Dave Carter to be Inducted in the Maine Ski Hall of Fame
According to an article in the Oxford Hills Sun Journal, Dave Carter, who passed away earlier this year, is one of eight skiers being inducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in the fall. Carter passed away March 2 after a battle with cancer. He was 65.
Carter, who will be inducted at a banquet at Lost Valley in Auburn, ME on Oct. 24, was a pioneer in the field and his wife, Anne, will accept the award on his behalf.
Carter's crowning achievement in the field was passing on his passion to get others, especially children, to take up the sport. To this end, he began an after-school program in School District 17 that ran from 1985 to 2005. Close to 100 children participated in the program each winter.
For the full story click the Dave Carter story on the XCSkiResorts.com Personalities Page.
New Flights into Jackson Hole
New jet non-stop service to Jackson Hole, WY will be offered from 13 cities for the 2014-15 season. A $30.6 million expansion project at the state's busiest airport in Jackson that will triple capacity is expected to be complete in October. The region has incredible backcountry skiing, a great town, and one of the best lift-served alpine ski resorts.
United Airlines will have new flights from Washington Dulles and increased service from Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. United flights from Newark and Denver will continue, and Delta service from Los Angeles Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis will remain the same as last winter. Delta flights from Atlanta will be slightly adjusted and American Airlines will continue to fly in from Dallas Fort Worth. Accommodations at the Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch.
Tahoe Donner Breaks Ground on New Center Facility
With recent agency approvals, Tahoe Donner Association had a groundbreaking ceremony in early June in Truckee, CA and began construction for the new Cross Country Ski Center. Staff and supporters celebrated the long-awaited opportunity for overdue improvements at the new Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center and parking lot, which are designed to improve operational and energy efficiencies, while implementing necessary protections to natural resources.
Service will be enhanced for the summer and winter operations, school teams, young children and educational programs, rental equipment operation, food and beverage service, and a public locker room.
The Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center in the Euer Valley offers more than 100 kilometers of trails groomed daily for diagonal striding, skating, and snowshoeing on scenic trails, challenging peaks, and gentle rolling hills. During the summer season the Cross Country Ski Center building accommodates an equestrian center, Bikeworks, and Day Camp activities.
During the construction of the new Cross Country Ski Center this summer, Bikeworks will be temporarily located at the Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area. Equestrian operations have been deferred during construction and will resume June 2015, conditions permitting. Complete access to cross country ski trails will be available, weather permitting, along with limited XC ski facilities operations in 2014-2015, even if within temporary structures as necessary.
Tahoe Donner is one of America's largest homeowner's associations, with nearly 6,500 properties and 25,000 members enjoying over 7,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada.
North Cascades Basecamp for Sale in Washington
The North Cascades Basecamp is a lodging facility (European guest house/lodge style) in Mazama, WA in the Methow Valley that has catered to cross country skiers for the 30 years and is now for sale. For the listing click Methow Blue Sky.
New Hampshire Skier Visits for Last Winter
http://www.methowbluesky.com/255-lost-river-rd-98833-mazama-wa-648591-for-sale-mls.html Ski NH, the association of ski areas in the state reported the skier visits for last winter. At alpine ski areas there were 2,272,826 skier visits, which is a decrease of .2% compared to the previous year and 3.5% above the 10-year average.
The cross country skier visits at the 17 SkiNH member XC ski areas were 147,259. This represents a 2.9% decline from the previous year and 10.4% above the 10-year average.
XCSkiResorts.com commends SkiNH for tallying the cross country skiing statistics (particularly the 10-year average to put the stats in perspective) and for marketing the sport, too. We wish more states did it too.
In short, January weather was problematic in NH as it featured both meltdowns and cold temperatures, which impacted the 2013-14 winter stats. Half of the December holiday and most of February were stellar and that carried the winter for XC ski areas.
Keep in mind, the skier visits only tally statistics at the 17 commercial XC ski areas and do not keep track of the total number of cross country ski outings, which is estimated to be about 4-5 times the number of paid skier visits. The total number of outings would include skiing in parks, on ungroomed trails, on golf courses, and so on.
Plans to Reopen The Balsams in Northern NH
A recent North Country Chamber of Commerce presentation described the 1st phase of a $100 million investment in the reopening of The Balsams in northern NH by 2016 to become a world class resort with golf, alpine and XC skiing, ATV riding, and weddings. The Balsams hotel closed a few years ago after changing ownership a couple of times and it had become a tired grand old hotel outside of Colebrook, NH. Les Otten formerly of Sunday River Ski Resort and the American Skiing Company, is one of the investors in the project. After a debt crisis caused the American Skiing Company to succumb, Otten invested in the Boston Red Sox and then some other businesses in Maine, where he lives.
Mt. Everest Accident & Aftermath
The April 18, 2014 accident on Mt. Everest at the Khumbu Icefall area occurred somewhere between the 17,600 and 19,500 foot elevation where 25 men were hit by massive falling ice. The area has been unstable due to the warmer Earth. There were 16 Sherpa deaths reported in the accident. The result is that the Nepalese Sherpas, who are responsible for the equipment portage for the treks to the summit are on strike unless the government meets 13 demands including an increase in insurance coverage and taking better care of sherpas disabled on previous expeditions.
According to various stories including the ExpeditionNews.com, there have been 6,200 climbers that have reached the summit of Everest, now at a cost of $50,000-90,000 each. The Sherpas, who lead and prepare the way and carry the load (oxygen, food, supplies) for the International climbers receive $2-8,000 per season for their precarious labor. The historical cost of these summit attempts includes 250 lives. Here's a blog story in the New Yorker by Jon Krakauer, author of the famous book about Everest "Into Thin Air": New Yorker.com - Everest
Here's a video about the Sherpas called "Last Minutes On Everest"
XC Ski Equipment Sales Report
The 2013-14 snowsports sales data from SIA RetailTrak is in for last season showing $3.6 billion in snowsports product sales, which is up 4% in units and 7% in dollars. Inventories are cleaner so things are looking good for 2014-15 in the business. There were record sales for apparel and accessories related to the cold weather. Equipment sales were the highest since 2010-11, which was one of the snowiest years across most of North America in memory. Internet sales continue to surge rising from $808 million last year to $867 million this year (7% increase). This good news looks even better when considering the draught in California, which negatively impacted snowboarding statistics and other snowsports meccas such as the Tahoe region and Mammoth Mountain.
Nordic ski equipment sales were up 15% in units and 14% in dollars to $41 million. The women's Nordic equipment category boomed to $6 million, which was a 32% increase in units and a 28% increase in dollars.
Saga of Man Dying of Natural Causes While XC Skiing, A Dog, & A Helicopter Crash
On the first weekend in May, a Golden Retriever named Buddy stood guard over the body of his master, an 81-year old man, who died while cross country skiing at Lizard Head Pass near Telluride, CO. The dog guarded the body while keeping coyotes at bay until searchers arrived. A helicopter involved with the search crashed at 10,000 foot elevation but both the pilot and sheriff's deputy survived. The man named Robert Blake of Corrales, NM died from natural causes while skiing. He was reported missing and the search ensued. Blake and Buddy were constant companions according to a friend. By Sunday, Buddy was back at home probably grieving for his old friend.
Vasa Pathway Group Debates Fat Biking in MI
A story on Interlochen Public Radio about a meeting regarding fat biking on the Vasa Pathway cross country ski trail in MI was attended by almost 200 people, who filled a room at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had already received 750 emails from both sides on the topic.
The meeting tone was friendly and cooperative throughout. Concerns were shared about the safety of sharing the trail between bikers and skiers, but DNR officials say there have been no accident reports. Some skiers had started an online petition to ban the bikes, citing safety and damage to the trail as concerns but DNR officials said neither skiing or biking damages the Vasa. More than half of the 25 or so people who spoke suggested bikes not be used on the existing ski trails.
Officials are weighing how—and if—the bikes should share the trails with skiers. The DNR across the state is watching this decision, but they won't take a one-size fits all approach
The divided crowd seemed to unite when an unlikely duo spoke. Skier Mark Esper, who is president of North American Vasa race stood to speak alongside Glen Ruczynski, a past president of Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association. They said that people are ready to build a new trail for fat tires and fast. It was agreed that volunteer bikers and volunteer skiers were willing to go out and start doing what's necessary to make this happen in time for next year. Maybe an entire system won't be built in one year, but a good start on a system can get started.
The informal group of fat-tire bikers, skiers and TART trail representatives was so persuasive, the DNR decided to let them form a committee to help them take the next steps.
New XC Skiing Instructional Model Under Consideration
There's been recent discussion between PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors and USSA (United States Ski and Snowboard Association) regarding the Cross Country (XC) Skiing Technical Model of instruction.
The six elements of the PSIA XC skiing instructional model represent the "what" of XC skiing. These elements include skills, stance, movements, timing, power, and continuous forward motion. The skills for push off, weight transfer, and glide are the fundamental aspects of what XC skiers do to create "continuous forward motion."
Common terms used to clarify each of the PSIA skills include:
Push off - wax set, edging, and weight transfer;
Weight transfer - moving from ski to ski;
Glide - pole recovery, arm return, and foot return.
The USSA performance triangle represents the "how" of XC skiing performing the skills by blending the:
Fundamental athletic stance - flexed ankles and knees, rounded back and shoulders, core over base of support;
Fundamental movements - rotary, flexion and extension, and speed;
Timing - to coordinate the movements while applying Power (force and speed) to create "continuous forward motion."
Will this make teaching XC skiing or learning to XC ski any easier? Who knows, but it makes sense to continue to refine instructional models if it helps more people to attain a higher level of enjoyment more quickly.
US Secretary of the Interior to XC Ski & Snowshoe at Crater Lake
US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell plans to kick off the annual National Park Week from the rim at Crater Lake in OR on Saturday, April 19. Jewell plans to go XC skiing with Crater Lake National Park's volunteer ski patrol and then accompany a Eugene school group on an educational snowshoe walk.
The National Park Service's annual National Park Week begins Saturday and runs through April 27. Fees will be waived Saturday and Sunday at Crater Lake and 132 other national parks across the country. The remaining 268 national parks don't charge entry fees, according to the National Park Service. National Park Week coincides with Tuesday's Earth Day celebrations as well the Park Service's National Junior Ranger Day on April 26.
The National Park Service recently released a report that in 2012 national parks generated $26.75 billion in economic activity and supported 243,000 jobs across the country.
The former chief executive of the outdoor gear company REI, Jewell was sworn in a year ago as the secretary overseeing agencies with more than 70,000 employees that manage more than 20 percent of the nation's lands, according to the Interior Department. Agencies under the secretary include the Bureau of Land Management, the Park Service and the national wildlife refuge system, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.
Double dating Strengthens Relationships
The USA Weekend Magazine recently had a blurb about double dating and its effect on sparking romance and passion in a relationship. The research cited that getting acquainted with a new couple spurs passionate feelings about your own partner. Beyond bowling or going to a movie, the double date must include conversation and opening up because it conveys understanding and validates feelings of passionate love (toward your partner). The studies show that novelty and new experiences reinvigorates long term romantic relationships. Sharing time with the other couple increases a positive mood and adds passion to your existing relationship.
What does this have to do with skiing? Well, when you are on a XC ski outing you often stop along the trails and that gives you plenty of time to chat with another couple. Alpine skiers get time on the chair lift rides where the quad chairlifts (4 skiers sit on the lift) fit the bill perfectly. Of course, during a ski outing there is often a break for lunch when meaningful conversation can take place between couples, too. Go on more double dates!
Sun Valley Lodge Renovations Announced
Plans were announced for a renovation project at the Sun Valley Lodge, in Sun Valley, ID. It was originally constructed in 1936 as America's first destination ski resort and is incorporated into the 1941 musical film "Sun Valley Serenade" with ice skater Sonja Hennie, John Payne, Milton Berle, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
The project will refurbish guest rooms and update the lobby, restaurant, and other guest amenities. Some of the smallest rooms will be combined to create suites with fireplaces and expanded bathrooms with large showers, baths and vanity areas. The renovations will maintain the character and essence of the historic building and an adjoining 20,000 square foot full service spa and salon will also be constructed. The spa facilities will include large locker rooms, relaxation lounges, a yoga studio and a large fitness area. Great XC skiing and snowshoeing at nearby Galena Lodge.
An Olympic Competitor's View of the Sochi Games
The National Nordic Foundation has posted an article written by US Cross Country Ski Team member Holly Brooks speaking frankly about the US XC ski results in the Sochi Olympics pointing to a number of best ever finishes and some expectation disappointments at National Nordic Foundation.org. The team understands that the industry is unable to promote best ever finishes to encourage a substantial increase in the number of newcomers to XC skiing. Put succinctly, only Olympic medals can sell and publicize the sport to the larger population - good snow and weather is important, too.
Elevation Outdoors Magazine 2014 Poll Results for Colorado XC Ski Areas
Devil's Thumb Ranch was selected as Elevation Outdoors Magazine's Best Nordic Center in Colorado as it manages to make the very Euro sport of Nordic skiing feel distinctly like it belongs in the American West. And it's a place where any level of skier can get out and feel the joy of the glide. With over 100K of varied trails, skaters can taste speed, classic skiers get their kicks, complete novices will simply enjoy cruising around the meadows; aspiring racers can learn from the staff, and anyone can get out and challenge themselves on big, long loops. And you can finish off with a gourmet meal.
Elevation Outdoors also selected YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch as the best Nordic center for kids in Colorado. Snow Mountain Ranch has more than enough to keep kids engaged. First the Nordic skiing, complete with a wide range of kids' programs and rentals, will make children of all ages giddy. This is a YMCA facility so there's a heated indoor pool, sauna, archery, roller skating, basketball, volleyball, ping pong, foosball, a climbing wall, yoga… and the Craft Shop features everything from leather working to tie-dying. Multiple-family size cabins that allow dogs make it an ideal place for kids to go in conjunction with their friends' families. A cafeteria makes meals easy.
Former Minneapolis Mayor Suffers Heart Attack and German Chancellor Fractures Hip While XC Skiing
R.T. Rybak, the former Minneapolis mayor suffered a heart attack while XC skiing at Theodore Wirth Park in the area. He was taken from the trails to the hospital in an ambulance and received two artery stents to repair blood flow restrictions. As an XC skier, who experienced a heart attack in 1999, I (the XCSkiResorts.com editor) can attest to many more years of XC skiing after getting such a stent procedure.
In another injury story, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was XC skiing in the southeastern Swiss region of Engadin over the Christmas holidays when she was injured in a fall. She has cancelled several meetings in the next three weeks. After she fell, the injury was thought initially to be just painful bruising, but after her return to Berlin, doctors Friday diagnosed a fracture in the pelvic area, which makes it necessary for her to lie down a lot for three weeks. Merkel, 59, will mainly work from home during that period. She has cancelled a planned trip to Warsaw on Wednesday as well as a visit to Berlin by Luxembourg's new prime minister that had been scheduled for Thursday.
Vermont Changes Maple Syrup Grading
On January 1, the state of Vermont officially changed its maple syrup grading standards to coincide with the International Maple Syrup Institute. Formerly, the Vermont grading system included Grade A Fancy and Dark Amber and Grade B. Now all of the grading is Grade A with flavor descriptions such as Delicate, Rich, Robust, and Strong Taste. Of course, the place of origin will continue to be prominent on the label as no matter where state maple syrup is produced, it is commonly claimed that it is the best maple syrup available. The Canadian grading system, which uses flavor terms such as vanilla, milky, and spicy currently uses a Grade 1 and 2 system. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is drafting newly proposed rules about grading at this time. In Vermont, the producers can still use their old labels on their products in the first year, so expect to be totally confused when you reach for maple syrup in Vermont.
Ride the SnowCoach Above Treeline on Mt. Washington
Winter on the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Gorham, NH officially opened in mid-December this year with custom-built four wheel drive Chevy passenger vans and their four massive treads ferrying passengers up the road to an elevation of 4,000 feet. The SnowCoach goes about two-thirds of the way to the summit of Mt. Washington, the Northeast’s highest peak. “The specially-trained SnowCoach drivers can take anyone at any age into the alpine environment that they may never see otherwise,” according to Auto Road General Manager Howie Wemyss. “It is really a comfortable adventure for the whole family to see an unforgettable place.”
The SnowCoach ride up Mt. Washington takes about 75 minutes and departs daily, weather permitting. Many passengers bring their skis to going XC skiing back down to the base lodge at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center.
The price of the SnowCoach tour is $45 for adults, $30 for kids aged 5-12 or part of the Total Trails Ticket ($69) that includes a SnowCoach tour, all day trail pass, tubing pass, and snowshoe or XC ski rental equipment at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center.
Biathlon Proliferates at XC Ski Areas
Biathlon is now on target at many XC ski areas across the country. The sport of biathlon combines cross country (XC) skiing and target shooting. The roots of biathlon are traced to Scandinavia in the mid 1700's, and currently in Europe it is the most popular winter sport attracting 700 million annual television viewers. XC ski areas in the US are now offering programs with real 22 caliber biathlon rifles, laser rifles, and even paintball markers (guns). Some of the XC ski areas that conduct biathlon programs include the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, NY, Tahoe Donner Cross Country in Truckee, CA, Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone and Bohart Ranch in Bozeman both in MT, Craftsbury Outdoor Center in VT, and the Nordic Heritage Center in ME. See the full article on the Resort Features Page.
TV Interview at Cross Country Ski Headquarters
Cross Country Ski Headquarters of Higgins Lake, MI is the site of a MyFoxDetroit interview with proprietor Bob Frye and his daughter Mariah on a TV news segment talking about XC skiing. Mariah models the new Swix Romsdal skirt (puffy skirt worn over leggings) and Bob straightens out the interviewer about XC skiing by stating "It's easier now than it ever was and most of all, it's fun." If you haven't seen the skirt yet, Mariah shows how fashionable it is...and how easy it is to take off - check it out at Cross Country HQ TV interview. Mariah also mentions the Winter Trails program set for January 11 as a free introduction to XC skiing and snowshoeing at nearly a hundred locations.
Outdoor Recreation is BIG Business
Go on a trip to recreate lately? According to a ForbesLife article about Conservation Funding, the outdoor recreation industry (biking, skiing, hunting, hiking, camping, fishing, etc.) is worth $646 billion, is responsible for 6.1 million American jobs, and $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue. This industry is a larger part of the US economy than pharmaceuticals ($331 billion), motor vehicles and parts ($340 billion) and gasoline and other fuels ($354 billion). In Utah, the Office of Outdoor Recreation has been created to help Utah increase its involvement with outdoor activities and increase its rate of recreational tourism. The Outdoor Industry Association website has state-by-state info regarding outdoor recreation for spending, jobs, wages/salaries, and tax revenue within the respective states. The organization's objectives include encouraging federal agencies to coordinate their efforts, improve recreational access and funding, protect recreational destinations and provide funding to maintain them, and ensure fair and predictible trade and business environments.
Telemark Lodge Saga Continues
In late November, the new owners of the Telemark Lodge in Cable, WI announced that they're turning the power off at the resort. "Renovating the heating and cooling system alone would cost $1 million and the lodge is in a state of disrepair that poses just too big of a mountain to climb, " said Rick Carpenter of the Mount Telemark Partners. James Bolen, executive director of the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce still holds out hope that an interested party will arrive. While the lodge won't be available, the owners have agreed to lease the property for this years's American Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Race.
According to a story that was updated in late-October on the Wisconsin Public Radio News the Telemark Lodge and Resort in Cable, WI was sold to a company now called Mount Telemark Partners, a Colorado company at a sheriff's foreclosure auction for $926,000. The new owners have stated that there are no plans for the resort to reopen in time for America's largest XC ski marathon, (the American Birkebeiner held in February). An earlier story in the Duluth News Tribune said the purchase was for 975 acres and that the new owners viewed it as a good land buy, but are not motivated to open the Telemark Lodge. Also, one of the new owners has reportedly skied the Birkebeiner once. According to a story in the Superior Telegram, the Telemark Lodge, an 1,100 acres property is a 41-year-old facility, which closed in March of 2012.
The new owners have told business leaders in the Cable area that they'll listen to proposals to reopen the resort, which has been the starting point for the Birkebeiner for many years, but they have no interest in running a resort. The newest info from Wisconsin Public Radio News also reported that the new owners have property in the Cable area and are part of the Johnson-Lewis family, which owns Johnson Wax products. One proposal could involve using the lodge as a training headquarters by the CXC, an international XC skiing organization. Olympic World Cup competitions have been held on the site in the past.
A program on the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible” program visited the 150-room (some reports claim the resort has 215 rooms) lodge and cited potential but revealed that significant work is needed to bring it back to eminence. The mortgage holder says a buyer would have some upfront expenses the problems are not insurmountable. The region depends on the 10,000 participant Birkebeiner to bring in business every year and the Telemark Lodge would play a significant role in accommodating those racers.
Fat Bikes Now Welcome & Offered at More XC Ski Areas
Last year, the Methow Valley Sports Trails Association (MVSTA) in Winthrop, WA opened selected cross country ski trails to fat bikes in 4 different locations among the organization's 120 miles of groomed trails. Fat bikes are specially-made with ultra-wide tires that can be run at very low pressure to allow the bicycles to roll over packed snow-covered trails. Many XC skiers are also mountain bikers so fat bikes provide an opportunity to combine these interests during the winter months.
The Fat Bike pilot program gave people another way to play in Methow Valley's dry, sunny, cold, snowy climate. In the right conditions, the fat bike tire tracks stay on top of the snow with less impact than a pair of skis.
A trail pass is required for snow bikes on the trails.
Fat bike rentals are now available at Sun Mountain Lodge, WA; Bear Valley Cross Country & Adventure and Royal Gorge in CA; Rikert Nordic Center and Kingdom Trails in VT; Flagstaff Nordic Center in AZ; Cross Country Ski Headquarters in MI. We'll add more areas to the list as we hear about them. There are trail ethics involved with fat biking with regard to sharing the trails with other trail users and being a good trail citizen. If a rider has to get off the bike and push or carry it or the bike is leaving a rut on the trail deeper than an inch, then the snow is too soft and he or she must get off the trail. See full story at Resort Features.
Royal Gorge/Sugar Bowl Partners with Sun Valley
Royal Gorge Ski Resort (part of Sugar Bowl) in Soda Springs, CA has agreed to offer season passholders at Sun Valley Ski Resort and Nordic Center in Idaho to be eligible for free skiing. Passholders at both areas will be eligible for free skiing reciprocally and a two-night minimum stay in Sun Valley Resort Lodging is required for eligibility on the Sun Valley side of the offer in the "Sugar Bowl Sweet Deal." There is also new non-stop regional jet service from San Francisco SFO to Sun Valley SUN on United Airlines to begin December 12.
Royal Gorge Ski Resort announced that it will expand its offerings with new fat tire snowbiking trails and the return of the Sierra Snowkite Center, California’s first and only resort-based snowkiting school. Fat tire snowbiking will be offered on narrow, bike-specific snow trails, giving the riders of fat-tired, winter-specific bikes the feeling of riding singletrack trails through the snow. Snowbikes will be offered for rent at Royal Gorge’s Summit Station Lodge.
Shopping at Ski Swaps
Looking for inexpensive used XC skis, boots, snowshoes, and other gear? Ski swaps are a traditional outlet for finding products at a low price. It is suggested that you Google "tips for ski swaps" to find articles that review the pros and cons of shopping for gear at ski swaps. For XC skis and boots, the bindings on the skis are a key issue - they must match the boot type (NNN or Salomon and all of the specific versions). If you are considering waxless bases, check the pattern on the ski base to see that it is not too "old to hold." Of course, there are also the ski swap shopping techniques for finding that specific item and beating someone else to it. If you want to sell products at a swap be aware of the dates to drop gear off and price them low to move while remembering you will have to split the proceeds with the swap organizer. Many of the swaps include ski retailers, who offer a larger selection of gear and price products at much higher than the individuals price their gear to sell. Contact your local XC ski area or club to ask if they know about upcoming ski swaps that will have XC ski gear. For a list of ski swaps in the US, click SnoCountry.com and it is suggested that you call in advance to make sure that there will be XC ski or snowshoe equipment available at the swap.
Sports Participation Stats for 2013 Released
For the first time since the 2008-09 season, the number of snowshoers 4,029,000 exceeded the number of cross country skiers 3,307,000 on the NSGA Sports Participation Study for 2013. These stats represent declines from the previous year as snowshoers were 4.1 million and xc skiers were 4.3 million (a million skier decrease). Remember that the snow did not arrive until after Christmas last winter and there were a number of meltdowns during the winter, too. The study also showed that were also declines in the number of alpine skiers and snowboarders. More stats from this study at 2013 Cross Country Skiing Participation article.
Noise Ordinance Exception Approved for Snowmaking in Mnpls Park
According to an article in the Star Tribune, the Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, MN will install a 5 km cross country ski trail loop served by 15 portable snowmaking machines by the upcoming December at a cost of $5.75 million. There is already an alpine ski area at Hyland Park, which is located in the southern part of the Minneapolis area.
An exception to the city noise ordinance was approved unanimously by the city council setting snowmaking stipulations to 100 total hours per season on no more than 22 calendar days between 10 PM and 5 AM excluding major holidays. Currently, the Theodore Wirth Park is the only public xc ski trail network in the region (and one of the only public xc ski trails with snowmaking in the nation) that is served by snowmaking. See full article at SnoCountry.com.
Bolton Valley, VT Protects Coveted Land
It took two years of fundraising to purchase 1,114 high elevation acres in Bolton, VT, which includes land that hosts Nordic and backcountry ski trails at Bolton Valley Nordic Center.
The Vermont Land Trust campaign raised $1,050,000 in 15 months and that was matched by $800,000 from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. In mid June, the Land Trust transferred the deed for the 1,114 acres to the state to become part of the Mount Mansfield state forest.
The property, which was threatened by interested developers is the largest state land conservation acquisition in more than a decade and it includes a long section of the Bolton Valley Nordic Center to Trapp Family Lodge ski trail.
Top XC Ski Racers May be at Higher Risk to Heart Problems
In a story that has virally spread on the Internet on June 12, findings in a study published in the European Heart Journal stunningly revealed that cross country (xc) skiers, who completed the 90 km (56 mile) Swedish Vasaloppet marathon, may be at greater risk of developing heart arrhythmias with the rhythm of a heart beat. Those skiers, who completed the most races and had the fastest finishing times, had a higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation (abnormally fast heartbeat) or bradyarrhythmias (abnormally slow heartbeat).
The study did not find a direct causal link between xc skiing and heart problems but it suggests that there is a dose-response relationship: the more races skiers complete and the faster they go, the greater their risk. The research included 52,755 xc skiers who completed the marathon between 1989 to 1998 and were tracked through 2005. These skiers all pursued more physical activity during their leisure time than the general population and smoked less, had lower fat, higher fiber consumption, and better mental and physical health. The study showed that 1.74% (919) had some kind of heart rhythm problems.
There was a 29% increase of having atrial fibrillation for skiers who completed 5 or more races compared to those who just completed one; and those who had the fastest finishing times were 20% more likely to have the problem than those who were in the slowest group. The risk of bradyarrhythmia went up 110% in those who completed 5 or more races compared to first-timers.
It is expected that similar results would be seen in other endurance athletes but researchers emphasized that exercise can protect the heart from cardiovascular diseases. They did not find any increased incidence of the heart problems leading to sudden death and the Vasaloppet participants are less likely to die during the follow up period than the general population and that mortality decreases with increasing number of races.
The American Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week or one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice weekly.
UVM Nordic Ski Team Aids Adirondack Rescue
In an article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise it was reported that members of the University of Vermont women’s Nordic ski team joined with a local outfitter and forest rangers to conduct a backcountry rescue of a woman with a serious leg injury on Dix Mountain on March 30th in the Adirondack Mountains west of Route 73 in NY.
The woman was snowshoeing and had injured her ankle. Seven forest rangers responded with a state police helicopter and they parlayed with the UVM ski team, who were on an end-of-the-year outing with the owner of the Mountaineer gear shop in Keene Valley, NY.
The woman’s leg was splinted and stabilized and a makeshift sled was created from ski poles, ski skins, a harness, and rope. The group worked together to get the woman to a landing zone clearing in the area and she was hoisted out of the wilderness on the helicopter. The UVM women’s team had recently taken 3rd place in the NCAA Championships held at Rikert Nordic Center in Middlebury College…but this might have been an unexpected highlight of the season.
Cross Country Downhill Fun to Music
We received this video to music this morning http://vimeo.com/57040530 celebrating the snow and some great runs at White Grass in WV. That's Chip Chase and friends ripping it up on xc skis in the trees and yes, doing telly-copters (360 in the air and then landing it). Who says cross country skiing is boring or too much work? Spend 4 minutes with the video to learn the answer to the question, "Why do we love cross country skiing?"
Mountain Top Named Most Pet Friendly Resort in Chittenden, VT was named among the most pet-friendly resorts on PawNation.com because it gives your pup a retreat at another level beyond just allowing dogs on the trails. There is a $30 per night fee associated with having your dog accompany you on a cabin vacation, but overnights at Mountain Top provides Fido with a dog bed, a bowl for food and water, and a welcome treat. Your dog is welcome to enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride with you and pet sitters are available if you want to leave your dog in the cabin while you treat yourself to dinner in the restaurant.
In most of these xc ski area dog offerings there is a trail fee for both the skier and the dog. Check the area’s policy because some allow dogs to run loose while others require a leash or harness. There are some resorts that require proof of rabies vaccination.
A full list of 70 xc ski areas that welcome dogs and the amount of dog-designated kilometers within their trail networks are at CCSAA Dog Trails List. Other resorts named as the most pet-friendly included the Lake Placid Lodge in NY, The Little Nell in Aspen, CO, and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta.