Sunday, January 17, 2016

The fight for our sport

Avid readers of this blog know that this forum is not a place for particularly serious commentary.  More often, it is a place for....

a) reading about NYSSRA ski news that you already know about because we are often days late on race reporting and sharing pictures (all of which you have already seen on other peoples tweet-o-gram accounts and facebook pages)

b) quasi-parodic reports mimicking our favorite fasterskier articles and contributors.

c) a place to amp up the Peru vs. HURT rivalry so that on the ranking of "greatest sports rivalries" of all time we can fall somewhere between the great minor league hockey rivalry between the Fort Wayne Komets and the Quad-City Mallards, and say....Bills vs. Jets.

However, for just a moment I would like to talk some serious.

This has been a tough winter.  It is clear that the future of our earth's climate presents boom or bust winters for most of our country.  Last year, we give slight sympathetic sighs as we looked at headlines showing dry peaks of the West and then clipped into our skis for our 100th day on snow and 1000th kilometer.  This year we see and feel the struggle.  Ski businesses are struggling, livelihoods are threatened and for some our skis have been barely scraped.  It is easy to give up on nordic skiing and racing in a season like this.  Nobody would blame you for an instant. But that is giving up on the fight.

This past weekend (and during the past couple weeks) I had a chance to see what makes our nordic ski community amazing.  There are a lot of people who are fighting for our sport.  While the pictures below may be focused on the spandex-clad performers, the true champions are as follows:

-Mike Pratt, Sam Allison and every single groomer and Gore Mountain staff members at the Ski Bowl in North Creek who are committed to helping support the high school nordic skiers and citizen racers in NY.  They are committed to providing a venue for skiing.  They blew snow, pushed it, shoveled it, groomed it, adapted the course, flagged the stadium, listened to feedback, and helped make the last two weekends of racing happen and made many other high school training and racing opportunities a loss.  This is a group of folks committed to our community and I want to thank them.  I thought that when I drove over last Saturday from Vermont at 5am I would be the first one there....I was wrong. Champions.

-Steve Tomb is a guy who has an endless vat of enthusiasm and creativity.  He wants to make great opportunities for kids on snow and he doesn't know the meaning of "no."  I am proud to be able to work with him from time to time, Section 2 is so lucky to have him lead that core of coaches, and HURT is lucky to have him on our team. Champion.

-Bob Underwood.  The guy is hobbled (not for long!) and supposedly retired and yet he has dedicated himself to timing, organizing, and running the best possible events for the nordic community.  His persistent drive cannot be understated and should not go under-appreciated. And he is still going to beat you in a ski race this winter. Champion.

-The high school coaches.  It is hard to coach a group of high school students in nordic skiing without snow.  It is hard.  They are endlessly creative and flexible and willing to go to the greatest lengths to help their kids succeed and to get them to ski races.  Champions.

-Parents and volunteers.  At this past Queensbury invitational I was witness to a host of capable and enthusiastic parents who stepped up to time, guide, record and start the racers throughout the day.  And those that weren't working were doing everything they could to create an amazing nordic ski environment for the kids. They are all-in for nordic skiing.  Champions.

It is because of these people that I believe in the fight for our sport and for our community.  I just need to work on setting up my "go-fund-a-rally-me" page so I can trade my hybrid-but-not-quite-there Prius in for a Nissan Leaf so I don't continue to be part of the problem. (Oh, and another go-kick-a-start-me page for R&D to make environmentally friendly high fluoro wax. Oh, the priorities...)


Yes.....we did include some pics from the Queensbury Invy....'cause it still is a ski blog.  Results are here too....but you've already seen those.

HURT's Eliza Blood skiing to a podium spot in the JNQ.

Talk about parent support! One of the best!  (and she snaps good photos too)

The race set-up was world-class. 

HURT's B. Beyerbach skis along a spectator-lined course.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We made it happen! Mega Relay survives rough winter

The winter gods have been unkind to the NYSSRA race schedule. But in the wake of nature's bad behavior came a whole lot of elbow-grease and can-do spirit.  Thanks to the folks at Gore Mountain and the hard work of Steve Tomb, Sam Allison and others in the North Creek area we were able to pull of a great 6 hour Mega-Relay.  The race brought 60+ skiers together, on a challenging 2K loop in relatively balmy weather.   It ended up being a great event for all....and as always...the margins of victory were tiny in all race fields.

Thanks to everyone who brought the amazing food to the potluck.

Full results can be found here:

Great day at Ski bowl for xc racing!

Only 5:59 to go!

Chris Y storming up the climbs

Snow guns on full blast to make the ski bowl THE place to be for skiing so far

HURT's newest batch of young guns preparing to battle with reigning Peru champs

The winning group of boys with their coach (from Peru no less...)