Most of the GRP skiers have now descended upon Soldier Hollow, Utah, to prepare for US Nationals. Nationals start on Wednesday, January 2nd with a classic sprint race, and continue through January 8th. Along with the classic sprint, there will be a 10/15k individual start skate race, a 20/30k mass start classic race, and a skate sprint.
Soldier Hollow was fortunate to receive natural snow not too long ago, and the skiing is really quite good. However, the organizers are still manufacturing a huge quantity of snow, to ensure that the snow depth is adequate for classic tracks and clean skiing. Anyone who has wanted classic tracks the past few days has been stuck with about 1k of terrain near the lodge, though the outer loops are excellent for skating and quite good for classic without tracks. The snow piles cover about half of the sprint course as well as a few other places, and they haven’t been groomed smooth yet, which makes it somewhat difficult to ski certain loops of the trails. The piles are moderately skiable, but they’re actually pretty icy, so its not that fun to skitter across their steep sides. We heard that the sprint course may be ready for skiing tomorrow though, so I made sure to take a few pictures of the great Snow Serpent of SoHo today. The shapes of the piles and their alignment make them look like huge fins or vertebrae of a serpent.
On a different note, after racing in the Canmore World Cups, I headed home to Alaska for the holidays.
Alaska was cold, but it was very nice to be at home. Within the first few days, I had seen at least 10 moose while driving around town or skiing. My cats were not quite sure if they remembered me at first, but they quickly came around and we played lots of games and they chased balls and feathers all over the house. On Christmas day it started snowing mid-morning and continued through much of the day, and I went on an evening ski with my parents and brother under the lights.
On December 22nd and 23rd I raced in the Besh Cups, Alaska’s equivalent to Eastern Cups, and I was 2nd place in both the classic sprint and the 5k skate. We were lucky to be able to race the 2nd day, and the race was nearly cancelled due to the cold, but after a 1.5 hr delay it was supposedly above -4F.
Make sure you don’t miss the Fasterskier article about Susan’s race at Schalke, it sounds fascinating. (http://fasterskier.com/article/in-packed-soccer-stadium-in-germany-biathletes-put-on-a-show-burke-and-dunklee-tenth-at-schalke/)
Racing excitement here in Utah will commence in a few days, we’ll try to keep you posted!