Nordic ski opportunities galore

Winter lovers, rejoice: there’s a lot of great nordic (cross-country) ski activity over the next few weekends.coachkust

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s (Saturday, January 31, Carleton College Upper Arb) Nordic Ski Fest, the annual fund-raiser for the Northfield High School Nordic Ski Team. Coach Dan Kust (at right) has done tremendous work with the ski team for many years now, as evidenced by the huge number of kids skiing this year (nearly 100, reportedly).

Nordic skiing may not be quite as popular as say, pro football, but I think it’s a much better community-builder. Watch the Super Bowl on Sunday and support the $100,000-per-second advertisers and strutting, overpaid athletes if you must, but come on out on Saturday and contribute your $20 to a worthy cause–a great local sports program that turns kids on to a healthy physical activity they can enjoy for a lifetime. I’ll be there–please join me!

The event, canceled last Saturday due to wickedly low wind chill temps (whatthe*#$&?–are we not Minnesotans???), features women’s and men’s 5K races, and a 1K kids’ fun race. Registration forms are available at Goodbye Blue Monday. You may also register at the race site (east end of the Carleton Rec Center) before the events tomorrow morning. The schedule:

10:00 registration begins
11:00 5K men’s race
11:15 5K women’s race
12:00 kids race (1K)
12:30 raffle for prizes.

A number of locals who are REALLY into nordic skiing (myself included) will be skiing in one or several major events over the next three weeks: the City of Lakes Loppet (Minneapolis), the Mora (Minnesota) Vasaloppet, and/or the American Birkebeiner (Cable-Hayward Wisconsin). birkie-trail-profile

I’ve skied the Birkie (51 grueling up-and-down kilometers) three times. I’m a traditionalist, prefering the classic (diagonal stride) technique to the faster freestyle/skate technique. I’ve also skied the Vasaloppet once, although poor snow conditions forced the race to be held on Knife Lake, not themora-2007 usual course, that year. I’m returning to the Vasaloppet this year (next Sunday, February 8) and look forward to experiencing its fabled 42K classic course. The long-range forecast is calling for a sunny day with temperatures in the 20s, a relief to friends I’ll be skiing with who skied in brutally cold weather last year (around -10 air temp and -30 wind chill at race time; see the winner’s photo at right).

Maybe the Northfield News could run a story or three about the intrepid Northfielders who take part in these events…

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