Hitting the Slopes One Last Time

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And Down I Go Again

Howdy everyone! I hope that everyone is enjoying the long overdue spring weather that we may be finally getting. Just today, I finally noticed some buds appearing on the branches, so I *think* we may finally have bid adieu to winter! However, it does appear as though I was a tad premature in my final post when I indicated that it was my last race for the winter season. As it turns out, thanks in part to late snow, I had one final crazy race to try my luck in. XCZone’s Camp Fortune Nordix Skier-Cross Races. Yup, quite a mouthful, but if you’ll bear with me, I can explain (and show) it all. To put you in the right frame of mind, imagine if Red Bull put on a race downhill using cross-country skis. Oh wait! THEY DO! This was the ‘local’ version of that kind of thing. Before you read on, please feel free to look at the pictures I took (embedded below), then hear my story.

Pictures from the Event

I’m a sucker for cheap races. When Dave started drumming up support for this race, and I saw it was only $10, I saw no possible reason NOT to sign up. Less than a week from the race, we trekked up to the lower slopes of Camp Fortune to do some course scouting for the race. That is when I started seeing some possible reasons. First off, it was icy. Really icy. Cross country skis don’t exactly have biting edges like downhill skis. Also, with a loose heel, you definitely don’t have the same control. And of course, there’s that whole ‘gravity’ thing that Newton postulated about so many years ago. It tends to make my skinny plastic skis propel me rather rapidly to my pending doom at the bottom of icy downhill ski runs! Oh, and did I mention that this course would take place on the snowboard parc? Yeah, interesting.

But, you all know me. Taste death to live life and all that. I wasn’t going to let a little risk deter me from throwing my hat in the ring. On that Tuesday, we did 2-3 practice runs, and then I stuck around on my own to re-try some of the tricky bits to see if I could avoid falling repeatedly. We were also assured that come Sunday, the slope would be well groomed and not that icy death trap that we had been dealing with. Time would tell.

I’ve definitely had a great winter of skiing this year. Although there have been some interesting times, what with the crazy heavy snowfall causing snowmageddon in the park, for the most part, we’ve had great coverage and plenty of opportunities to explore. I was just about to put on the storage wax and call it a year, but figured that one final day of skiing would be fun.

On Sunday making the first climb to the top of the hill (yup, that’s right, no chairlift for us!), I watch someone take a practice run and snap their binding right off their ski, and someone else break their pole. Suddenly I had a flashback of my final bike commute in 2011, where I ran into a parked truck and snapped my bike in half. Was I tempting fate once again by a late-season risky activity….? Hopefully not, but I had no time to dwell on that. Only time for a couple practice runs of the redesigned and re-groomed course. Thumbs up to a great design and more reasonable conditions as compared to Tuesday. Of course, I did quickly realize that going through the trouble of re-waxing my skis just for this race was an exercise in folly. There was no need to eek out more speed than what I was getting with our old friend 9.8m/s/s!

I’ll cut right to the chase here. After the practice runs. the 60 or so participants amassed at the top and broke into groups of 4-6 for individual heats. The first was a throwaway. I came last in that one. The 2nd one was for real, but again, I came last. My reward? Stripped of my race bib and relegated to spectator status. I can safely say that after 4 runs, I was done anyway, and grateful I hadn’t broken either my equipment or me! For the rest of the morning, Deanna and I hung out watching the ‘pros’. I had also brought along my GoPro and another camera, and in spite of the grey skies, shot some footage and snapped some pics. Below you’ll see my little video that I put together hurriedly.

All in all, this was a great way to close out the cross-country ski season. It was interesting to note that of the 60 or so people racing, there were less than 10 of us that were in the ‘masters’ category. Apparently, my normal skiing friends are a bit wiser when it comes to risking life and limb playing the younger man’s sports. With that being said, kudos to my fellow Natural Fitness Labs teammates. We had fun, and teased each other a fair bit. And at the end, to soothe my bruised ego and refuel, I treated myself to a hot dog, grilled cheese, fries, AND a beer in the lodge! It was heavenly, and a good time to finally bid adieu to the winter ski season till next December!

With this out of the way, it is now time to start focusing on the true summer pursuits. Time to ramp up the biking and running volume, both on the road and on the trails. I predict another amazing summer of fun doing the things I love with the person (and people) I love! Bring on the hot tub and bring on the sun! Oh, and the BBQ too please 🙂

Video From Race

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