By Jennie Bender
Some overstated facts about this trip that I will repeat:
- Yes, the excitement of snow is high here in West Yellowstone, Montana
- Yes, at times you can cut the pre-season intensity lingering in the air with a butter knife
- And Yes, the demographics here are probably 99% Caucasian, and 75% Midwesterners.
Everyone is eager for this winter wonderland. The team arrived on Tuesday before the herds moved in, reminding me of how desolate and wild West Yellowstone really is when it’s not during a “season” of some sort. The main ones seem to be huntin’ season, snowmobilin’ season, hiking season, bears eating hikers season, and nordic skier season. The locals look at us like we’re nuts as we walk and jog down the middle of the one-car-an-hour road in our bright colors, shiny puffy coats, and spandex. The CXC team is staying in a house this year on a road named Firehole Ave, across from Geyser and Ol’Faithful Street. Gotta love it. As we walk the 7-10 minutes to Rendezvous trails, other skiers appear out of random houses and old hotels to join the mass like a sea of fish.
Despite my love for hugs as I re-discover my seasonal ski friends, lately I have had the most fun skiing by myself with my iPod through the woods. It’s only then, when I can truly look around at the untouched snow laden trees and remember why these two boards keep me on them. The world looks brighter when it’s covered with a blanket of powder…ok mostly because it reflects the sun, but I’m trying to be poetic here.
By the way, West Yellowstone moves snow like a boss..
The first races were today. As much as I like sprinting, these first races are the splinter under your finger nail sprints. There was a classic qualifier at 9am, and a skate qualifier at 10am. Not only are these first races at altitude, but they have massive attitude. It’s basically a mini hill climb sprint, with just enough time in-between to let your lungs stop bleeding.
Thanks to Salomon and the coaches, the skis felt good. However, my second place classic finish was bitter sweet due to my pole basket coming off two feet after I started. I used extra glue too! There was definitely some time lost getting a new pole, but I still feel like I had a good race. It’s no secret that I am more of a power skier, so the skate hill climb sprint made me feel more like Gumbi (the uncoordinated green stretchy toy) than tinker bell. Oh well, you’ll have that. Many, many more races ahead!
A few great pictures from Toko’s Ian Harvey here: http://tokous.com/Event%20Reports/US%20Nationals%202011%20Skate%20Sprint.htm
Results here: http://summittiming.com/races/race_results.php
Taken by Jason Cork