Braving the Cold

There were a number of US team athletes that travelled up to Lake Placid, NY to brave the freezing (well really more than freezing) cold temperatures of the Polar Plume for the US Ski Orienteering Championships.

There was a lot of discussion over whether the event could be held due to the negative temperatures and even lower wind chills. Eventually it was decided to hold races later in the days, and to cut down on lengths when necessary.

Team members favorite things about ski-orienteering:

Alex – My favorite thing about ski orienteering is that it involves quick decision-making like sprints, but with more factors, like will I be able to skate on this trail? will I be able to turn around quickly? and so on. 

Ali – Using ski-ninja skills to go as fast as possible on teency, technical little woods trails! 

The weekend started off on Friday with a sprint race in the -13F temps. Here are a couple photos of team members who braved the weather.

On Saturday there was a middle race with a mass start! It was 5F for the race, so slightly better than Friday, but still pretty dang cold.

This was Alex’s favorite race: “I was able to fully focus on the map, the skiing was a little bit better than on Friday, and my leg wasn’t bothering me yet (my calf got pinched by my ski boot so for the second half of the long I could barely push off of my right leg). The courses were very fun, there were a lot of quick decisions to be made and the route choices weren’t always super obvious.”

By Sunday the temps were becoming more reasonable at around 20-30F! This was the day of the long.

Anna said that the long was the race she learned the most from. This was the day that Alex and his mom Dasha gave her a little lesson on why skiers wax their skis, and also on some skate skiing technique.

Ali managed to get out for half of the Red after a weekend of being sick, and this led to one of her favorite moments from the weekend. “The awesome narrow-trail descent from #3 to the marsh crossing. It wasn’t hard double-poling because it was downhill and was a fun little squiggly trail to ski. I was a bit grateful that I could be pretty confident no one would be coming up at me, as I was an early starter. Dodging another skier on that trail would have been difficult or at least would have slowed me down!”

Greg had a good start but eventually his map disintegrated causing him to DNF… “I fell a few times because I’m shockingly not an advanced skier yet, and it seemed like that was enough to get the map wet. So when it came to the map flip, the whole thing just fell apart, which was surprising because I was expecting waterproof paper.” He did say he wants to do more ski-o now though!

What were takeaways from the weekend?

Alex – One thing I learned is that the hard part about skiing in extremely cold temperatures isn’t the cold, it’s the fact that it’s practically impossible to wax your skis so that they can glide more than a few centimeters. 

Ali – That properly bundled up, my 5 year-old kid could be a completely happy camper going for a 30 min ski at 5 degrees F! (We skied at the Cascade Welcome Center on Saturday afternoon.)

And that’s it for this week’s blog post! Next up is SWSW updates – stay tuned! Maybe even subscribe to the blog if you don’t want to miss it or any other future post 😉

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