Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rochester Nordic Ski Team

Over the course of the season, we have around 25 high school teams come to Maplelag for training camps. For 7 years now, the Rochester Nordic Ski team has come up. It used to be called Rochester Area Ski Club. The first year there might of been 30 students but this year was all time high of almost 150 students. One thing neat about this group is there are kids from all the Rochester schools, including Mayo, Century, John Marshal, Lourdes and one other private school. Rivals in other sports, they all come together as Nords to form a team.  It is awesome to see and be a part of the growth. The energy and enthusiasm of the kids is inspiring.
 Team assembled for the Saturday morning ski.
 The kids have the option to go out in the morning. Every weekend it is fantastic to see so many kids out on the trail before the sun comes up. Regardless of the temp as evident by this skier.
 The kids are super nice. Friendly, respectful, courteous. Jonell and I spent a hour of so Saturday night talking, basically a Q and A, with some of them over a big bowl of popcorn. Great stuff.
It was a lot of work getting skaters waltz in good shape before having 150 skiers doing countless laps. But watching the time trial Saturday afternoon was all worth it. With classic tracks not common in Rochester, the team primarily focuses on skate skiing but will take a group of 20 or so out classic skiing Sunday morning.

Head lamp skiing in the early morning while out grooming.
John Ressman is one of the coaches/leaders I work with setting up the trip. He along with the other coaches and organizers are a big reason the group has grown and remains vibrant. Big shout out to them. It blows me away to see a group this size from Rochester take off like it has. Fargo/Moorhead is a comparable size, close proximity but has had a hard time gaining momentum.
A fun weekend. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


 Another Holiday season has passed. Like always, it goes by super fast with things cranking up at the resort and kids activities in the mix. Family shot at Grandma Judy's on Christmas Eve.

 I didn't feel like Christmas this year with browngreenish grass the day before Christmas. Yikes!
 The boys with Santa.
 My awesome wife, celebrating 22 years of amazingness.

 Snowmaker Christmas present from Bruce and Margaret Adelsman. I waved that wand like crazy and then it snowed 6" in the cities. Thanks Ha! Priceless gift though and like Bruce said, sometimes you just have to laugh.
 We kept active a bit different this Holiday season. Fun times with boys, lots of skating, ping pong and mountain biking. The skating on the lake was epic the day after it melted than started to freeze.

 Nothing stronger than flowing water, even if a trickle despite subzero temps.
 Preparing the plunge hole.
 Jake's time at home was short as he competed in US Nationals the first part of the New Year. (photo
 Jon waving the flag at Kent Freeman at last home game before Christmas break. (photo Brian Basham)
 Jens skating up the ice in home game.
 Jack cranking it at Mt Itasca before Christmas break.

Night plunge with the boys. Since we got the hole open, we've plunged over a dozen times this year. Good way to get rid of some of the gunk going around.

Snow returned in small batches with a great New years day gift of 4" on New Years Day. Ice thick enough to support vehicles and equipment and making it much more efficient to transport snow.

As of this week, over 30 loads on Skaters Waltz and considering only 5-6" of snowfall since the "melt off" skiing isn't too bad.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snow Farming Meltdown

Last weekend was not a good weekend weather wise for snow retention. Before this past weekend, we enjoyed about 4 weeks of early season skiing. The base remained constant but provided some great skiing. About 2 weeks out from the meltdown, I saw some indicators that it could get warm. Maybe it wouldn't but had to assume it would. I beginning clearing snow from fields, the basketball court, our deck, our patio not before starting with the ice rink that had snow from Thanksgiving that hadn't been cleared. Focused on about 5km of trail that was mostly skaters waltz. I wasn't going to blog this but Jonell said I should document it and hopefully I can look back down the road and say "glad I don't have to do that again".

God willing, I will never own a snowblower. I can't stand the things. When I clear the ice rink, I use my skates and 3" or less can knock out in 20 minutes. It's a great workout and I get the ice relatively "clean".
With the snow that was on the rink, I was able to get three pickup loads.

The pickup loads went near the start and big south facing slope hill "kamikaze" on skaters waltz.
Pulling snow from a field.
 Don Camp (above) passing through from West Yellowstone training camp to Michigan. During the four weeks we had skiable snow, just a few people came out to ski. Quite honestly, it was disappointing how few people came out skiing. The majority of people were from out of state!   We had just one skier from Detroit Lakes and no ski team members. Quite a change from years past where local hs kids would be ecstatic to be skiing on the snow we had. With Detroit Mountain opening up, the ski team has been skiing there and also pulling local skiers.
Hard not to look back to a year ago. Grooming exactly one year ago from the photo above of Don.
Taking snow off the court. Taking advantage of the moonlight during the short day.
Spreading another pickup load on kamikaze hill.

Grooming it out later in the day.

Building up the start area.
After a week of hauling snow in the truck, I walked along 80% of the trail, shoveling what snow there  was to the middle.

Where there was more snow to work with, I used sleds.

Fog and frost moving in. The frost was beautiful on the trees before it got to warm to convert the frog to frost.
Taking snow from the deck.
Istevan from South Dakota driving up 6 hours one way for a day of skiing.
Saturday morning the coverage was still very good and had a awesome Saturday morning ski. But from 10am that morning to Sunday evening, the temp only went up and never cooled down.

We had to cancel a ski camp with 200 kids from four different teams. Major bummer. It was tough to stomach the warm weather after all that shoveling but thankful for the good skiing days before the melt. Jens's home hockey tournament and a lot of ping pong games with Jon helped ease the torture. Ha!

Monday morning after it finally cooled down, went out for a run to check out the scene. It was not pretty. The upside is that that some of the melt froze to a solid base.

This slope had a lot of snow transport but just couldn't hang on.

Next night we had a dusting but not enough to groom or even ski. At least it is white!

Weather pattern looks bit more favorable next 2 weeks. All it will take is 3-4" to get gliding again. Soon it will come!! Think Snow!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Road

Having two kids in hockey means lots of road trips to catch some of the games. Jon is in his second year of high school hockey which means less games and travel with the team on a bus. Jens in first year Pee Wees and the number of games has bumped up from last year. So far has worked out good this year that most of the farther away games on weekends we have been before we crank up big time (hopefully) for the winter season. 

 Heading up to Lake of the Woods a few weekends ago, saw this guy riding through the deep woods near Itasca State Park.
 Went on east side of Red Lake which I've never been to before. Walked on the ice a bit to check out the fish houses in the distance. (Later that weekend I was talking to a Canadian and he called them fish Shacks")
 Facing off vs Lake of the Woods. Never been in the arena before. Home of Keith Ballard, currently playing for the Wild. Kind of a ugly game but a win is a win and the Lakers came up victors by a score of 3-1.
 JV players selling chuck a pucks.
 LOW had some success in the earlier years, most recently in 2004 vs Warroad.

Saturday morning stopped by Zippel Bay State Park  to check out conditions before going to Warroad. I skied here a few years ago when Jon was playing in tourney in Warroad. It wasn't groomed but enough snow for a nice ski. Sleet earlier in the morning made for FAST conditions. The best part was checking out the ice formations on the shore were most interesting. Looked like mini volcanoes. Full trail report:

 Saturday afternoon game vs Warroad. Probably one of my favorite rinks to watch a game in MN. Bigger sheet of ice and chance for the wheels to get moving on the speedy guys. The Lakers made it a good game behind some fantastic goaltending by the Laker net minder. Despite getting outshot, had the lead for a portion of the game but couldn't capitalize on its scoring chances to lose 2-3.
 Jon catching up with his buddy Luke Jaycox. One of the top D man in the state and very fun to watch.
 Grandpa Jim working the locals for area knowledge.
 Warroad Gardens probably the top arena in the state and probably country for that matter, that I have seen, for displays of the history of the local area hockey. Warroad rich in tradition with the legendary Warroad Lakers, the Olympians and Christian Hockey bros, to name a few. Had a chance to meet one of the Marvins after the game and one of the friendliest hockey persons I have met. The Marvin family doing incredible things for the town of Warroad and hockey.
 Next weekend was a day trip to Duluth on Saturday on a rare day off for everyone to visit Jake. It was a quick trip but good times like always when we are all together.
 Took a visit to the zoo. The last time we took the kids to the zoo, we were pretty much a mobile exhibit if you know what I mean. Doesn't matter where we go, always some good memories and thats what it is all about.
 Who puts a crow in a zoo?!?!

The trip was planned to bring Jens to his game on Sunday in Crosby, half way home . Fun game for Jens and his Pee Wee A team, going to OT with Jens getting a hat trick on the overtime winner.