Monday, February 11, 2019

Ski Camp

Ski season at Maplelag officially kicks off with a high school ski camp the middle of December. This past season we enjoyed skiing for almost a month before as snow came early on November 12th and stuck all the way through until April 19th. Having enough snow for skiing for a dozen people versus enough snow for 200 kids that ski multiple laps are two very different things. It takes year round prep to have the trails ready for high volume and hard skiing. It's a challenge I enjoy and a great reward when you can pull it off early in the season. After that first weekend, HS teams will come up for a month, mostly on the weekends or during the break until the last weekend of January and the week before Sections.

T-shirt for this years Ski Camp.
Preparing the base before the first weekend. Over the years you learn what areas to build up before the season starts. Corners, turns and, of course, south facing areas. This year Paulo from Brazil was here for the season to help out and was a absolute blessing.

Waxed up and ready to go. St Paul Highland Park Nordic ski team has been coming for over 10 years now, lead by coach Brad Moening. They will come regardless of the snow conditions and have always gone home improved. They really are a model program to me with the "Just Ski" mentality. With snowmaking and the capacity to have "perfect" conditions, people get in the mindset that you can only ski. Unfortunately, the opportunity to get better is lost when you don't open yourself to be challenged by adverse conditions and become better in the process.
A full day.
Coach Paulson and Moening. I have the the utmost respect for Nordic coaches, coaching in what I feel is the toughest sport. Finding time to train on snow, dealing with all levels of abilities, two types of techniques and throw in waxing...takes special people to make as season works. The teams always have great support from parents to volunteers.
There is always a time trial or a race on the weekend and one of the highlights for me to witness. Racing on a ski trail much difference than training. The deck has to be rock solid and if possible not icy.

With a full day of skiing for the kids, grooming gets a bit tricky. Most of the preparation is during the week to have everything set but staying on top of the grooming and touching up the deck is needed after 200 skiers make 5-6 passes on one trail. Most grooming has to be done between midnight and 5 am. Even then, I've often run into groups that early out for a morning ski.

Moorhead Nordic team set for a early morning headlamp ski.
With most metro schools getting early season training in on the machine made snow loops, there isn't natural snow skiing. It's pretty neat to see kids adventuring in the woods, off the beaten path. Many kids haven't been in a deep woods environment and the opportunity to experience nature in a different way.
The ski camp weekend can be a season maker for many kids. A opportunity to ski big time kilometers. Highland Park skiers proud of 100km skied on the weekend! Included in this group are family friends Cole and Jack Johnson. The first weekend always set the bar for teams later in the season as kids try to out do the others. Think the biggest km weekend was 150km. Having good conditions and the right weather is a big factor though. Kids might put in the same amount of hours but if cold and slow snow, tough to go big.
More adventure skiing. Good stuff.
With most teams coming up on busses, there is always bus issues. Not starting or gelling up and getting stuck or hung up the biggest problem but it always works out.  Above bus "stuck" despite a hard pack surface. Warm tires on warm silky snow not the best traction. The cloud of smoke is burning rubber!
After the second weekend we noticed black marks everywhere. We couldn't figure it until I discovered a black "glob" in the parking lot. The above bust that was burning rubber was throwing rubber pieces in the parking lot. When the sun came out, the rubber softened and picked up on ski boots when people walked through. Tracked into the lodge and cabins. Crazy stuff. Not sure we found all the rubber pieces but snow falling soon after took care of the problem for good.
Not a pleasant photo to post or to deal with but every year there is always something like this to deal with. Want to run a resort, be prepared to plunge toilets anytime of the day and clean up messes like above. This year was the worst with a virus spreading around and definitely a learning experience for the future.

Above team wasn't one that came to Maplelag but the team son Jake helped coach this year. Duluth Marshall made their first ever appearance at state and had a solid
Jake waxing skis the night before.

We always cheer a little louder for the teams that have training camps at Maplelag. St Paul Highland Park girls taking second at State. Love the post season photo playing hockey!
It wasn't a surprise that St Cloud Cathedral won state, led by the Nemeth brothers. Congrats to all teams this year. Nice job to all coaches, volunteers and everyone that helped make it a great year!

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