Ok, I`ll admit it, the skis are thinner, poles are longer, and yes they ski uphill – on purpose! These are the differences from our downhill brothers and sisters, and this is cross country, AKA Nordic skiing.
Michigan has a very active nordic community with every imaginable recreational venue. Whether you are interested in a leisurely outing with friends, or want to burn a few calories while enjoying the non impact benefits of gliding along the trail, nordic skiing has it all. Alongside recreation you`ll find a competitive spirit as well where skiers challenge themselves to be the best they can be. Competing locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, nordic skiers from Michigan rise each season to challenge themselves at all levels. These opportunities are available to all skiers including Jr skiers – even if you have no club, school team, or are a homeschooler. Just go down to you local shop and start asking questions about how to get involved. You can be new to this Nordic thing or you may be interested in competing and entering the USSA nordic pipeline to the national team with a goal of an Olympic medal. What ever your reason you`ll be glad you took that first step on the trail.
Inspired by accomplishments of The mens and womens U.S.A. Nordic Team on the world circuit as they prepare for the winter games in Sochi Russia, there is a spark in the nordic communities of Michigan. That spark of enthusiasm led to action, and in Traverse City Michigan the result was a Nordic Ski Fest! An event initiated a few years ago by Eli Brown, former University of Utah director of skiing, and now Michigan resident. Nordic Ski Fest took place on October 26th and is the first sanctioned race for the ’13/’14 season, giving competitors points toward the Michigan Cup Race Series.
When not with his family, helping out the U.S. Nordic Team, or working with Traverse City Based company KEEN Technical Solutions, Eli shares his enthusiasm for Nordic skiing with the local community. This year was no different, and the event, held at Brick Wheels, a local hub serving both the cycling, and skiing communities has begun to receive some national attention.
In cooperation with local skating arenas, snow from the Zamboni was stored in an insulated semi trailer for a week and then moved to the event site – much like a pre-season rail jam. A 200 meter serpentine snow track that faced head to head competitions, provided the first seasonal venue for the Michigan Cup nordic race series, and saw the first competition of snow bike vs Nordic skier!
The event also featured a nordic ski swap, and equipment sale which helps support a growing Jr. Nordic program. Throw in some music, Eli broadcasting the play by play, support by the local VASA Ski Club crews and you have an event that gives the local nordic community a perfect afternoon of doing what they love to do. Sharing the fun of an active lifestyle on the snow, and passing that enthusiasm to the next generation. A great day of skiing, with talk already of what to add next year!
Hours after the event ended, the crowd and music diminished, the course broken down to nothing but a simple snow track maybe the real purpose of the event is revealed. A group of young skiers, manning shovels, racing around the track, building jumps and cheering anyone able to land that 360. No structured training, no sports specific drills, just fun on the snow as the light fades… ski memories in the making.
So the skis are thinner, the poles are longer, and that boot heel is not attached. There are differences to our downhill counterparts, but passion for being on the snow, sharing epic moments with friends, and challenging yourself to be the best you can be are all things shared as the new generation discovers the joy of being outside on the snow, creating their own ski dreams along the way Nordic style…
(Michigan jr skiers from great lakes division team taking on skiers from Wisconsin to new York at the Eastern Championships in New Hampshire 2013: Logan Zueger, Clay Darling, Ian Durand, Ben Wright, Erin Lipp, Sarah Goble, Bethany Wright, Carly Bulliet)
Written by: Nordic Soigneur