The past week of snow has brought winter to Grand County in full force. The hardy have been up in the high country for weeks but all were beginning to lose faith. Now normal has returned and we are again living in a winter paradise. Remember that honor comes with responsibility to both ourselves, our neighbors, and our visitors. Time to have your winter survival tips and equipment checklist posted on the closet door.
All the local Nordic areas are now open with almost all terrain available and tracked. Grand Lake opened last weekend and is now a picture postcard with 90-95 percent of terrain ready to welcome you. The YMCA will be at 100 percent this weekend with over three feet of new snow on Blue Ridge. The Devils Thumb will be at 100 percent this weekend with a base of over 25 inches. Great conditions for the Holidays!
The full moon also falls right after Christmas during the holiday week and Grand Lake will have their monthly Full Moon Ski on Friday, Dec. 28, with Devils Thumb and the FVMRD Pole Creek Golf Course on Dec. 29. The Grand Lake Touring Center is featuring a campfire, hot cocoa and marshmallows, and Chili served in the lodge until 7:30 p.m. Pole Creek starts their ski or snowshoe evening at 5 p.m. with Bistro 28 now open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights 4:30-8:30 p.m., call 970-887-9797 for reservations. Pole Creek has the greens roped off and winter XC skiing is allowed with your dog friends. Nothing is groomed but a trail will be marked for the full moon skis. Please respect the green closures.
Middle Park Nordic school teams
MPHS Coach Dave Zink stressed that the first three weeks of the regular season have been a bit of a training challenge for the Panther Nordic team, but some creativity and a welcome offer by Winter Park Resort kept the skiers on snow. Week one was back and forth on a 250 meter strip at the YMCA. Just as a warm spell threatened to end that meager opportunity for practice, the team was invited out to spend week number two at the base of Winter Park Resort. And finally, the snow gods offered up enough snow last week to enable the skilled grooming crew at the YMCA to provide some excellent conditions on the Panther's home venue. Now everyone is cruising.
On Dec. 15, the team answered the challenge of thin snow conditions with good results in the first race of the season although this was not an actual team event. Racing at the site of last year's state championships in Minturn on a four lap course, the snow became well churned by the end of the day. The 5km mass start skate competition looked like a bike race as slower skiers were lapped, but gave spectators the rare treat of constant action from the gun to the last finisher. A team record of 25 MPHS skiers started the race, with 29 on this season's roster.
The Middle Park women finished fifth out of 11 teams, with seniors Sera Smith (12th) and Elly Zietz (30th) finishing under the state qualifying mark, and senior Amelia Clancy providing the third place points for the team in 37th place. Four new Panther women skied their first high school race: Abrah Masterson, Rowen Gallagher, Sarah McClain and Bella Olsson.
The Panther men finished third out of 11 teams, with freshman Simon Zink (9th), senior Taber Miyauchi (10th), junior Steve Simmons (13th), sophomore Daniel Kopp (23rd), freshman Logan Miyauchi (33rd) and sophomore Kip Dearduff (41) all meeting the state qualifying time. Five Panther men skied their first high school race: Kyle Ciccarelli, Sawyer Cousineau, Ian Carver, Alex Law and Mark Simmons.
On the Middle School level, Coaches Karen Waschle and Jenny Beltman encourage any and all interested kids to try Nordic skiing or just come out to improve their Nordic skills. Equipment is provided at the Middle School level and parents are encouraged to help out. Holiday Vacation ski clinics sanctioned by Grand Nordic are scheduled for Christmas break and will give much needed daytime skiing opportunities. These kids normally practice after school under the lights which, in itself, is dedication. Their racing schedule gets started in January.
Go to the website egsd.org, click on your school, athletics, and Nordic skiing to get listings of schedules and information team members. Thanks to all volunteer coaches, assistants and helpers. The teams couldn't do it without you. Sign up to help at the Feb. 14-15, 2013 State Meet hosted by MPHS. There's a job for everyone!
Winter Park Nordic Team
From coach Mike Berman: This winter season begins the seventh year for the "Winter Park Nordic Team", a group of kids who skate like the wind Sunday mornings at DTR or Snow Mountain. The parents do the work, from coaching and team management to serving as kid wranglers for the younger skiers. WPNT exists to make sure young skiers have fun on Nordic skis and also learn to ski well. Skiers often participate in citizens races during the winter. Lucky for the coaches experienced team members have learned patience as well, while they wait for the coaches to catch up. Young skiers need to have a basic ability to track skate ski before joining. Interested skiers can learn more about WPNT at their website WPNordicTeam.org or call the team manager, Carol Abbott at 303-399-3033. Look for the team logo and hats on those junior skiers whizzing by you on the tracks.