Technique is a huge challenge for me. It is the area of my skiing that my coaches and I see the biggest opportunity to make gains. The best way to make gains in cross country skiing technique is to cross country ski. As such, I have done a lot of travel to snow during the northern hemisphere summer over the past three seasons. Here are the places I have skied and my thoughts about them.
Mt. Bachelor outside of Bend generally holds snow into the middle of June. There isn’t any lodging at the resort, but it’s only a 30 minute drive from the happening city of Bend. The trails are rolling and it generally freezes at night. It’s good to get on snow early, while it’s still fast and hard. Afternoon skiing is generally not recommended, but the dryland training in Bend, especially the mountain biking, is wonderful. The crust skiing can also be great from Mt. Bachelor, conditions depending. I’m excited to be skiing at Mt. Bachelor now.
Last September I joined the Maine Winter Sports Center team for a camp on Stelvio Pass on the Swiss-Italian border. It is HIGH! We lived at the highest hotel, which means we could ski from the door, but it also meant we were living at about 10,300′. All of the skiing is up from there. The trails are between 10,500′ and 10,900′. I was able to handle the altitude without too much trouble, and I had a productive training camp. However, my coaches and I were very conservative with training. Also, I grew up living at 8,000′ and training at that elevation and higher. I believe Stelvio is too high to do effective training for anybody not used to the altitude. Beyond that, the trails were great with only very gradual hills, ideal for skiing at that altitude. It takes two tram rides up from the top of the pass to get to the hotel. As with many European hotels, all three meals are served there and can be purchased in a package deal with the room. The views from the glacier are stunning.
The Snow Farm in New Zealand is the best place that I’ve ever trained for skiing in July through September. Of course, it’s winter down there, so the skiing is on mid-winter snow. Glacier skiing is not a bad option, but it’s not the same as skiing on the same snow we race on all winter. New Zealand offers race quality snow, trails and grooming. When they have good snow they groom about 30 kilometers. The terrain is gentle, ideal for putting in long hours. The views are gorgeous. The best option for lodging is the lodge located on the trails. They have a meal plan that can include all three meals. It’s a 30 minute drive down a winding dirt road to the nearest town of Wanaka, so it is very isolated. Of course, the travel to New Zealand is long and expensive. I am hoping to be headed back to New Zealand in August.
– Eagle Glacier, Girdwood, Alaska
– Oberhof Ski Tunnel, Germany
– Dachstein Glacier, Ramsau, Austria
– Sognefjell Snow Field, Norway
– Torsby Ski Tunnel, Sweden
– Canmore, Alberta, Frozen Thunder