ilg wooden ski classic 2011

The morning after the Langlauf, another heaven-sent local event in Durango greeted me: the 2nd Annual Wooden Ski Classic held at Vallecito Nordic Area, about a 25 minute motor up the Florida River Valley from my casa… photo by Beth

vallecito winter

the skiing here – on both impeccably groomed classic and skate – is by donation only…open to both two and four-legged’s. all grooming is done by volunteers and all donations go directly to trail maintenance…because, at least in Durango?  we CARE about the world’s original form of skiing!   Vallecito Lake in the foreground…one of Durango’s major summer time draws.

vallecito track

here…unlike the Durango Nordic Center, the trails are gradual inclines and declines for the most part and include peripheral classic tracks which dance beneath towering Ponderosa….it kinda reminds me of Flagstaff Nordic Center except that it is next to a lake.

wooden ski classic 2

Race Director Dom, who finished 5th place overall in yesterday’s 30k Langlauf, styling in his old-school garb, giving last minute Course Directions.  This is a multi-disciplined event including a LeMann’s start after fetching your skis out of powder,  classic skiing on your wood skis and 3-pin bindings around a challenging 3.5k groomed and off track course, then, doing a ‘biathlon moment’ whereupon we had to chuck our ski poles at balloons…if we missed?  a 500-meter penalty lap had to be skied, then another 3.5k lap, then you had to answer some ski/mountaineering trivia questions…if you missed those, another penalty lap. the final ‘event’ was eating crackers then having to whistle “Yankee Doodle Dandy”…

How The Race Unfolded:

at the LeMann’s start, i got the hole shot and my transition into my skis and poles was Mt. Taylor fast…i began double and single-poling upon the initial 1.5k climb “like a madman possessed,” as my friend and Tour de France commentator, Paul Sherwyn would say.  i knew Dom might be a wee bit worked from being Race Director and having raced a great 30k yesterday, so i pulled all my HP Yoga™ PROP WORKOUT core training and poled like a demon…sadly, i was going so fast that i missed the first turnoff!  i’d have to make it up on Penalty Laps!  aaaargh!    i was just so stoked to be ski racing again on the same wood-and-leather setup that i grew up on that i guess my spirit outmatched my logic (which would soon repeat itself again in the Trivia section upcoming).

Biathlon Transition; nothing goes pop:

i had four chances to fling my ski poles at  balloons to pop them.  i missed narrowly on each and off i went onto the Penalty Loop…watching my next chaser,  Dom – who handily beat the GoreTex™ pants off me at the 42k Tour de Ski 3 weeks ago – arrive at the biathlon station…knowing he was so close inspired me to really animate my skiing as i launched myself onto the second 3.5k lap with verve…i skied relaxed,  Mantra entrenched and breath easy. i felt fit…strong…and capable…a very go(o)d feeling especially when you are leading the race!

Trivia Transition:  whereupon nothing ever really changes after chi-ldhood…

skiing first into the Start/Finish area, the only person there was the photographer who really didn’t know what to do, so i coached her into asking me the mandatory Trivia Questions…i got one, failed the next.  off to the Penalty Loop area where i also skied exact laps to make up for my missed course mistake.  During the Penalty ski, i crushed the Loop reflecting back on consecutive Teacher Report Card inputs from my chi-ldhood which ALWAYS – for years – expressed the same observation:

“Steven is a very bright child.  He consistently demonstrates a remarkably agile and creative mind yet is failing because he is simply not applying himself to the lessons.”

duh.  that’s because i was watching with empathy the graceful slide of snowflakes shimmering like so many jewels outside the classroom window…wondering how many more minutes must i remain caged inside this prison before i can get out and ski and snowshoe among the quivering pine branches and laced river valleys with my black wolf, Apache?”

Whistling Transition:  whereupon i nearly lose the Race…

by the time i had finished venting my chi-ldhood anger at the injustice of It All,  Jim Nichols had reached the Final Transition; the Eat-A-Bunch-Of-Crackers-And-Then-Whistle-Yankee-Doodle-Dandy.  i hammered down my crackers which tasted to me for all the world like Catholic Church holy communion wafers, and spit-whistled my best Yankee-Doodle-Dandy secretly wishing the tune could have been something more yogically appropriate like, say, “Para Gaté, Bodhisattva” or something.

After a few tense and ear-drum horrific moment’s Jim and i ended up sprinting for the Finish Line a mere 10 meter’s away to finish in a tie for first place.

Om Namah Ganesha, Jai Jai!

Next year?  i’ll know the Course AND, i’ll be sure to be sportin’ some rad old-school cord knickers, baby!

wood skis

Long Live Wooden Skis and Blue Skies!!  (my planks are the killer blue Asnes from Norway, crossed on photo far right)

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