Early Nordic skiing beats expectations | SierraSun.com

Early Nordic skiing beats expectations

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunJudy Rabinowitz, a former Olympian, classic skis in Euer Valley at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Tuesday. The center opened Saturday with 33 kilometers of groomed trails.

I couldn’t wait for the trails to open. After my last triathlon race in October, I needed something different, which is usually just in time for the Nordic centers to open. Not in 2007.

Auburn Ski Club and Royal Gorge, usually the first centers to open, did not groom trails until this past Friday. When I saw the parking lot at Auburn Ski Club full on Friday, I started salivating, but I would have to wait a few days.

I was the first to pull into the parking lot at Tahoe Donner Cross County at 8:20 a.m. Sunday for my first day of the season on skinny skis. I was surprised, as I am not a morning person, and I was expecting to tag along with someone I knew. After putting on my boots and heading to the lodge, the cars started trickling in.

Honestly I wasn’t expecting much. In fact, anything would do. I didn’t even know if they had groomed. I also didn’t know what kind of warm glide wax was left on my skis from last year, and the temperature was in the teens. I was told there was approximately 30 kilometers of groomed trail.

A couple cans from my kitchen got me a ski pass for the day, as the cross-country center was hosting a canned food drive ” not a bad deal. I was on my way.

I felt great, and was surprised how easy it felt to be back on skis. The weather was cold and clear and there were barely any rocks on the trail. It was great conditions for classic skiing, which is rare in Tahoe.

The trails were also empty and it was good to only hear the sound of my skis gliding ” well, kind of creaking because of my warm wax ” on the snow, instead of headphones, chairlifts and snow-making machines.

I headed up Pony Express, where I was faced with the decision of going up or down. I chose the easier option of skiing down to Euer Valley, knowing it would be tough coming back out.

After descending I started to ski around the valley, still seeing no one. After about 45 minutes I was starting to get tired, stopped on the trail and saw another skier skating behind me ” the only skier I saw until I headed out of Euer Valley.

Turns out almost every Nordic skier I know in Tahoe was out there on Sunday, as I passed them while skiing back to the lodge.

The parking lot was overflowing when I returned to my car. I was reluctant to leave and go to the office, but I was glowing from the first day on trails and anticipation of a new season.

Auburn Ski Club

Open with 3 kilometers of cold, dry and well-packed groomed trail. Check out the first high school races of the season on Friday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country

Opened Saturday with 33 kilometers of groomed trail.

Tahoe Cross Country

Opened Saturday with 8 kilometers of groomed trail.

Northstar-at-Tahoe Cross Country

Opening Saturday, Dec. 15 with an estimated 25 to 30 kilometers of groomed trail.

Royal Gorge

Opened Saturday with 71 kilometers of groomed trail.

Spooner Cross County

Opening Dec. 14, with 14 inches of fresh snow.

Kirkwood Cross Country

Opened Saturday with 5 kilometers of groomed ski trails and 30 kilometers of snowshoe trails.

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