Nordic racing, vintage-style
I will be doing something for the first time this weekend, a 30-kilometer classic cross-country race. I will compete in the point-to-point classic race from Tahoe Cross Country to Northstar-at-Tahoe. Wait. Classic skiing? Whats that?Classic is the traditional style of cross-country skiing. You may recognize it from any vintage Alpine-set poster, you know, the Nordic skiers all in a row, all turtlenecks and smiles. Well, its kind of like that, featuring skiers with slightly (a lot) higher heart rates.Classic skiers stay in the tracks shifting their weight from ski to ski to move forward. To get up the hill, skiers use a sticky wax, known as kick wax, or the even stickier klister wax.Unlike the turtleneck-clad vintage poster skiers, classic ski racing is not to be confused with touring or walking on skis classic skiing is, depending on who you talk to, more aerobic than skate skiing. It also requires precise technique to get that wax to work. Its tough to learn, much harder than skate skiing (where skiers move in a skating motion), but, in my opinion, once it clicks, its the better of the two. But then again, its kind of like Ford or Chevy, Beatles or Elvis, apples or oranges.So, to say the least, Im excited about a chance to classic ski in a local race.My best cross country races in high school and college were always classic, but a much shorter distance usually 5- or 10-kilometer races. In fact, I was a master at winning the first kilometer of classic races, but unfortunately the race went longer. I loved the fast pace of my legs moving back and forth as they glided in the set tracks, having all my momentum going in one direction, the rewarding feeling I got when I managed to stay in the tracks all the way up that steep hill, switching to a double pole kick and then a double pole before I headed down the hill still locked in the tracks. But, like most people around here, I rarely classic ski let alone race classic.Why? Because its hard enough for me to find time to squeeze in a ski let alone find the time to fuss with messy, gets-everywhere klister. And, chances are I will pick the wrong type of wax and be slipping, not kicking, up every hill. When I go for a ski, I just grab my skate skis instead, missing out on one of the activities I like to do most. The majority of Nordic skiers only skate ski and I can usually spot them. Theyre those guys who ski in their bike jerseys and now I am one of them. Because of skatings popularity, the classic skier is a dying breed. But this may change.Thanks to Jeff Schloss, president of Far West Nordic, and his enthusiasm for classic, the race Sunday may trigger a comeback of the classic form.A big thank you goes out to Jeff, Tahoe Cross Country and Northstar-at-Tahoe Cross Country for making a solid effort to resuscitate this style by organizing what they hope to become the largest classic race in the West.Im sure I speak for a lot of racers when I say I anticipate my hip flexors and triceps to be incredibly sore Monday; but when the finish approaches, we will be some the few skiers to classic ski a 30-kilometer race in the Western United States this year. Pretty cool huh?Like they say: When was the last time you did something for the first time?Emma Garrard is a photographer at the Sierra Sun. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: 30-kilometer cross country and snowshoe race from Tahoe Cross Country to Northstar-at-Tahoe Cross Country.When: Sunday, Jan. 27, 8:30 a.m. (Classic), 9 a.m. (Skate/Snowshoe)Where: North Tahoe High SchoolFees: $45 by Jan. 26 ($10 Juniors), $60 on race day ($15 Juniors)
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