Sawtooth Ski Race

It has been a couple weeks now, since Daniel and I helped with the Sawtooth 29th annual international ski races at Pincushion mountain. (see video below)

Pincushion ski trails are about 2 miles up the Gunflint Trail overlooking Grand Marais.   They’ve been maintained as ski, running, and bike trails for about 30 years by a volunteer organization called the North Superior Ski and Run Club (NSSR).   I am especially fond of this great group of volunteers because of all that they have done for the kids of the community–including Shelby.

Dick Swanson  has been the Incident Commander of the Race since I’ve been helping—I suspect maybe he’s run all 29 races, but I don’t know for sure.  I like to call him IC Dick, but he hasn’t actually had the training, or he would know that an Incident Commander supposed to be in charge of 5-7 people, instead of the whole show.  His commanding is  impressive, and my favorite spot is standing right next to him in the timing window, so that I am free to heckle.   This year he was also doing the announcing AND the start, which is tricky.  But he’s up for it.  (I took the photo off the internet, because I liked it better than mine, so you’ll just have to imagine him without the beard).

I hold him and the others of the NSSR club responsible for Shelby’s joyful leap –with a bunch of girls that went to the State Tournament Nordic Ski race.  NSSR Club efforts to support the kids of Cook County, with gear and groomed trails,  races and volunteers have enabled her to participate in this life long sport.  To say we’re grateful is an understatement.

The trails that Saturday were a  most beautiful system of white snow, of blue sky, pines and  birches.  The conditions were perfect–as they have been  for most of the season.   The video below is mostly taken at  the beginning of the 20K skate race, and I suspect Ben Seaton would like to point out that it isn’t nearly representing the order in which they finished–but you can see that there was some fairly impressive skate skiing going on.  (I also borrowed a couple of photos from the NSSR homepage, just for the sake of rounding out the story).

I tried skate skiing (freestyle) last winter when my friend Carrie lent me some skis and some free instruction.  It’s tricky, but thought I had the rhythm….I did have the rhythm, and was getting a dandy aerobic workout, and feeling the pride that comes from learning something new—when I looked next to me at the classic tracks where a little girl was learning how to ski classic (straight on) style, and her dad was cheering her on.  She must have been all of 3 years old, and she trudged straight up the hill while I had my rhythm going—apparently I had really good lateral progress.   Anyway, she left me in the dust, and for now, I just stick to my trusty classic skis.

My time to enjoy the trails comes after the racers have gone home.  It was a magical day.

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