Guest Blogger, Catherine McLynn, Board Member of Northern Lights Nordic Ski Club, Mt. Itasca Youth Ski League, and Itasca Ski and Outing Club dba Mt. Itasca, share her experience and thoughts about nordic skiing in the Grand Rapids area: “Nordic skiing is a highly technical sport that anyone can do if they can walk, but it can be done well ONLY by those willing to accept the challenges of being outdoors in winter, sliding at high speed downhill on toothpicks and having to go up the next hill on those same slippery boards. There is always something to practice to get better at doing, always more aerobic conditioning to develop, always new trails to discover and new friends to meet who enjoy the same always new adventures. And especially when you are by yourself on a moonlight or starlight night skiing in the woods, there is nothing more exhiliarating that inhaling cold crisp air and having frosty eyelids but being warm from the active exercise. I have enjoyed skiing with my three children and now with 12 grandchildren as well as going to their hockey games and skating shows. Winter is just too short for a skier!”
February is here! And for many it is considered the best month of the winter for cross-country skiing. There is more daylight at the end of the day for skiing after school or work. The temperatures are mild. And there is ALWAYS enough snow for great grooming of the trails! So if you have not already been skiing for the past two months, don’t wait another day to snap into the “skinny skis” to enjoy the best month of winter! If you are a skier, the winter is too short!
Northern Lights Nordic Ski Club
Northern Lights Nordic Ski Club hosts a website on which you can find a list of the trails in Itasca County. Current trail conditions are reported by our volunteer groomers and skiers. Check out www.NorthernLightsNordic.org and the state Nordic website www.skinnyski.com where trail reports and race results are viewed by thousands statewide. The website lists each trail with a description and rating for beginners or advanced and directions to find your way. A Minnesota Ski Trail Pass is required for skiers 16 and older. They can be purchased at any electronic licensing center where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Download the Northern Lights Nordic Ski Trail Maps.
This year our club groomers were able to make many of our trail systems skiable by Christmas even though snowfall was sparse. Volunteers at Mount Itasca made snow in November so they were able to host a biathlon race the weekend of December 12. For the next 10 days, skiers came from all over the state to get in some practice time on snow. And on December 22 over 600 high school skiers from 20 schools participated in the Grand Rapids High School Nordic Invitational. Except for snowmaking venues in the metro area, no one else in the state had enough snow! And now with the two January weekends of bitter cold weather behind us and more snow in the forecast, we can get out and really enjoy sliding along the forest hills and trails. In fact, this past weekend was perfect for moonlight skiing.
Mt. Itasca Youth Ski League hosts a winter program for children ages 4 to 14 years of age. The program began on Jan. 4 and will continue on all Sunday afternoons in February from 1 to 3 pm. This year there are 150 registered youth skiers, 15 coaches and many parent helpers. Together they enjoy ski skills drills, games, relay races and trail adventures. They learn care of their equipment and trail courtesy. And they love cocoa and cookies with their new friends afterwards. For more information check out www.mysl.org and more photos on Mt. Itasca Youth Ski League Facebook page.