Welcome to Far West Nordic!

The Sierra Nevada: Cross Country Skiing Paradise. That's where we play, and some of us are even lucky enough to live and work there. There's not a mountain range on Earth that has a better combination of snow, terrain, and weather for nordic skiing. I recently had the pleasure of skiing with the two fastest skiers in the western hemisphere (at the largest xc ski resort on this side of the planet), when one of them turned to me and said, "I don't see why people who like to ski would live anywhere else." This remark,

mind you, was from a skier who has raced all over the world, grew up in a nordic community in New England, and now calls the Sierra Nevada his home. As we skied on just-about perfect corduroy, in November, wearing a light top, wind vest, and sunscreen, I fully realized how lucky we are to call the Sierra our nordic playground.

On that note, we'd like to welcome you to our Year 2001 edition of Nordic News from the Far West Nordic Ski Education Association. As I write this introduction, after skiing another few hours in beautiful late Autumn conditions, I can feel how anxious we all are to get the "real" season of skiing underway, where every resort is fully open and we're all not wondering whether or not the next snowstorm will finally put our snowpack worries to rest.

This magazine is designed to get you ready for the snow, whether you're a full-on racer, a citizen competitor, or a weekend ski tourer. We've collected quite a few great articles from some of the best skiers and coaches in the region: on technique (see Jeff Schloss's Training for the Big Picture on page 10); about one of our great local ski clubs (see Bill Clark's article on Auburn Ski Club on page 12); or about kid's racing (see Nancy Case's "Winning By Her Own Definition" on page 17); and many more. Plus, there's lots of important information about our own Sierra Ski Chase, Master's Team Criteria, the new Springloppet Race Series, and, of course, our full Far West Race Schedule on page 19.

Most importantly, we've included 2000/2001 Membership Form on the opposite page for you to fill out and send back to us (with a check, cash, or money order, of course), so we can include you in the ever-growing ranks of cross country skiers who want to continue to support our great organization. Your membership helps us fund our important Junior Nordic Programs, and to complete our mission to "promote the sport of cross country skiing in our part of the world." We provide opportunities for athlete skill development, provide coaches' education, endorse Junior, Senior, and Master regional competition teams, and promote cross country ski racing.

Join us in our endeavors. Become a Far West Nordic member and enjoy the many benefits of membership. And appreciate, with us, our wonderful, snow covered trails.

Mark Nadell
Editor, Far West Nordic News

Forget the Skis...

Stone Grind Your Body for Speed

by Mark Nadell

We hear so much these days about getting your skis stone ground. It seems as if that everybody’s doing it, and if you don’t, you can forget having fast boards. Whether you send them to Nat Brown’s Nordic Ultra-Tune, or Torbjorn Karlsen’s Nordic Equipment Inc., or even down the street to your local alpine ski shop (not recommended), you’ll have a choice of entree’s that make ordering at a Chinese restaurant look simple.

But have you ever tried to choose a grind from their menu? Talk about uninspired marketing tactics! You can choose NEI’s G4 All-Around Grind, or maybe Nordic Ultra-Tune’s LJ03 strikes your fancy. Or perhaps you’d like a side order of ML02 to go along with your G5 All-Around Cold Grind with Fine Micro Rills. And don’t forget the egg rolls.
As much as we get caught up in the fun of it all, trying to shave seconds off your time by having some guy in a basement run your precious boards between a rock and a hard place is an alluring temptation. But maybe, just maybe, if we spent a little more time on the engine instead of the wheels, we could cut our race times down by minutes—not seconds.

In that spirit, we at Far West Nordic have decided that we’re going into the Grinding Business. But it’s not your skis that are going to get ground. It’ll be your body. And even more in the spirit of things, we’re not naming our grind patterns after a combination of meaningless letters and numerals. No, we’re going after the reality market, where what you see is what you get. Following is just a sample menu of what you’ll get to choose from at the Far West Grind Palace…

Coffee Ground

This is the one to jumpstart your ski day. Once you’ve ground your body with this pattern, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your race starts. So what if you notice yourself talking a little fast at the starting line. When you leave those competitors in the dust in the first couple of K’s, they’ll be talking to themselves. Just a couple of warnings about this particular grind, however. It’s not recommended for races longer than about 10 kilometers in length. It’s an especially good grind for the new sprint style races, however. Also, make sure you’ve hit the restroom right before the race, or else you’ll be sorry. Available in Mocha, Latté, and Americano patterns.
the packet of GU you had taped to your bib. Next thing you know—Ground Zero nuclear explosion. Radioactivity never felt so bad as when you end up limping to the finish line, your blood sugar waning, and your body screaming at you that you should’ve had a little more for breakfast than the Granola Bar you wolfed down in the car. Available in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Manhattan Project pattern variations.


Fast becoming one of our more popular grinds, the GroundSwell has growing grass roots popularity going for it. Characterized by its distinctive wave pattern, it’s been called the Tsunami of our grind menu.

Nose to the GRINDstone

We’ve all experienced this one. You’re skiing along just fine and dandy, feeling pretty good about your chances to finally beat that 14 year old who’s trashed you in the last 3 Great Race events. Then it happens—the dreaded ski pole between the legs. And even though the nose hits first, it’s often other, even more sensitive, body parts that find out that the icy trail you’re racing on isn’t much softer than the pavement you roller skied on last fall. Hey, they don’t call it Sierra Cement for nothing.

Ground Chuck

Named after a famous Far West racer from the late 80’s, the chuckster is the classic tale of overtraining. Day after day, kilometer after kilometer, he would train at a pace that would make World Cup racers blanch in horror. “Rest days are for sissies,” would be his motto. Whether it was a 3 hour roller ski in the fall, a five hour road ride in the summer, or 2-a-day interval sessions on snow in the winter, it all led to one inevitable result—the Ground Chuck. And no amount of coffee grind on top of this pattern was going to reverse the process of racing deceleration. Sometimes, too much of a good thing really is “too much.”

Higher Ground

This grind was popularized in the late 60’s, and was re-introduced by some of my buddies in the 90’s. Characterized by a tendency to “stop for a little break” every now and then, the Higher Ground has been called the true stoned grind. Users of the HG have been known to have exhibit an “unevenness” of speed, sometimes going fast, sometimes slow, but always having fun, even if they’re the only ones who seem to think so. And the downhills seem to be especially exciting when using this particular model.

These are just a few of the grind possibilities we’ve discovered. We’re sure you can come up with many of your own, possibly including the Meat Grind, the Pepper Grind, or even the Worship the Grind You Walk On. Let us know if you come up with any others, and be sure to use at least one this winter to shave those seconds.

Destination: DownUnder

by Sally Jones

Who, in their right mind, would leave summer in California to jump back into winter ? Last August, six intrepid junior skiers from Auburn Ski Club did…and all want to do it again!Dana Mosman, Dan Adams & Katie Chaplin of Nevada City; Phillip Violett of Brownsville; and Whitney Prosor & Kayla Evans of Truckee spent two and a half weeks with trip leader Sally Jones in the mountains of New Zealand. The crew, known as “Team USA” to the locals, were living in the hills between the South Island towns of Queenstown & Wanaka at the Waiorau Snow Farm.

What we soon discovered is that summer training takes on a whole new form when you can live in a luxury mountain lodge with 50km of immaculately groomed ski trails out your back door. The hardest part of the trip was actually forcing ourselves not to over-do the training, especially when the air was crisp, the sky blue, the snow fast, and the waxing easy. OK, so it wasn’t always that perfect, but we were certainly lucky with conditions. A couple of storms topped us up with fresh snow and showed us how hard it can blow when you are skiing above the tree line.

Our plan was, of course, to make the most of the skiing opportunity, but also to explore the local sights, and to experience the culture of this little Pacific nation of just 3 million people and 70 million sheep.

Friendships were made quickly with the local ski team. Even on the first night, after dinner, several ASC & Waiorau junior team jackets were seen skiing off into the dark. It didn’t take them long to realize there are no lights for night skiing in New Zealand! Everyone agreed that night skiing is easier with a full moon.

Unfortunately our rental van, with its frozen engine full of wind blown snow, prevented us from making it to our day at the local school, but everyone got to spend a night with a local family. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see some junior Kiwis appearing in the Far West soon, thanks to the friendships made.

Our team was soon to discover that there is never a dull moment at Waiorau.

In addition to the skiing operations, there are separate roads used for winter tire & vehicle testing by companies from all over the world. Team USA took 2nd place in the very fun annual Winter Testing Olympic obstacle race against company teams from Japan, Germany, France, Korea & USA. We would have cleaned up the night sprints if we hadn’t accepted the handicap of racing on the tandem skis (where 2 skiers clip into 2 sets of bindings on the same pair of skis). I think we came in last! Our biathlon efforts were almost as admirable. Under the watchful eye of Odd Lirhus, a former Norwegian National coach & World Champion, some (who will remain anonymous) still managed to miss all if not most of the targets. (My excuses crumbled when Odd shot clean with the same rifle!)

In the Merino Muster International Ski Race we lined up with the locals and skiers from Norway, Australia, Denmark, Britain, Canada, Poland, Italy, and… the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is an avid xc skier, who managed to escape government duties for the weekend to join us in the festivities.

This all sounds like way too much fun. There was serious training too, following the Far West plans of course: Our trip to Milford Sound in Fiordland resulted in a 4 hour upper body strength workout (including lunch), paddling kayaks around the inlets to see cascading waterfalls, seals & penguins. Our main endurance workout was facing the “Perfect Storm” type conditions on the boat trip over to see the glow worm caves. Level 5 intervals (level 6 for Katie, I think) were recorded on the Jet boat experience, where we were dodging overhangs, rock faces and rapids at what felt like supersonic speed.

The trip was obviously a huge success. The grins & laughter told me that everyone had a great time. The time on snow was definitely invaluable to all. We could comfortably ski twice a day most days, with a rest or sleep between workouts. I saw some important technique breakthroughs for some. As a result, a few higher personal goals have been set. By entering several races “just for fun” we had a rare opportunity to be able to really focus on form rather than results. Our skiers did come home with several prizes & medals, but more importantly experienced skiing a whole race relying on good technique.

I was truly proud to be leading such a special group of young athletes. Thanks guys! You were excellent ambassadors of our sport, club, division, and nation…and, you were fun to be with, too! Let’s do it all again sometime.

If anyone is interested in a 2001 trip, give me a call at (530) 426 3313.

Sally Jones is the Director of Nordic Skiing at Auburn Ski Club.

The Zen of Skiing

by Debbi Waldear

Cross country skiing is a perfect chance to quietly go out of your mind, a time to leave the rational mind behind for awhile. Let go of the hustle and bustle of daily life and allow yourself to experience the joys of gliding on snow. That wonderful slippery substance we take such pleasure from. Become part of the movement of the winter environment.

Concentrate on the motions of skiing. Feel yourself pushing hard to glide those extra few feet. Be aware of the economy of using your body weight to glide throughout each stride. Become aware of your lungs expanding and contracting, creating a rhythm. Appreciate the variety of speed and force you can use to move foreword on your skis. Relax and glide during the recovery stage.

Remember that at least 90% of your ski training should be moderate, at a level where you can talk easily while skiing (your heart rate should be around 110 to 140 beats per minute). This is the time to think about your ski technique. Where is your body positioned in relation to your skis? Are you balanced over the ski ? Are your ankles flexed forward and driving in the direction of travel? Are your arms, shoulders and upper body leading you down the track. Let the arms push all the way through and float back up in a relaxed motion.

There’s also a time to luxuriate in the serene surroundings of the mountains. After all, didn’t we seek cross country skiing because we love the snow and the Sierra? Let yourself discover the shapes, colors and dimensions of the winter. Most likely the views are outstanding; allow yourself to ponder on the vistas. Winter brings cool winds, great moving clouds and falling snow—relish them as you ski. Become part of the winter drama. Check out the wildlife track in the snow. Pay close attention; maybe you will see a thick, shinny coyote or a weasel already turned white.

Yet another zone is leaving the rational mind behind to totally concentrate to driving yourself to your limits. This occurs during a race or those short windows of time in your training when you go all-out. All your focus goes to skiing as hard as you can. Don’t lose that point of convergence, not for a second. This form of meditation is very intense; there is nothing else but you moving on your skis.

Spend some time spinning out on your skis this winter. Derive joy from another level of skiing and your thoughts.

Debbi Waldear is the director of skiing at Kirkwood Cross Country, and is a Masters World Champion racer.

A Well-Rounded Skier Needs a “Quiver”

By Debbi Waldear

A quiver of skis is a must for a well-rounded skier. Many avid skiers of today enjoy all disciplines of skiing, which leads to the need of many, many pairs of skis. Usually, cross country skiing is divided into four categories, which would lead you to think that you would be fine with four pair of skis. Wrong! There’s a lot more to it than that.

The general divisions of ski disciplines are:

1) the casual ski tourer, the backyard skier who goes out for a little exercise over gentle terrain.

2) the track skier, the racer performance-oriented skier who likes to move fast, powered by muscle.

3) the backcountry skier, who enjoys traveling over snow as much as hiking in the summer.

4) the mountaineer, the one who climbs straight up for the thrill of skiing down.

Sounds simple? The catch is that each discipline requires a variety of skis to cover all snow/terrain situations. The casual skier usually has a pair of waxless, medium-width skis, and possibly something a little wider for deep snow. The track skier requires a waxless ski for those icky days, a pair of classic skis, possibly a pair for klister conditions, plus skate skis. Racers have lots of skis. The avid backcountry skier need a good pair of waxless skis, usually metal edge, a pair of “shaped” skis for turns and possibly something a little wider and stable for carrying a pack. For mountaineering usually a stiff and a soft pair of shaped skis will do. A skier that does it all will have a quiver of at least a dozen skis.

Skate Ski Drills

Improve your Technique With these Great Tips

by Jeff Schloss

When I am coaching ski racers and say that it is time to do some skating drills, the athletes often give me a look that is all to easy to read: “Oh coach, can’t we just ski!” Of course, most of us would rather “just go skiing” than work on our weaknesses; however, I will boldly say that if you work on these 4 drills below you will improve your skating in a huge way. For maximum benefit these drills should be done at the start of your ski session and should be done for 10-15 minutes before launching off on your workout. I like to do these almost every time I skate for the first 5 days on snow, and then maybe every third time skating after that.

Drill #1: Balance Warm Up

This simple drill is good for classic and skating. Find a slight down hill and start by gliding down it in a good athletic stance. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Flex your ankles and knees forward while pressing your hips forward, weight even over the middle of both feet, upper body relaxed and slightly forward, and back slightly rounded.) Lift one ski off the ground and stay in that athletic stance as you glide as far as possible on 1 foot. You should be looking about 10 meters in front of you (not down at your ski) and should keep your knee right over your ski. Do this a few times on each ski. If it seems pretty easy try a little steeper hill or, for you really balanced folks, try closing your eyes and see how you do.

Balance is the foundation for all skiing, and is a learned skill that needs to be practiced to improve. Also I find that my balance needs to be warmed up just like the rest of me, so this drill is a good starter.

Drill #2: No Pole Body Position Drill

For this drill you want a nice flat area. Put your poles aside and get into your athletic stance. Position your hands on your hips or low in front of you and start to skate from ski to ski. You should flex at the ankle and fall diagonally onto the new ski. Make sure that there is positive and committed weight transfer onto the new leg and that the knee is bent and the hip presses forward up over the foot, not behind the foot. The hips should be square to the direction of travel. In order to keep the hips pointing down the track you should immediately bring the leg forward after pushing off. All of this sounds complicated, but its really just skating without poles and making sure we keep a good body position, with our hips and shoulders facing down the track.

Drill # 3: Speed Skater Drill

This is my favorite skating drill. In a flat area, put the poles aside and skate without poles. Now begin to swing your arms forward and backwards like a speedskater. As the left ski goes forward the right arm goes forward over the left ski, then the right leg goes forward and the left arm. The hands should dynamically reach out in front of you and should then extend equally far behind you. Concentrate on keeping the hands low and not crossing the arms across the body. When your hand is all the way in front of you it should be directly over the gliding ski. The body should be very low and forward and the knees should be very bent forward. The idea here is to ski with the same good body position we had in the last drill but to work on adding power to the motion. The arm swing will help with weight transfer but to really get power we need to exaggerate the leg push off. Really compress the leg by flexing the ankle and knee forward then give a good push off from the whole foot, not just the toe. Remember to land on a flat ski before rolling to the inside edge to push off. Go ahead and speed skate around like Eric Heiden, with powerful push offs and dynamic arm swings. This is fast, fun, and a great drill for learning how to really use our legs in skating.

Drill # 4: No Pole Skating with V1, V2 Arm Motions

We are going to skate without poles again, but now we are going to incorporate the upper body as if we had poles in our hands. Keep the good body position from drill #2 and the good leg push off from drill #3 but now let the upper body move as if it were poling. Mix up your poling by doing some V1 on slight uphills and then try V2 or V2 alternate arm motions on the flat. This drill is a favorite of Norwegian gold medalist Thomas Alsgaard. Thomas will often ski whole workouts doing this drill and matching his arm polling with the terrain.

Drills one through three are good for all abilities of skaters and advanced skaters should add # 4. So the next time you skate, get a leg up on your competition by practicing these drills. They don’t seem to have hurt Alsgaard!

Training for the “Big Picture”

Train Hard • Train Smart

by Jeff Schloss

When I think about the big picture of training for xc ski racing, two somewhat harsh realities come to mind.The first is that cross country ski racing is so aerobically demanding that you cannot excel without a hefty amount of training. Perhaps for the younger juniors, where the races are

shorter and physical development is very uneven across age groups, an individual may be able to achieve some success without training as much as his peers. But over the long haul, the dedicated trainer will pass the more gifted, but less dedicated, every time. The other reality is that random, unplanned training will only take you so far. If someone really wants to improve in our difficult sport, they will benefit far more from a planned regime than from just going out there and pounding their head against the training wall. So with those thoughts in mind, here are some basics of race training physiology and some simple ways to make your training more effective.

A little physiology first: The body gets fitter by first, overload, and then, recovery. So we overload the heart, muscles, and oxygen delivery system by training. However, if we do the same workout each day we will get fitter, but soon the body will adapt to that training load. So in the big picture there should be a gradual increase in training volume over the year in order to tax the system. The other important factor is the recovery. Immediately after a workout the body is not stronger, it is worn down. It is after the recovery that it has built itself stronger. So to get the most out of training you should periodize your workouts to gradually increase stress on the body, but also to build in recovery. You can easily periodize your training by first looking at the whole year and then focusing down on a week to week training schedule.

For the year, I would suggest that the period from May through November contain a gradual increase in training hours. If you are training 25 hours in May, then June might be 28 hours; July, 32 hours; August, 35; September, 38; October, 40; and November, 42. The actual hours are not critical, it is the idea of the gradual increase that will keep the body adapting to the increase in workload. Too great of an increase will be beyond the body’s ability to adapt, probably leading to over-training and or injury. If you want to race fast January through March you then must decrease the training volume starting in early December. If you are more interested in having some outstanding races later in the season (late February through March), then the training hours should stay high until mid-January. For the scenario of racing fast all winter I would drop to 35 hours in December and around 30 hours for February and March (based on the monthly hours listed above.)

That is the big picture for total hours (volume) of training, but what about how the hours are spent? To keep it simple I suggest that May through September, most of the training is done at a very easy endurance pace (called level 1.) This is a pace at which you can carry on a conversation while training. One day per week, this level 1 workout should be quite long (2-3 hours) and you should be tired at the end of the workout from the length of the workout, but not tired during the workout because the pace should be easy. In addition to all of the level 1 workouts in this period, 1 day per week should be a hard day. The hard day will usually be some kind of intervals where the total amount of “on” time (time when you are going hard) is between 12 and 25 minutes. The recovery time for these intervals should be about 2/3 the on time. So one example would be 4x5 minutes with 31/2 minutes recovery. These summer intervals should be quite a bit harder than level 1 pace but not absolutely as hard as you can go. The goal of these intervals is to increase our aerobic capabilities without pushing too hard into anaerobic zones. This pace is called level 3 training and you are in level 3 if you are going just a little easier than the pace you would use in a 10k race. You should be tired at the end of each interval but not so tired that you couldn’t keep going for a longer time. Resist the temptation to push these level 3 intervals as hard as you can, you will get your chance to do that later in the year.

Starting in October and going until competitions start level 1 will still dominate each weeks training but now the over-distance workout can be extended to about 30 minutes longer than it was in the summer (remember we need to increase the load) and the other change is that now we will have two interval days per week. 1 interval session will be again level 3 but now the overall on time might be increased by a few minutes (14-28 minutes total.) The other interval session will be shorter and harder (level 4.) Level 4 should feel like a very hard pace similar to what you would feel in a 10k race. Once actual racing begins substitute a race for one of the interval session each week.

On the weekly level how do we organize these workouts? Remembering the principle of recovery there should never be 2 hard days in a row. Also there should be 1 complete rest day per week. The over-distance workout, even though the pace is easy should be considered a hard workout because of its length. Each week, the most important workouts are the 1 over-distance workout and the 1 or 2 interval workouts. Prioritize these 3 workouts, and if you have to skip workouts try not to skip these ones.

If you are doing dryland training try to make the interval sessions as specific to skiing as possible (rollerskiing, ski walking, hill bounding.) The over-distance workouts are not as important to keep specific (biking, hiking, running.)

This might all sound complicated, but in fact it is pretty simple. If you have a gradual increase in training through November and then reduce your hours, you will be fast in the competition season. If you prioritize each week in the winter to have one over-distance, one level 3 interval, and one level 4 interval, you will be even faster.

Speed can be worked on during easy level 1 workouts by going fast for 10-15 seconds (no longer) interspersed throughout the workout. You can add from 5 to 10 of these pickups to an easy workout without adding much stress to the body as long as you have at least 2 minutes of easy skiing between each one.

I can’t guarantee race results, but by following some of the basic ideas laid out in this article, I’m very confident that you’ll be able to shave many seconds off your best times this ski season.

Jeff Schloss is formerly the coach of the UNR Ski Team, and is currently one of the top master racers in the Far West. He is also helping in coaching the Far West Juniors.

Auburn Ski Club

Local Club Makes Good

by Bill Clark

To the average skier, "Auburn Ski Club" might mean just another run-of-the-mill foothills-based ski club. To any winter sports enthusiast who has been around awhile Auburn Ski Club summons a legacy of winter sports leadership and history in all aspects of the sport dating back to 1928. The overriding strength of ASC, however, lies in the opportunities the club has provided for more than 70 years. To this day, many thousands have become lifelong skiers through ASC.

How this organization became what it is today is a question often asked. There is no one event that set this into motion, but rather a combination of vision, luck and hard work. Most importantly, it's been people pouring sweat, heart and sole into the organization; all for the love of the sport. But if there is one individual that put his mark on the club's history it would be Wendell Robie. Wendell was a one of-a-kind: a visionary to some, a character to many, a frustration to more than a few, a doer and shaker, but clearly a leader. The obvious financial strength that benefits the club today is a result of Wendell's foresight.

Beginning in the 1928/29 season a group of young, would-be skiers from Auburn, California, armed with mail order skis, began heading to the snow. With shovels and borrowed machinery they kept US highway 40 open to the snow line at Canyon Creek (above present day Baxter). A ski jump hill was built and the club quickly became the largest club west of the Mississippi.

In 1929 the California Chamber of Commerce became interested in promoting skiing. In 1930, the California Ski Association was created (later named the Far West Ski Association), and Auburn's Robie was elected as president. His leadership set a course towards amateur sports rather than commercial tourism.

In 1931/32 the ski club moved further up the highway to Cisco. The "ski grounds" at Cisco became a mecca for winter sports on the west coast until WWII. A "haulback" lift was built along with a lodge and several hills good for jumps up to 250 feet. State, National and International competitions were held on the site. Wendell provided employment to Norwegian immigrants raising the level of jumping competition in the west. The first Slalom in the west was held at Cisco.

In 1931-32 a push to open Highway 40 year round was underway. To underscore the potential of winter sports ASC hosted a special jumping meet at Cisco. The meet was free to the public and over 2400 cars traveled to the dead end at Cisco, causing a monumental traffic jam. ASC members had transported the California Legislature to the event (complete with "mountain dew"). Now convinced that winter sports would provide gas tax funding, they voted to open Hwy. 40 in winter. Hwy. 40 became the only all-year highway over the Sierra, ushering in the Tahoe winter sports industry.

In 1934 and again in 1936 Auburn Ski Club brought ski jumping to the San Francisco Bay area. Train cars were filled with snow and hauled to Berkeley. On the UC campus a ski jump tower was built and covered with snow. The jumping exhibition drew more than 10,000 spectators. Newspapers were splashed with news of the events. The first contest ended prematurely when the crowd, many of whom had never seen snow, stormed the fences and started a huge snowball fight.

For the 1939 World Exhibition on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, the club again built a ski jump, this time entirely out of scaffolding. Union Ice Company made the snow. Billed as the world championships the event was won by Reider Anderson of Norway. At the same time a downhill event was held on Red Mountain across from Cisco.

When the construction of Interstate 80 cut through the Cisco ski grounds in the early 1950's the club leaders were successful in demanding a top price for ASC land. With the funds, knowledge of the new highway route, and knowing the sheepherder who owned it, land on the very top of Donner Summit was purchased. In 1964 Boreal Ridge opened on land leased from ASC. By 1969 the Club founded the Western SkiSport Museum in partnership with historian William B. Berry. The Museum continues to thrive today as an exhibition of western ski history recognized by USSA as a regional Museum to the National Ski Hall of Fame.

By the early 1960's the club elders began efforts to construct a new ski club facility at the Boreal site. Cross country ski trails and ski jumps were built independent of the ski area. Throughout the 1970's and 80's collegiate and high school races were held regularly. The 1971 Nordic Junior Nationals, led by Charlie Fink, boasted the first-ever night jumping competition, and were held on the new trails.

Over the 70 year history many thousands of foothill residences have experienced winter sports through Auburn Ski Club. In the early years it produced two time National Champion and Olympian Roy Mikkleson, as well as many local and regional champions. In 1992 ASC speed skier, Jeff Hamilton, won an Olympic Bronze medal. He went on to become World Champion and World record holder, with a speed of 150 MPH. In addition to athletes, the club has produced officials, coaches and volunteers through all levels of skiing.

In 1989 a new facility was built on the site replacing the small rustic (that's a kind description) "Nordic Hut" which was built by volunteers in just two days for the 1971 JO's. The old hut, complete with a fireplace and the smell of pine tar, served the Nordic activities for almost 20 years. When the new ASC Training Center became a reality it fulfilled the vision the founders had seen. Participation in club programs is again on a upswing reminiscent of the Cisco days. Skiers, athletes and skiing families are experiencing the same joy that brought the club's founders to the sport.

A measure of the club's legacy can be found in the memories of those who have come through ASC on the way to becoming lifelong skiers. The memories might be from a high school alpine racer remembering the first time their skis "hooked up" in a turn, a cross country skier lost in the rhythm of diagonal stride, a race official knowing they've hosted a good event, or a young skier remembering a finish line amid cheers no matter the placing. It is those experiences that bring members back with their children. It's from those beginnings champion skiers will make their presence known. The athletes and club members of today's ski club may not know it but they are carrying on in the ski tracks of past ski club generations.

Bill Clark is the Executive Director of Auburn Ski Club.

Winning by her Own Definition

by Nancy Case

She was barely six, and for the first time was able to handle the hilly cross-country ski trails without holding my hand or skiing between my legs. As we skied side-by-side, my daughter, Bronwyn, kept up a constant, enthusiastic chatter. She sang going downhill; she encouraged herself going uphill; she laughed when she fell.

When she saw two men behind us wearing spandex and skate-skiing (obviously racers in training), she flaunted carelessly, “Let’s beat those guys! Come on, we can beat them!” Her spirits were not a bit dampened when they blew by us a few seconds later. “Oh, well,” she burst out, laughing, “at least we’re beating the trees!”

This incident holds the key, I think, to what I have learned about helping kids succeed in athletics in the years that our two older children (18 and 21) have gone from “skiing” in backpacks to racing at the national level.

When Bronwyn said, “Let’s beat these guys,” she was setting up her own game. She had the idea (maybe from us) that pushing yourself is fun, but she was in control of the challenge. That’s very different from a parent saying (either audibly or to himself, like I have), “See if you can beat that kid. You should be able to beat him.” She was so full of joy in her own accomplishment—being able to ski better and faster than she had before—that comparing herself to others took a back seat.

I used to worry that growing up in a family where race results are typical dinner conversation fare might be detrimental to this little girl. I began to notice that her first question to her brother or sister after a race was, “What place did you get?” Concerned about this, I renewed my efforts to emphasize participation over winning in the kids’ cross-country program my husband and I run at Auburn Ski Club.

But a few nights ago my concerns were put to rest. We were discussing a race that her brother had won that day, and I mentioned how glad I was to see him shake hands on the podium with the boys who finished second and third. Bronwyn agreed and recalled a race she’d been in recently.

We have it on video. In baggy green wind pants and a puffy fleece pullover, Bronwyn comes scrambling up to the finish line in the lead, glides to a stiff-legged stop, then turns and hugs the little girl who came in behind her, almost losing her balance. They both wear big smiles and exchange words unfortunately drowned out by the cow bells and cheering.

“Why did you hug Sophie?” I ask. Was it because you had just made a new friend, or because you had seen other winners shake hands?”

“Because she was a new friend and because it was like saying, “I’m not the only one who won. Other kids did a great job, too,” she replied. “And anyway, winning isn’t what racing is really about.”

This was getting interesting. “What do you think racing is about?” I probed. “I think it’s about three things,” Bronwyn concluded after a pause: “going fast, having fun, and being nice to your friends at Auburn Ski Club.”

This attitude will carry her a long way if she chooses to keep racing. And when she gets so fast that she leaves me in the dust, I’ll find comfort in remembering that at least I’m beating the trees.

Nancy Case is the mother of some very fast Far West Junior racers, and is one of the organizers of the Super Sliders program at Auburn Ski Club.

Sierra Ski Chase

Criteria and Points

This low-key racing series is going into its 9th season. We thank our past sponsors, Fischer Skis, Timberland Eyewear, Bear Bones Physical Therapy and Dr. Wm. Krissoff, Orthopedic Surgeon, for donating valuable prizes and co-sponsoring the teeshirts with Far West Nordic. We greatly appreciate their support. We are excited to welcome Sierra Nordic.com and Lowe Alpine, and whose sponsorship will help us towards the purchase of our long-sleeve teeshirts. Everybody is welcome to enter the Sierra Ski Chase, it is free to Far West members (only $20 per year), however, in order to defray the cost of the teeshirt we are asking non-Far West members for a contribution of $15. All prizes from our sponsors will go into a raffle and that way everyone, who completes the series, can be a potential winner. The top man and woman will have their names inscribed on the SIERRA SKI CHASE PERPETUAL TROPHY on display at the Auburn Ski Club. Any Chase participant may have up to 2 out-of-the-area races count as a straight points race to fulfill Sierra Ski Chase Criteria, and racers from the outlying areas can have up to 3 races in their own backyard, as long as they send a result sheet with their names underlined to Far West. We selected 12 races, you only have to complete a minimum of 5 races. Age handicap points will be given to the best 5 races per participant, that means 1 point will be added per year over age 34. Everybody will receive 10 points for finishing a race plus placing points. After you fulfill your requirement of 5 races, each additional race will be worth 10 points. The Gold/Silver/Bronze Rush will also be scored with 10 points, no age or finishing points because of the nature of the race (choice of 3 distances) and the same applies to the relay races. Any questions, contact Helga Sable (530) 546-3675.

December 3 Kirkwood XC Kirkwood 10K 10 kilometers Freestyle

December 17 Tahoe XC Ready or Not 10K 10 kilometers Freestyle

December 31 Auburn Ski Club Paco’s Fun Race 10 kilometers Freestyle

January 7 Auburn Ski Club Snowshoe Thompson Classic 10 kilometers Classic

January 15 Tahoe Donner Sierra Skogsloppet 15 kilometers Freestyle

January 21 Tahoe XC Alpenglow 20K 20 kilometers Freestyle

February 3 Northstar Sawmill Race 15 kilometers Freestyle

February 4 Tahoe XC Tahoe City Classic 10 kilometers Classic

February 19 Tahoe Donner Presidents Cup Race 15 kilometers Freestyle

February 25 Tahoe Donner TDXC Relays 3 Person Relays (1 leg classic)

March 18 Royal Gorge California Gold Rush 50/30/15 kilometers Freestyle

Placing points:


top 20 = 5 points

top 15 = 10 points

top 10 = 25 points

top 5 = 35 points

top 2 = 40 points


top 40 = 10 points

top 30 = 20 points

top 20 = 30 points

top 15 = 35 points

top 10 = 40 points

top 3 = 45 points

Far West Senior & Masters Team Selection Criteria

The top Senior skiers (20-29) will be named to the Far West Team, meeting the same race criteria as the Far West Masters Team.

The top skier in each age group is named to the Far West Masters Team. Candidates must be citizen racers; members of the U. S. Ski Team are not eligible. Skiers must be Far West Nordic members and must complete a minimum of five (5) of the qualifying races, one of which has to be a classic race. Up to ten (10) races count toward a point total. If there are two skiers who are consistently close in the results, both will be named to the team. Masters who place at the Masters Nationals and/or Masters World Cup in individual races, also overall winners in the Marathon Series must do a minimum of 4 Far West races and they too will be named to the Masters Team. In the Far West Division masters age classes are separated into five year increments starting at age 30. We selected one race from each Far West Nordic Area. For further information contact Helga Sable at (530)546-3675 or John Goodman at (530)426-9549.

December 3 Kirkwood XC Kirkwood 10K 10 kilometers Freestyle

December 17 Tahoe XC Ready or Not 10K 10 kilometers Freestyle

January 3 Tahoe Donner TDXC Night Race 5 kilometers Classic

January 7 Auburn Ski Club Snowshoe Thompson Classic 10 kilometers Classic

February 3 Northstar Sawmill Race 15 kilometers Freestyle

February 19 Tahoe Donner Presidents Cup Race 15 kilometers Freestyle

February 24 Montecito Sequoia Chimney Rock Challenge 15 kilometers Classic

March 3 Yosemite XC Yosemite Nordic Holiday 17 kilometers Freestyle or Classic

March 11 Bear Valley XC Bjornloppet 10 kilometers Classic

March 18 Royal Gorge California Gold Rush 50 or 30 or 15 kilometers Freestyle

April 1 Tamarack Lakes XC Mammoth Marathon 42 or 21 kilometers Freestyle