Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Perspective
NSDT Update: What will we do without snow?

- By: Erik Carleton

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The fall here in Canmore has seemed quite warm, although it could be just the bias of a cross country skier who wants snow. Lately, though, it has cooled off to well below normal, and we received just enough snow for the roads to be mostly covered, but not sufficient amounts for skiing. Roller skiing is still possible in some areas, where the snow has blown away, and the road crews did not lay any gravel. You always hope this transition period between dryland and ski training is as short as possible, but you also accept that it is inevitable. Itís a good time to brush up on strength before the race season, and get out the running shoes or do some ski striding, also called ski walking or pole walking, from what I hear. One of the beauties of our sport is the variety in activity, so take advantage.

This time of year can be a bit tough mentally, which can lead to waning motivation. The key is to keep your focus, perhaps not on a specific task, but something else, which makes it seem more worthwhile. It is not always fun to go for a two-hour run on frozen ground. Go in a group, or just remind yourself it will pay off to keep active and fit in the period leading up to the snow season. During this important phase, each NSDT athlete receives a highly individualized training plan from our coach Mike Cavaliere. Part of the idea is to take this last training period to improve the weaker areas, leading to increased confidence in oneís preparation. I have been working with Mike and Rob Soffer, among many other things, our strength guru, to get a little more power. I suppose power is a bit vague, but the result of the work will hopefully translate into stronger strides, and longer glide on the ski trail. Just think, once you hit the snow, and subsequently the start line, you can do it with poise, knowing you have done all you could.

However, there is more to it than just training and physical preparation. Another thing I try to stay on top of around Halloween, besides pumpkin carving, is my equipment. What I do is go through all my skis and decide which might need stone grinding, and find any repairs that are needed such as uneven edges. Next I like to give each pair a few layers of wax, almost as if they were new, just less iterations. Also, my shiny new Peltonens all need to be mounted, stone ground and waxed many times. It is good to practice your waxing skills, working to become an efficient waxing machine, before the snow comes. That way you can easily get in the habit of taking care of your skis after each session. Give your skis good care, and they will return the favour.

All this preparation, will it be worth it? I am convinced it will, but what if there is no snow to ski on? Recently the Kyoto Protocol has been dominating the headlines. Sounds like scientists have finally come to a consensus that global warming, or more broadly climate change, are a reality. They do not all agree on how much the average global temperature will rise, but certainly, at the current rates, getting precipitation to freeze may become an issue at some point down the road. Imagine areas that receive a lot of snow near the freezing mark, after the world warms up a couple degrees. They may still get a lot of precipitation; unfortunately it will be in the form of rain. It is not only warming that is a threat, there are plenty of indications of more extreme weather: cold, warm, dry, wet wind. Consider the number of races cancelled last year. Already one world cup cancelled this year due to 120 kph winds. We are not doomed, but we do need to reverse the trend. Enough of that tangent, we will have to trust that are politicians will make some good decisions both for the sake of the global climate and our economy.

In the meantime, chase after snow. Enjoy it to its fullest, and avoid taking it for granted. We will have a good snow year (think positive). You may be skiing sooner than you think. Good luck!

Erik would like to recognize his personal sponsors:

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