Races, particularly HS State Championships or marathons are always a challenge.  You work and train and compete all winter and it comes down to the final show.  What’s the temperature?  Are my skis waxed right?  Do I have a plan – go out slower and come in with a roar? Do I have the right clothes on?  Did I eat an appropriate breakfast?  Is my mind in the right place? How do I feel?  Have I trained hard enough?  Do I remember what the coaches said? So much fresh snow – did it get packed firm enough or are the tracks hard?  So many things to think of.  But the most important is – am I ready to do my best?

Your attitude and the attitude of the people around you is so important.  When people are relaxed, supportive and encouraging, athletes do better.  Some have abilities that they are blessed with.  Some athletes have to work harder than others.  Every community sees that standout like Ty Scholl but behind that individual is a team.  A team of supporters – sometimes parents and teachers and sometimes just friends – a team of fellow athletes perhaps their school teammates or just a weekly training buddy or even sibling.  That kind of teamwork is often learned in family upbringing or on middle school or high school teams.  And it is a huge factor in the success of any athlete.  Ty would be the first to tell you the importance of that support.  The whole team counts as much as that star athlete and each supports the other.

Not just kids but all people who aspire to achieve a goal need some type of help to pursue their dreams.  It might be money for training or equipment or travel, it might be encouragement to work through a training flatspot or parts of their requirements to compete that don’t come easily, it might be as simple as having an idol.

Never doubt the importance of that teamwork.  All individual sports have some kind of dependence on others, whether it’s the caddy for the golfer, the trainer or Physical therapist or feed person for the Nordic skier or cross country runner, or the pack leader who pulls the peloton in a bike race.  The resort staff, coaches and parent helpers are a big part of that team.  The organizations who help fund the various programs are another part. And the family and friends who schlep the athletes around or feed them or carry their equipment are the unsung heroes.

Organizations like Grand Nordic help local athletes achieve these dreams.  Our programs of free community Nordic lessons, equipment to all local schools, and helping with free kids lesson programs help point local kids experience Nordic and get them going in the right direction.  Programs like the Competition Center give them the path to compete with the best.

Kids start learning this at an early age and parents need options.  One of the Grand Nordic programs, the Free Friday Kids Program at Snow Mountain Ranch during January and February has been ongoing since the 1980’s.  This year, Grand Nordic was able to shorten the number of programs and limit the number of kids each day but it was a total success!  We averaged about 25 kids broken into 5 groups and the instructors were both patient and incredible.  Some instructors have been working with this program for over 20 years!  I’ve watched some of these kids graduate from college with Nordic honors…  Kids and parents assisting the program are given trail passes and equipment each Friday by Snow Mtn Ranch.  Last Friday was our annual Nordic Festival and we had short races for the little ones and long races for the older kids as well as slalom challenges, soccer games and games like sharks and minnows.   Everyone won a prize donated from the SMR Nordic Center, Christy Sports, and B Jamin.  Brownies and hot chocolate or cider was a big hit since it was another windy day!  But the kids plugged on – thank you to parents and instructors for making the whole thing happen!  

The best of our local Nordic world is the Annual Snow Mtn Stampede happening 13-14 March.  .  The whole family can get involved – the Saturday FREESTYLE races start with kids 15 and under at 9am, and then adults have a window of 930am to 1030am to start anytime.  Same schedule applies for the Sunday CLASSIC races.  Some lucky kid is going to win a great big stuffed bear each day but all kids get prizes for finishing.  Adults can register on Active.com for a 10K, 25K or 50k race – and individual times will be recorded based on their self-selected start time. !  Enjoy the fabulous trails and beautiful vistas if you can spare the time to look around… legendary trails like Heckman, Gaskill, Young, Cranmer, Lynch – names matching old time legends in the Nordic community.  Demanding uphills, awesome downhills and plenty of room to just let it fly…  Because of the self-staggered start, you are racing against the clock!  At my age, I like to stop at the viewpoints and just stare at the mountains…  At least there is a 70+ group among the 10-year age groups.

As if that wasn’t enough, combine the two days for a total workout.  This is the ONLY opportunity in the country to be able to ski either 50K Skate Race Saturday and 50K Classic Race Sunday or do both days.  You can do 25K or 10K instead.  Earn a Ranch Hand 50K belt buckle for completing 25K each day or BE THE BOSS completing 50K each day and receive a 100K Ranch Boss buckle! For those who want to see how far 25K really is, just tour the course for 25K untimed but benefit from aid station support and expert grooming.  Visit snowmountainranch.org and click on activities,  Nordic and scroll down to races and events to get the full scoop and register for one or more Stampede events. Or go to https://www.active.com/granby-co/other-endurance/races/snow-mountain-stampede-2021?int=.  On-line registration closes Friday March 12 at noon.

See you at the Stampede!