The weather in Idaho has not been conducive to a great nordic ski season so far. The first major storm, which would have jump started the season, came through a bit too warm. We have received snowfall since then, but it is still thin in McCall and Sun Valley, and non-existent at Bogus Basin near Boise. With that said, I do have 4 ski days in so far, all of them in Sun Valley. This is the least amount of early season skiing I have had in the past 8 years. Last year at this time I had 10 days in! I should note that had I been willing to travel out of state for the Thanksgiving break, my numbers would definitely look better.
The first day skiing was the day after Thanksgiving. Karyn and I met some friends in Sun Valley to ski on the very thin base. It was definitely "rock ski" weather as the gravel mixed into the snow caused significant damage to the bases of our skis. The first few kilometers of the season are always a bit rough as your muscles work to recover the memory of the ski motions. After a few kilometers your form starts to develop and the fun begins. Then at about 10 to 15 kilometers your body starts its revolt. The shoulders tense up, lower back starts to ache, and form starts to degrade. It takes focus to keep it together. I finished the 24km exhausted. It was a very successful first day out! The snow was even thinner the second day out. We decided not to ski on the final day of the weekend as the snow was too thin and we were two tired from our first two days on snow.
This last weekend we returned to Sun Valley. They had received 10-15 inches more snow since our first visit. Much more of the trail system had been groomed in. We chose a fairly flat section to work on some steady distance. The sky was crystal clear and the snow was just right. It was awesome. On our second day, the temperature was a very chilly 7 degrees below zero (F)! This made the snow crystal sharper and slower requiring significantly more effort. The cold temperature wasn't a big deal as we had the right gear. It only took a kilometer or two for our lungs to adapt.
The bad news is that both of my shoulder joints have been bothering me during and after skiing. This getting old kind of sucks. I hope I can work through it during the next few weeks. I have three big races that I am targeting for this ski season. The first is a 36km race in Bend Oregon called the Great Nordeen. I have skied in this race once before. The second is the 32km Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley. This race is usually the biggest event that I participate in. The last, which I will enter only if my fitness is in top shape, is the Masters World Championships being held this year in McCall Idaho. The Masters Worlds have a 45km and a 30km race that I would consider entering. I have no expectations of placing in any of these events, just completing the events with a strong personal performance. For now, we must wish for snow.