The Sierra Skogsloppet nordic ski race is a celebration of skiing and community in Truckee. The race, hosted by Tahoe Donner Cross Country (TDXC), is a fundraiser for the Truckee High and Alder Creek Middle School Nordic teams. Cancelled last year due to lack of snow, the race returned on MLK Day this year to good attendance and sunny skies.
The Skogsloppet is a fun family event and I believe that it has the potential to grow into a much bigger, family-centric community ski event. The race distances include: a 7.5km course for juniors, a 15km two-lap course for seniors and masters, and a special 2km course for skiers under 13 years old. A fun atmosphere pervades, with the team kids and their parents volunteering in all aspects. I hope a lot more recreational skiers and their kids will try the race next year!
The big excitement this year was the new course. The 7.5km course featured many more ups & downs and twists & turns than the previous course. Even for those of us who ski TDXC on a very regular basis, it was fun and challenging, linking trails in ways that we may not normally think to. The lap ends with a twisty descent down “Big Dipper” followed by a quick loop on the beginner trails “Piece of Cake” and “Cup of Tea.” Skogsloppet roughly translates to “ski course through the forest,” and this was, indeed, a beautiful forest course.
Some people don’t like the mental challenge presented by two-lap courses. I generally enjoy a second lap because I have a better understanding of the course and snow conditions at that point. Descending is not my strong point, so any increased comfort level with the descents is much appreciated.
I brought the whole family out to ski for the day. Our 8-year-old daughter opted not to race, but still skied and played around with friends. Meanwhile, our 6-year-old son is always game to pin on a race bib! Daddy escorted him on the 2km loop, along with a few buddies from school.
The race awards and raffle focused on the kids. Let me take a minute to explain how our ski race raffles typically work, because it is really fun and inclusive! A wide selection of donated prizes are spread out on a table. Then, the overall winners and sometimes the age group winners are each recognized and get to pick a prize from the table. After each winner picks a prize, the remaining skiers are called at random to pick from the goodies.
In this case, the adult overall winners were called, then all of the junior age group winners. Much to my delight, all of the 2km racers (my son included) were then invited to select prizes at this point. My little guy was over-the-moon happy with his selection of a gift basket donated by Truckee breakfast favorite Squeeze In. It included a $25 gift certificate, two coffee mugs, and a pound of coffee beans. (“I am going to sell the coffee beans for money,” he told me.)
Let me back up and briefly recount my race. My start was sluggish – wax too cold, clothes too warm, muscles not ready to go. I took a gel 5 minutes before the race start, which is my typical race routine. However, I forgot to grab some water from my waist pack. Within 10 minutes I was tired and parched. I had to slow down to reach for a drink and rest for a minute on “Lion’s Leap.”
I finally settled in behind a gal and skied the first lap with her and most of the second lap, but was never close enough to comfortably pass. I wondered if she would get tired before the end. My home field “advantage” was working against me… making me feel bad (unworthy?) that I was moving so slowly with so many wonderful familiar faces cheering me on by name.
About a third of the way into the second lap my mood improved, both physically and mentally. I felt strong for the final climb and was able to pass the gal in front just before we got to the top. The excitement of passing energized me for the twisty decent and I finished the second lap a minute faster than the first.
I traded the race bib for my “Mom” hat and eagerly listened to stories of the kids’ race from Dad and son.
Phew, two races in two weekends has really kicked my butt! This weekend I’m excited to have the opportunity to run on dirt for the first time in two months. The Robert and Linda Mathis Memorial Group Run honors a couple that was tragically killed by a drunk driver last winter. This free 15-mile run will be followed by a potluck and raffle to benefit the Robert and Linda Mathis Foundation.
If I make it through the run on Saturday, I’m still hoping to ski the Tahoe Rim Tour on Sunday. I should be done in time to celebrate the marriage of two awesome racing friends, my running pal Kristin and my skiing pal Mark. Their baby girl is going to be one fierce athlete some day!