Winter being our favorite season here at the Catamount Trail Association, we are also at its mercy. In the latter half of January here in Vermont, we saw multiple snowpack meltdowns and re-freezes coupled with just a sprinkling of new snow. While many diehard skiers were out side-slipping through rain crust, thin cover, and refrozen granular snow, if you’re a newcomer to the Nordic world, these conditions just don’t hold much appeal. So we adapted as we could, and played patient when we couldn’t.
Following up on a successful first Saturday of our Bolton Valley program, the second Saturday saw slightly firmer conditions. But the hardy Ski Cubs braved the slick conditions and ventured out for trail skis on Broadway, long herringbones on World Cup, and a whole-group game of ski tag to end the day. We had two groups, the Panthers and the Catamounts, who worked together to self-coach and decide where to ski. After lots of falls and slips the first day, it was clear that many of the group were getting a feel for sliding on skis!
During our school-week programs in Huntington and Shelburne, we worked on “dryland” activities to avoid the sheets of ice that had frozen over at lower elevations. With indoors time, the energy of the participants remained high and we got in lots of important practice on matters like ski technique, clipping in and out, and using the right muscle groups. Although dryland training is more like a traditional PE class than our typical Ski Cubs time, it’s still a great way to familiarize participants with the equipment we use, and to get the hang of basic Nordic techniques such as weight transfer and poling.
Our reprieve from the snow drought came at the end of February, and the Ski Cubs arrived at Bolton on Saturday the 3rd to a freshly-groomed carpet of new snow all the way from the Valley Loop to the Goat Path. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing up-valley and we all geared up for a long day of enjoying the freshies. Four groups — the Cheetahs, Ocelots, Bobcats, and Polar Bears — all had their own itineraries for the day, allowing newer and older skiers to slot in where they felt comfortable. Many skiers took advantage of the glut of fluffy snow to practice skiing a little faster, snowplowing a little harder, and once in a while, crashing a little harder!
Of course, no Saturday at Bolton would be complete without a good game to cap it off, so we had a few rounds of Sharks and Minnows led by Coach Sam to get the wiggles out before we went back inside.
This week our good snow-fortune has continued (knock wood), bringing school closures but also great conditions. The Shelburne skiers worked on their relay-race skills and the “kick and glide” technique at the center of classic skiing. The Huntington groups played in the powder and also got trained up on snowplow technique, utilizing the hill behind Brewster-Pierce School to get some speed. Both these schools will be traveling to Sleepy Hollow in two weeks for a culmination ski day — if you’d like to volunteer to chaperone and ski with them, be in touch!
Tomorrow will mark the start of our fourth week of Ski Cubs, an exciting milestone which means we’re halfway through the season. It’s been a good run so far and it only keeps getting better!