Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy Birch Hill!!

Well, we can't do much about the weather but we're off to a terrible start here, with temps dipping into the -20s and -30s consistently and even colder in town.

What I'm really getting at is that we don't have to have a Panglossian ski club, with a handful of deciders, that dictates everything Nordic in this community.

For example, this year a relatively logical race schedule (considering weather patterns) was overturned and now it heavily favors classic races. My favorite races over the past 7 years have been in order: the Sonot 50K (which thankfully they haven't touched this year in terms of technique and hopefully NEVER will), the 15K Gundeloppet in December, and the Turkey Day Relays. Those have always been freestyle. Now 2 of 3 are classic.
Don’t get me wrong, I like classic racing and in particular have enjoyed the 20K races, the January Jaunt and Skiathon.

The club's only skate races (a 10K and 20K) this season are in the coldest weeks of the year, the first two weeks of January. This community should have at least one freestyle and one classic race per month. (The sprint races are a wash bafor most post-college and masters skiers, unless you're Kikkan Randall that's really your thing).

God forbid trying to invoke change at a board meeting, and I wouldn't suggest a camp out in the timing building. But staying at home and grumbling about doesn't help much either.

If you like the idea of alternatives, then think and act independently. For example, if you see the need start your own training group or racing team--at any level, juniors, open, masters--then feel free to do so. And keep those middle school programs going! I think Tanana is the lone survivor, which is too bad. Nevertheless, it's exciting to see Christina Gillis’ new women's group this year. Hopefully other ideas will keep cropping up, and will thrive.

And I'd love to see other people take some initiative to put on some other choices for races around here, especially when the race schedule is capriciously turned upside down. Although I appreciate what the club does, it would be great to have some other options available for citizen racing enthusiasts.

Types of races I'd like to see:
A two day pursuit over New Years. New Year's Eve 10K classic, and New Year's Day Freestyle.

Some additional longer races. Maybe a 25K freestyle two weeks before the Tour of Anchorage, that would be a good tune up.

A late season multi race, some combination of snowshoe, bike, ski, run, and maybe even ice skate.

A late season series, like Tour de Fairbanks, but taking advantage of our amazing polar spring--almost always the best time of the year to ski, but when you see the lowest participation rates. Sometimes it seems like rollerskiing in July is more popular than sliding on fast snow in April.

Try new trails for some events, like the musher trails right North American and the Sonot. Or offer a freestyle race at UAF.

Finally, to end this November rant on a frigid day I’d also like to see new music at for the town races. Ummm, there have been a few decades and a lot of music since the 1970 to 1972 era.


Blogger Jim Graham said...

Good and interesting post. I'm no local, but here in New England we have the luxury of many clubs -- for many abilities, racing interests and training approaches. The beauty of it is that every club race and series has its own flavor. Some systems simply work better for some people than others.
This is especially helpful for newer and younger races, who can chose from very low-key and small local events and clubs to the TD Bank series where they can mix it up with the best of the best.
I think that de-centralized approach works well, and I bet the Fairbanks area is big enough to support a few different clubs and races. I love the idea of some longer skate or multi-sport races in the late season!
And on skating in the coldest part of the year up there? Yikes! Maybe fine for the fastest, fittest skiers, but not for this old (50+) goat, who would struggle to state on sub-zero sandpaper.
Nice to find this blog, and to check out how other regions approach this great sport.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous software said...

nice post

4:23 PM  

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