Snow You Think You Know Nordic

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Carter Reiter , Copy Editor

From the end of September to the middle of March, nordic skiers are waxing, training and racing.  Competitive skiers from Durango travel thousands of miles every season to places all over Colorado and Utah; some skiers even go as far as West Yellowstone, Montana for the annual Yellowstone Ski Festival, or Cable, Wisconsin for Junior Nationals.

Wherever athletes go, a trail of friends, parents and siblings follow behind with one goal in common: to be the fans that every nordic skier needs to persevere through tough conditions and steep competition.

“It was exciting for me to be able to experience the feel of a big race with hundreds of people from all different teams. It was also really great being able to travel with my team and watch the incredible teamwork and sportsmanship. Soldier Hollow was an awesome experience for me; someone who hasn’t raced in the past,” said Animas High School Fr. Sadie Schafer.

Traveling to places like Soldier Hollow is made easy by transportation provided by the head coach, Gary Colliander. A relatively new incorporation to the local team is a fifteen person nordic van that hauls kids and gear alike.  The van has approximately 20,000 km on it.

“We went to Frisco this summer and when we arrived we did a ten mile rollerski, following the rollerski the team went to Whole Foods. They were selling Talenti and Katja (Freeburn) and I decided to get some and eat it on the nordic van and we got it ALL over the seat. That’s my best memory on the nordic van. We were laughing so hard, you know, typical Carmen/Katja derp laugh,” said Carmen Hall, a Miller Middle School 8th grader.

Parents and siblings are also welcomed onto the van and to races.  Fans are encouraged to participate in the race weekends and often take advantage of that.  Seats are full in the van, and kids travel to destinations crammed in the back seats with their parents or even their friend’s parents.

“The biggest car load I shuttled up to a race is five girls. The hard work and dedication Cecilia gives to Nordic skiing and the happiness she gets back from a good day out skiing are amazing, so it was worth it. Watching her finish her first Coca-Cola Race and seeing her smile, knowing she had found a sport she loved, is my proudest moment as a Nordic momma,” said Moira Montrose, mother of Cecilia Compton.

Nordic is a tightly knit, but welcoming community of people who all have different perspectives on the sport. Whether they are a spectator or a racer, the experiences are impactful and meaningful.

“Watching my seven to nine year old racers is very fulfilling at this age. They are so impressionable, so I can see the impact I’m having on them. They’ve also grown so much in their ability, and I know they will just keep maturing,” said Stanton Ott, Jr. and Durango Nordic Team Coach.

Ott hopes that his athletes will continue to grow as nordic skiers and people. The local program offers skiing to kids all the way up to the U-20 age group, which translates into the oldest group for youths to ski in.  For now, he is content watching his skiers play in the snow and dress up in too many layers.

“I think the most important thing about teaching the youngsters is having fun while developing the basics, and helping them start to love to ski,” said Ott.

The Durango Nordic Ski Club (DNSC) is a racing program for junior cross country skiers ages six through 19 years old.  DNSC embraces skiers of all abilities, from those interested in recreational pursuits to racers aspiring for Junior World Cup racing or the Winter Olympics.