The winter of 2011-2012 is off to a slow start. Nature has not provided much snow to the North Shore area. I've chronicled desperate times before in this blog, from back in 2008, when we weren't skiing until late December and I biked on the beach and ran screaming down ski trails. I'm grumpy now, wanting to get out on real snow on a real trail.
The Duluth Denfeld Hunters Nordic Ski team has been skiing on snow for two weeks now. Thanks to the generosity of Spirit Mountain, the Denfeld team has been able to practice and race on the man-made snow of the slopes.
It was a bizarre scene this week at Spirit when Denfeld hosted their annual ski race. Drizzle all day had turned into a heavy layer of fog perched right at the top of the hill in Duluth. Driving into Spirit there was just a dusting of snow in the woods. Then you walk out toward the racecourse and suddenly there's two feet of snow on the ground. There were more cross country skiers than downhill skiers, and those skinny skis stuck out in a ski world more about wide skis and wider snowboards.
The course started right by the chalet and went uphill. Skiers disappeared into the fog and dark. Less than a minute later, they zoomed out of the fog straight down the ski run, snowplowing or step-turning to make the big curve around the chalet.
Although it was desperate measures for these desperate times, the foggy hilly race was a lot of fun. The Denfeld boys took second place, behind the mighty East High School. It was actual real skiing at a North Shore ski area. Despite all that, I'm still grumpy. Maybe next time they'll let me on the course.