Part 1: Freestyle (skate)
Starting one by one, the skiers race against the clock. The skier with the fastest time wins this part-but we can only tell at the end when they post the times.
Part 2 Classic (parallel, traditional course that is tracked with grooves for the skis)
2 hours later, the skate winner starts out of the gate with classic skis. The other skiers leave the starting gate according to the time they finished-behind the first skier. In the case of the state meet, 120 skiers leave within 5 minutes, sometimes as many as 10 at a time. All skiers "pursue" the winner , and when they finish, the crowd now knows who is the first place finisher, in real time. In the State Championship race, all Minnesota skiers compete against each other (there are no AA or AAA designations), and Duluth East won both boys and girls events. The Cook county skiers compete in the same section as Duluth East, so it gets pretty exciting to see all of those kids we know skiing so well.
Shelby and Kieran both qualified for the state meet this year. They're longtime friends-from 11 year old Tuscarora pirates to the state ski meet. How cool is that?
When they warmed up at Giants Ridge on Wednesday--it was 59 degrees. A pleasant shock from their qualifying race a week earlier (at -28 for Section warm-ups- that would be 87 degrees colder...in one week)
Why Do It?
We live on the Gunflint Trail--home of the best ski trail system in the state. It's what people do in the winter. So--we do it too. Only Shelby took to it a little more quickly than the rest of us. Her friends from the running team were also skiing competitively. The community of skiers promote it. Grand Marais volunteers teach the kids to ski -with programs starting for the 5 year olds.
Because the movements involved in cross-country skiing are fluid and rhythmic, there is very little overuse or high impact damage to joints and muscles. It is one of the few activities that uses almost all of the body's major muscle groups, so a skier receives a complete workout, benefiting the heart and lungs as well. Cross-country skiers are regarded as some of the fittest athletes in the world.
On race day, it was a little drizzly, but lucky for us, the background coaching/waxing guys, Cory and Mark, really know what they're doing. The kick wax is apparently a tricky thing for a day that is 42 degrees and drizzling. Incidentally, they do happen to also have full time jobs.
Shelby says "Nobody else knows what this competition is like." --except the other skiers. Leslyn from Ely is an athlete Shelby keeps in her sights. If Shelby can catch her-- racing Leslyn seems to pull the best classic times that Shelby's ever had. Mata (in yellow), from Wayzata--is a close friend whose family spent the summer of 2004 at Tuscarora.
Why We Like It
As parents, we're just glad she gets outside. We're glad for the crowd of hard-working, talented peers, the solid friendships she's built on this team, the community support. We're happy to drive around the state to support her for these few short years. And we're fortunate for the Gunflint trail system in our back yard.