With lack of snow, Park City Nordic Ski Club gets creative
December 29, 2011
In his 32 years coaching Nordic skiing, Gordon Lange has seen some strange winters.
The winter of 2011-2012 is starting to look like another one.
Now in his ninth year coaching the Park City Nordic Ski Club, Lange has gone to extreme lengths to keep his athletes both in shape and stimulated as the lack of snow threatens to run into 2012.
"There’s been other times where I’ve had to get creative," he said, laughing. "It depends on what you include in terms of driving time."
Again this season Lange is taking his Nordic skiers to unique places to keep their skiing in top form. When the snow continued to miss Park City, the head coach took a look at the "Big Lake" pond in Silver Springs.
"I used to live right across from the lake, and there used to be guys out there skiing on it," he said. "When we first started doing it this year, we weren’t positive the ice was thick enough. But there was maybe just a half-inch of snow over the ice and it’s really easy to ski when the terrain is flat as a lake is, and there’s that little bit of snow for grip and skate skating.
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"You can really get going really fast and it’s pretty fun."
Lange, who has been a Nordic coach at the national, collegiate and youth levels, said the lack of snow has left him searching for ways to keep the kids excited about skiing, and not get flustered with the lack of diversity and snowfall.
"It depends on where we’re at and what we’re trying to get accomplished," he said. "What I did this time around was a lot of different drills. The snow is very inconsistent, so we did a lot of speed training."
He said the team has also been spending more time in the gym, using weight-lifting sessions to its advantage.
"You’ve got to make your days count for something because it can get really boring every single day," he said.
Along with skiing on a frozen pond, Lange has taken the team down to the Millcreek Canyon area in Salt Lake City to get in some training sessions in and team members have also become avid users of the new 2K loop near the base of the Utah Olympic Park. He said the team planned to train near Daniel’s Summit in Wasatch County this weekend.
"In some respects, maybe I get more done when I’m in a year like this because I practice these drills this year more than other years with speed and interval training," he said. "It seems like they’re in good shape."
He said if the long-awaited snow eventually reaches Park City, the team will likely go back to local training areas such as Round Valley and White Pine. He said Round Valley is the ideal training area for his young athletes, while White Pine presents the easiest route for quick training sessions.
"All this is only by necessity," he said. "It’s not by choice that I like to ski on a lake and go on a 2K loop nonstop for 20 times. I’d much rather have the winter we had last year."
Next up for the Park City Nordic Ski Club is today’s Smartwool Wasatch Citizen Series race at Soldier Hollow, which will serve as a warm-up for the Junior National qualifying race on Jan. 14 in West Yellowstone. A week later, Lange said there is another junior qualifier at Soldier Hollow that will bring nearly 600 of the best young Nordic skiers to the area.
Lange said he’s been all smiles recently after his team of J2 girls dominated a race in Sun Valley, Idaho, a couple weeks ago. They should be a force over the next few years, he added.
"It’s not often that we sweep a field like the J2 girls," he said. "They have the synergy; sometimes it takes a group to work off of each other and compete with each other."