[Editor Note: We sent packages and envelopes to readers who donated in our recent fund-raising campaign this week. Jon and I are truly gratified by your support. Thank you. If you haven’t received your premium, please be patient. More patches and stickers are being shipped to us.]

Vasaloppett And Memories Of The Great Washington Birthday Race, Fat Bike Amateur, Mystery Grinder, Knee Replacement Expert Question, Powderhorn Resort Review.

On March 3, the Vasaloppett, the oldest and biggest cross-country ski race in the world, stepped off, heading 90 km (55 or miles) from Salen to Mora, Sweden. That’s the equivalent to two back-to-back marathons, but on skis. Click on the video above, and you will see that this isn’t just a race of college kids and professional athletes. It’s a community experience with plenty of fit looking senior men and women in the crowd of 15,000 plus entrants. That’s 15,000 people coming out for an historic, 55 mile ski race, fueled along the way by hot blueberry soup. The winners come in about four-and-a-half hours after the start. Others are still “racing” 10 plus hours later.  Registration opens for the 2020 race on March 15, if you’re curious.

The US almost-equivalent is the American Birkebeiner, held in Hayward, WI, in mid-January. About 10,000 skiers race 50 km or 30 miles. In Canada, the Gatineau Loppet outside Montreal attracts 2,500 racers who have the option of skiing, snowshoeing or fat biking on different courses.

If you’ve never participated in a mass start, large field, cross-country race, you might have to review your bucket list. Thinking about these huge races reminded us of the Great Washington Birthday Race that used to be held in Putney, VT, and other places in Southern Vermont back in the 1970s  It was our first outing ever on cross-country skis, and there we were, competing with college teams, Olympians, ordinary citizens, and plenty of seniors on a modest 20 km (12 mile) course. Those days, you either got your wax right, or you didn’t.  We didn’t, but we laughed our way around the course, coming in dead last, but enthusiastic about the newly-discovered mystique of this ancient sport—the smell of pine tar, the arcane waxes, the simplicity of technique, and the thorough work out we got. Of course, equipment has evolved, but the aura of Nordic skiing is still magnetic.

Here’s the point: Most of SeniorsSkiing.com readers are Alpine skiers. We urge you to try cross-country to give yourself a break and change your perspective. Like the new skis for Alpine, there’s innovative new skis, bindings, and boots that makes x-c more efficient. We also encourage corporations, resorts, equipment, and clothing vendors to think about a Vasa-like race—smaller scale, local, a people’s race—in different regions.  We know there are plenty of folks who would love to participate. Build it, and they will come.

Start of Sweden’s Vasaloppett March 3, 2019. 15,000 racers head out to Mora, 90 km away.

This Week

Mike riding the Fat Bike. Knickers are just for fun. Credit: Don Burch

Last week, we went on an expedition to the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center in Pinkham Notch, NH, with a group of ski writers to try some alternative snow sports in a beautiful setting at the base of Mt. Washington. We had heard about fat biking as a new winter option, and so off we went.  Here’s a report of what we learned.

Our Mystery Glimpse this week has a tenuous connection to St. Patrick’s Day coming up next week. If you get this one, you’ve clearly been around the sport for a while. And we reveal the previous week’s picture as Al Johnson, a legend of the Rockies who started the first races in silver mining country.

This week’s Ask The Expert has a question about knee replacement answered by an orthopedic physician. We know a lot of readers will find this helpful.

Co-publisher Jon Weisberg reviews a number of ski-assist devices. These tools can help you extend your sporting life and are worth exploring. Click here for his story.

Finally, Jon also visited Powderhorn Mt. in western Colorado. Powderhorn is another of those off-the-beaten track areas that offer value to senior skiers.  There’s even a weekly Young-At-Heart program for 50-plus that offers guided skiing, lunch, and apres ski. Click here for the Resort Review.

Thanks again for supporting SeniorsSkiing.com. Tell your friends and remember, there are more of us every day and we aren’t going away.

 

One Comment

  1. Avatar Brian Webber says:

    Just wanted to thank you for the late November – early December article on the Dolomites Ski Safari run by Inspired Italy. My wife and I signed up almost right away for the 2nd week of February despite thoughts that this was more than we could handle, started training and spent hours figuring out clothing and accessories options to fit those wonderful Vaude backpacks. All successfully. On day one of the ski week, which was a shake-out, it was clear that we would be holding back the group and we accepted, with much relief in reality, to opt for a more relaxed program. That none the less included a night in a rifugio but that allowed us to benefit from the comforts of the delightful base hotel, Cavalino d’Oro, in Castelrotto. The Inspired Italy “family” guided us each day and we had a truly great experience. Not the least of which was the partaking of the vast selection of restaurants in the middle of the pistes. None of the North American cafeteria lines, cardboard bowls and plates and plastic cutlery. Full and efficient service throughout. And, by the way, weather was clear and sunny for all but the first day.

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