On March 21st, EMPO finally held the Ski-O which had originally been
planned to launch the Ski-O season in early December. Because the ESGs
were over, the event couldn't count towards anything, so a
fairly small group of EMPO's Ski-O enthusiasts was expected. However,
a surprisingly large group decided to make the trip and enjoy a
late-season opportunity to get in some great "Ski", and
hopefully some good "O".
As I was placing the controls I realized that with the crusty surface on three to 4 feet of snow provided some fantastic route choices that I didn't see when laying out the courses. This along with the excellent grooming on the extensive trail system made for some fast times on what turned out to be more of a short sprint event rather than the long orienteering format I had in mind. Some of the abandoned ski trails were nearly as skiable as the machined trails as stumps, boulders, and brush piles were covered with crusty snow that did yield to ski edges. Bushwhacking in areas without a lot of evergreen undergrowth was a viable route choice as long as participants kept their skis on so they could ride over the snow surface.
Because of the fast times, there was one point at which early finishers unexpectedly overwhelmed the two of us officiating the start and finsh. I was quite pleased with the turnout from the area high school cross country ski teams. These youth used the Lapland trail system for training and many of the High School Nordic ski races this year.
Some of the costumes worn for our race were quite bizarre, as participants wanted to finish in time for the Hawaiian costume party and other luau events scheduled the same day at the resort.
There were a number of requests to do second courses, and some even skied the same course backward to see if they could improve their time. I'm hoping the festive nature of the day and the somewhat relaxed end-of-season competition will bring some of the first timers, particularly the youth, back to the sport in the future.
-- Eric Hamilton
last updated: --Thu May 27 2004 07:58:28 PM EDT--