March Nordic Newsletter

JHSC Club and Community Nordic Update

Happenings of the JHSC Nordic Program, Trail Creek Nordic Center, and Local Nordic Community

Welcome to the March edition of “What’s Going On” for the 2020-2021 season!

The really big news this month is the campaign launch for a new Trail Creek Pisten Bully!  More information is included later in this newsletter.  We hope you enjoy reading all about this and other exciting happenings in our Nordic world.

Lollipopper Team

Lollis have been busy enjoying their new play area (dubbed "Lolliland") in the East Fields, which has enabled us to return to playing group games and practicing skills before heading out into the main trail system in small groups.  We much appreciate Steve creating this out-of-the-wind spot for us to gather! 

Some of the games we've been playing have been relays of various sorts (golf balls on spoons, etc.)  Dog Sled Team (9-10 kids pulling one child in an inner tube using a long rope with hand-holds tied along the length, requiring the kids to use power push-off for skating), and a scavenger hunt in the woods.  We've spent lots of time on downhills and uphills, much to the awe of passers-by as they watch the littles come whizzing down Gut Flop or Faceplant. 

No season is complete without at least ONE trip to Sam the Truck, and this year we've been to visit Sam a couple of times!  We've had a few up-close moose sightings, and continue to use the opportunity to educate the little ones about peacefully co-existing with our four-legged track users!  There has been lots of snowfall this go-round, with the continuing storms sometimes dropping 2-3 inches just during our practice times! 

Tips up! 

Coach Kathy and the Gang

Kathy Neiley

Lollipopper Team Head Coach

Teewinot Team

Teewinot athletes really hit their Nordic stride in February!  At this point in our season, coaches are observing evidence of amazing confidence on skinny skis, from launching off jumps on Son of Gutflop to skiing powder through the Aspen Bump and flying down Faceplant and Grunt hills. Continuing with games and relays to teach agility, balance, and coordination through play, coupled with individual skill-specific coaching while adventure skiing, Teewinots are transforming into very capable young Nordies!  Although we all love a beautiful sunny day at Trail Creek, we value the importance of teaching kids to persevere through the wild weather days, as this reminds us all that happiness does not hinge on sunshine. 

Gratitude abounds for the opportunity to share the joy and beauty of Nordic with your enthusiastic Teewinot Team.  We look forward to more Nordic F-U-N at Trail Creek as we transition into the last few weeks of the season in March.

Libby Hall

Head Teewinot Coach

Devo Team

The Development Team had a fantastic month and is looking forward to fast spring skiing in the coming weeks. In February we built jumps, sped downhill, worked on technique, and went on some epic adventures.  Relay races are a go-to event this winter.  Coach Anna designed a relay race with the athletes, each pulling another athlete.  The kids switched places and then continued.  This exercise tested the athlete’s ability to grip the snow and kick correctly.  The next week we did a technique station workout.  Each coach reviewed a different aspect of skate technique—V2, V1, double pole—and transitions between techniques in this effort.  The kids rotated through, spending about 15 minutes with each coach.  The coaches all agree the Development Team is skiing really well!

An adventure ski on President’s Day took us into the National Forrest, where we saw massive old-growth pines and some of the largest aspen trees around.  We may repeat this tour if conditions are right next week.  The Nordic X course is now our main downhill route through the close fields.  Jumps, bumps, and turns help improve our agility while we have a blast skiing downhill.  Downhills were our focus last Monday when most of the athletes skied every named downhill at Trail Creek.  Wind, powder, and a broken grooming machine helped us learn to deal with adversity (an essential part of Nordic racing) and be flexible.  The last part of the season will see adventures, games, and solidifying our technique to start next year on track.  Thank you to everyone for doing their part to keep us all safe and healthy during the strangest season ever!  We all hope for a return to normal for next year. 

Rob, Mark, Pippa, Anna, Kim

Rob Murphy

Development Team Head Coach

Junior Team

Junior Nordic athletes have been really enjoying the fresh snow during the month of February.  In addition to working on technique, race strategy, and overall fitness, athletes have enjoyed hucking themselves off jumps into the fresh powder!

Junior Nordic athletes have continued to get lots of race starts this season.  Athletes have raced in locations such as McCall, Pinedale, Alta, Bozeman, and right here in Jackson!  We have had several podium finishes and, most importantly, athletes are getting valuable race experiences which will help them as they continue in their racing careers.

Thanks to parents, coaches, groomers, JHSSC supporters, and everyone who has contributed in making this such a positive and productive season!

George Cartwright

Junior Nordic Team Head Coach

Comp/Prep Teams       

The oldest JHSC age group has completed their regular season of competitions and is now entering CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON!  We ended the regular season with a bang in McCall with great performances across all age groups and genders.  Of particular note were podiums from Kate Brigham and Colton Petsch in their respective age groups.  The very same weekend part of our team raced in Pinedale, and Elsie Hall, Hailey Stines, Chloe Stines, and Mason Wheeler all took home podium honors for JHSC. 

We now pivot to skiing for championship titles, belts, and rings, starting with Wyoming State Championships this weekend in Casper.  Our high school-aged racers will be in attendance, racing to defend their team and individual titles from last year.  We will then look forward to Western Regional Junior Championships in Soldier Hollow March 11-13.  This event will take the place of Junior Nationals this year and will feature racers from across all the western divisions.  These races will be the highest level Junior races in the country this year and we are looking forward to it! 

In between races we have been smashing some Nordic powder laps, going hard in interval sessions, playing speedball, and doing run relays at Trail Creek!  As the season winds down after championships we will see more of the Nordic X and the fun features at Trail Creek. 

Will Wicherski

Head Coach and Nordic Program Director

February has been a banner month for JHSC Nordic!  All of our age groups are skiing at Trail Creek; we have been attending races locally and regionally; we wrapped up our Winter Sports programs at Colter and Wilson elementary schools; and we kicked off our campaign to buy a new Pisten Bully for Trail Creek!  

The big news this month is that the Western Youth Championships event is coming to Trail Creek March 6-7!  This event will gather the best 10–13-year-olds from across the American West at Trail Creek to race in the highest-level youth racing in the country this year!  If your athlete is in the Devo or Junior Programs, I highly encourage them to compete in this event.  More information is available at this page.

February has been a banner month for snow in the Tetons, but for Nordic skiers that means a lot of grooming!  While our groomer, Steve Swan, does a great job with trail preparation with the current equipment, our Pisten Bully is showing its age and has become unreliable at handling the piles of snow we get at the foot of Teton Pass.  You may have noticed a change in the grooming for a while this month, which resulted from a breakdown of the Pisten Bully.  We have had the current model for over 10 years and we are now fundraising to keep the corduroy at Trail Creek crisp and fresh throughout the harshest Teton weather.  Please check out the Cat Campaign website and consider donating to support JHSC athletes and keep the trails buffed at Trail Creek!

Will Wicherski

Head Coach and Nordic Program Director

This month our featured coach is Charlotte Cadow, a recent migrant to the valley and whom we are very glad to have as one of our Junior coaches this year.  Like so many of our coaches, she has had some amazing experiences growing up, and important people in her life who have helped her along the path to where she is now.  This newsletter edition shares some of Charlotte’s story and how she is passing it on to the next generation as a JHSC Nordic Coach.

Charlotte first clipped into Nordic skis at age five.  At age six she began training and racing with Vermont and New Hampshire’s Ford Sayre Nordic Program, the region’s major feeder into the Eastern Cup races.  She continued with the team into high school when her competitive focus shifted to track and cross country running.  Throughout that time, and into college, most winter evenings found her on BCXC skis exploring the snow-covered landscapes by headlamp.  The BCXC skis accompanied her to the Front and Sawatch Ranges of Colorado, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Baxter State Park in Maine, and the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

Migrating westward to study Environmental Science at Colorado College, Charlotte continued to pursue human-powered endeavors and took a semester off to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Since graduating, Charlotte has worked seasonally as an environmental educator and completed a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.  While working in Vermont and New Hampshire in the winter of 2018/2019, she rediscovered her love of skate and classic skiing.  When she moved to Jackson last fall, she brought along her Nordic ski quiver and spent the snowy months exploring the valley’s numerous local trails.  Charlotte considers herself a product of the Ford Sayre Program philosophy that, while not everyone will rise to championship levels, everyone should develop a lifelong love of skiing and the outdoors. 

Education, Professional Degrees, and Certifications:

Bachelor of Arts, Colorado College; 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training; Wilderness First Responder

Personal Philosophy or Statement:

I am passionate about cultivating intrinsic motivation in achieving one’s goals, building community, discovering new ways to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of landscapes, and spending as much time as possible outside!

“We can choose.  If all the world is a commodity, how poor we grow.  When all the world is a gift in motion, how wealthy we become.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer

Was Nordic skiing something that you discovered on your own, or did someone important in your life lead you that way?

When I was five my dad turned on the lights in our backyard and introduced my brother and me to Nordic skiing.  From the backyard, we moved up into the woods, trails, and meadows around our Vermont home.  As we trained and raced with Ford Sayre, our "heat map" of Nordic activities expanded throughout New England.  Along with road biking, hiking, camping, and mountain biking, both of these humans continue to be highly influential in shaping my passions.  Side note: my dad is currently on his 63rd consecutive day of Nordic skiing this winter, which is not always an easy feat in Vermont! 

Where do you like to ski when you aren’t at Trail Creek?

I like to mix it up!  Because I have an adventure-loving pup, we often ski at Cache Creek, Game Creek, Emily's Pond, the Park Road, and Turpin Meadows.  I've also been loving night skiing at May Park.  Back east, my favorite Nordic jaunts are Green Woodlands, Craftsbury, and Oak Hill.   

How often do you ski now?

Between coaching five days a week and cross training, I've been skiing five or six days a week this winter!  I'm hoping to hit 1000 km sometime in March.  

What age group are you coaching now?

I feel incredibly lucky to coach the Juniors, along with George, Johnny, and Everett!  I also coach for Coombs Nordic with Pippa, Molly, and Molly! 

What is your favorite memory of skiing for JHSC or at Trail Creek?

This season, Friday powder days have become a theme.  And, for the Juniors, powder means squeezing in some jumping time during practice.  Last week, I noticed one athlete had decided to opt out of jumping, and ski solo around Black's Hole.  I skied over to her and we took a lap. She was practicing her V2 technique (which, thanks to her hard work, has improved considerably this year), and appreciating the quiet beauty of this far corner of Trail Creek.  At the end of the loop, she paused and pointed to the stream.  I don't remember her exact words, but she described how clear the water was, how beautiful it was to see the subtle ways in which the landscape moves in winter, and the burbling sound of a small waterfall.  This experience combined the power of JHSC to meet each athlete's individual passions and how lucky we are to ski at Trail Creek three days a week.  I'm grateful to work with such thoughtful and dedicated kids. 

Thanks so much, Charlotte!  Our Juniors are lucky to have you!

This month we are featuring one of our JHSC competition skiers, Bridger Stiles.  Bridger has been skiing with the program for some time and is having a great year.  Read on for our interview with Bridger.

Do you remember when you started skiing?

I do not remember when I very first started Nordic skiing since that would be when I was probably only 2 or 3 years old, tour skiing in Washington; however, I do remember the first time I learned how to skate ski, which would be after moving to West Yellowstone as a young elementary schooler.  My entire family decided to take ski lessons from locals who were offering them at the Rendezvous ski trails in West Yellowstone.

Do your mom and dad Nordic ski?

My mom and dad do both Nordic ski since they learned at the same time in West Yellowstone how to skate ski just as I did, and they have recreationally tour skied for a long time.  Neither of them skied in high school since that opportunity was not an option in Nebraska where they grew up.

Assuming you can beat them, do you remember how old you were the first time you beat your mom or your dad in a race?

I don’t think I have ever raced against my parents.  One time in West Yellowstone I did do a relay race on a team with them and one other teacher at the local school.  My parents don’t race too frequently and when they did I always tended to be racing different distances than them as a kid.

At what age did you start skiing with the Jackson Hole Ski Club program?

I started skiing with the Jackson Hole Ski Club when I moved to Jackson Hole in the beginning of sixth grade.  I believe at that point I would’ve been 11 years old.

What grade are you in now?

I am now a junior at Jackson Hole High School and 17 years old.

What are your Nordic goals for this year?

My Nordic goals for this year, before COVID-19, were to earn top 10 finishes at Junior Nationals.  Now my goals are more oriented with improving my ability as a skier with still being tied somewhat to top 5 or 10 result goals at the Western Junior National Championships which will still be happening in Soldier Hollow, Utah.

What has been the high point of your year so far?

So far the high point of my year has been the races I have been able to travel to in Soldier Hollow, UT, Bozeman, MT, and McCall, ID, races that are normally the Junior National Qualifier events.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to participate in these races with everything that is going on in the world, and have gotten some pretty solid results as well.

Could you share with us a bit about how Covid has affected your skiing this year?

This year COVID has certainly had a pretty large effect on skiing.  Although most of our races were still able to happen, there was no traveling with the team to races this year and Junior and Senior Nationals were canceled.  The pandemic has threatened to cancel training multiple times and forced me to quarantine and train by myself multiple times as well.  With the canceling of Junior Nationals, my overall season goals were changed completely and I and many other athletes were forced to orient goals more around personal improvement, as well as forced to realize that the primary purpose in skiing is for fun, socialization, and personal challenge rather than just competition and results.

What are your college and career plans after high school?

After high school I plan to attend college and earn a bachelor’s and probably a master’s degree as well.  I would like to continue to ski in college and possibly pursue a degree in something medical or engineering related.

Are you planning on participating in Nordic skiing or other athletics in college?

I do plan on continuing to Nordic ski in college, probably competitively but definitely at least recreationally.

What is your favorite memory of skiing for JHSC or at Trail Creek?

One of my favorite memories with JHSC was the summer training camp weeklong trip to Bend, Oregon and especially the final day where we ascended and descended Mt Bachelor on our skate skis.

What has been the biggest challenge of your Nordic skiing experiences so far?

The biggest challenge of my Nordic skiing experience so far has probably just been maintaining a good mentality after races and trying to look at things I did well and things I could improve rather than just whether I had a good or bad race or result.

In a decade from now do you see yourself living in a place where you can Nordic ski?

In a decade from now I do see myself living somewhere where I can Nordic ski because I have a passion for the outdoors and especially for winter recreation with both Nordic skiing and recreational alpine skiing.  I’ve had many coaches say that Nordic skiing is a lifelong sport and I believe I will continue Nordic skiing in the future.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with the Nordic community?

I’d like to thank my parents and everyone in the JHSC and Nordic community for everything that they do to make it possible for us to train and travel and ski.  The opportunity to be in an amazing program and sport in a location like Jackson Hole is an important part of my life, something I’m sure many other members of the club would agree with.

Thanks so much for being our featured athlete this month Bridger and thanks for having such a great attitude in this strange Covid year!  Your future is certainly bright no matter where you go!

February has been a crazy busy month for our Nordic skiers with the events listed below all on the docket since the last Nordic newsletter.  Our skiers have been making us proud!  Click on any of the links to see the results (State Championships were just about to proceed at press time.)

January 30-31, 2021           IMD Junior National Qualifier #2  Bozeman, MT

February 5-6, 2021              Lander Nordic Meet                         Lander, WY

February 12-13, 2021          Pinedale Nordic Meet                     Pinedale, WY

February 13-14, 2021          IMD Junior National Qualifier #3  McCall, ID

February 19-20, 2021          Cody Nordic Meet                            Pahaska Teepee

February 26-27, 2021          WY High School Championship  Casper Mountain, WY

In the wider world of master’s racing, things have been happening as well.  The month started off with a Virtual Boulder Mountain Tour happening February 1-7.  The results page is rather fascinating, with racers competing all over the world, even at our very own Trail Creek.

The American Birkebeiner was in progress as this newsletter was going to press, with a hybrid virtual/in person format.  A quick view of the results showed that most competitors were from the Midwest although virtual results were not yet posted.  You can follow along here.

We are ramping up for our final racing event of the year, the Western Youth Championships March 6-7, 2021.  This wraps up a huge season with 5 races.  Thanks to the Nordic community for coming together to make this happen!

Our Pisten Bully was down for a while this month, with the persistent problem of final drives cropping up again.  We are up and running, with new diagnostic equipment in place to hopefully solve this frustrating problem.

Of course, there have been lots of critters running around our trails throughout the month.  About a dozen moose, and probably half a dozen more elk, have been doing a wonderful job of firming our trails, if perhaps not in the most corduroy fashion.  While the moose are relatively easy to spot, to find the elk you will have to be an early bird as they head for cover early in the morning.

Finally, record numbers of skiers continue to enjoy our trails.  Our memberships and day passes are better than ever as people look for safe opportunities to exercise during the pandemic.  Although the past year has been challenging in many ways, hopefully some of the positive things that have happened will continue past the pandemic, making for a better world all around.

Keep on keeping safe and keep on skiing!

As this newsletter is being posted the Wyoming High School Championships are happening in Casper.  The final major event of the year at Trail Creek is coming up on March 6-7, the IMD Youth Championships, where you can look for a weekend of fun racing, with younger IMD skiers from all over the mountain west gathering for a great wrap up of the season.

Even though the national championships have been cancelled this year, our older racers will have one last chance to compete at the Western Region Championships in Soldier Hollow, UT March 10-13.

In the world of master’s racing there are events happening, although most are on a somewhat limited basis, with registration possibly being closed at this time.  The West Yellowstone Rendezvous is March 6th, THE Birkebeiner in Norway is March 20th, and there is one last IMD event, the Cross Country Spring Series in Sun Valley, ID March 25-28. 

Don’t forget that a Covid version of the Pole, Pedal, Paddle is a go for April 10th.

Keep on skiing but be sure to keep yourself and others safe until we are truly through the pandemic!

New Pisten Bully

Before we end this newsletter by thanking all who support our mission of providing our community with an important pillar in a healthy lifestyle in our unique mountain community, we want to reach out to our current supporters, along with the community in general, to ask for support in our mission to obtain a new Pisten Bully.

Nordic skiing is an amazing sport and, while it is possible to ski without groomed trails, the ability to groom those trails greatly expands the range of experiences available.  Our current Pisten Bully has been chugging away for more than a decade and the time has come to replace it with a newer and more environmentally friendly model.  In order to do this we need your help.

Below is the moving testimonial of one of our former athletes, Annabel Hagen:

10+ years of my life have been spent romping around Trail Creek, through the woods, down Suicide on a Nordie powder day, and zooming through Armin’s Loop on a perfect Toko blue day.  These years at Trail Creek have provided me with so many opportunities that go beyond just skiing, including the opportunity to attend an incredible college (Harvard).

Racing in high school and racing in college back east have brought me to countless ski venues and I began to realize how nice Jackson kids have it . . . and we have it good.  A lot of venues have countless kilometers of trails, or beautiful scenery, or good grooming, but very few have all three.  Trail Creek is a place that has all three.  A high level venue allows for high level training and produces high level athletes.

The difference between feeling really good or just ok in an interval session can come down to how the trails feel and what the grooming was like that day.  Steve has been an integral part in making sure these trails are able to provide the highest quality of training possible, and without a working groomer he is unable to do his job and the athletes feel the effects.  I have benefited immensely from growing up skiing at Trail Creek, and making a contribution to getting a new grooming machine is the least I can do to say thank you for all the amazing years on these trails.

We really need your support!  Venture to the 2021 Cat Campaign Page.  Thank you!

Thanks so much to the skiers and sponsors who make this all possible, with an extra special thanks to our season pass holders!  Ablondi/Wuersche Family, Dave Adams, Barret Family, Mark Baudenstiel,  Binning Family, Bosch Family, Brigham Family, Lori Cahn, Callaghan Family, John Clegg, Coburn/Thunder Family, Curtis/Adams Family, Arielle D’Arge, Darin Family, June Darin, Peggy Davenport, Dunbar/Wattenmaker Family, Everett Family, Gingery Family, Alex Gingery, Caroline Girling, Gordon/Mick Family, Lena Goss, Gross Family, Gute/Tong Family, Hagen Family, Ann Harvey, Henderson/Ratcliffe Family, Scott Horn, Eric Huber, Laurie Huff, Maggie Hunt, Karns Family, Kern Family, King Family, Koch/Nyrop Family, Kohlhardt Family, Nancy Lee, Leeds Family, Nancy Leon, Amy Lorenz, Lovett Family, Kristina MacLeod, Maria Mahood, Ann Makley, McGee Family, Hannah McKenzie Black, Wyley Menolascino, Moller Family, Moss Family, William Neal, Neterre Family, Newcomb/VonMaur Family, O’Brien Family, O’Malley/Jensen Family, Olsson Family, Peacock Family, Annika Peacock, Peck Family, Wayne Petsch, David Plunkett, Jim Roscoe, Catherine Rose, Nicholas Rusher, Schilling Family, Segal Family, Shriver Family, Sluszka Family, Parker Smith, Roger Smith, Springer Family, Sullivan Family, Avery Sullivan, Kaitlyn Sullivan, Thal Family, Charlie Thomas, Meaghan Tozzi, Brian Van Hatten, Polly Wakeman, Jocelyn Wasson, Olivia Weenig, Boden Welch, Chad Whaley, AJ Wheeler, Ben Williams, Steph Williams, Chris Wimberg, Wiswell Family, Wolff/Wild Family, Liam Wylie, Yeo Family, and Nico Yeomans.

Thanks to The Groomer’s Wife

Thanks to our amazing staff!

Pippa Blau, Charlotte Cadow, George Cartwright, Patrick Dominick, Alissa Ehrenkrantz, Jon Filardo, Anna Gibson, Charlie Gorski, Libby Hall, Lauri Harris, Lizzie Johnson, Haley Mahar, Ann Makley, Rob Murphy, Kathy Neiley, Mark Newcomb, Bill Oliphant, Johnny Springer, Steve Swan, Luna Wasson, Will Wicherski, Calvin Wight, Tyra Wynn, and Kim Young.

Thank you to the multitude of youth athletes, for whom this program is designed and would be impossible without their dedication and support!

A special thanks to Jackson Hole Nordic for being a strong supporter of our programs.