Saturday, January 7, 2023
Contributed by Eric Ness
The Central Oregon Nordic Club is a sponsor of the Southern League Jamboree nordic ski race at Diamond Lake. Bend High Schools, as well as LaPine, South Eugene, and Ashland are all a part of this league which is in the Oregon Interscholastic Ski Race Association Nordic (OISRAN). Diamond Lake is a convenient, central location for a race for these schools. I entered the Citizens Race that follows the High School race only as an excuse to make the drive to Diamond Lake.
I’m glad I did. There were no expectations on my part, but I was quickly caught up in the energy of the event. Several of the High Schools had sunshades erected as umbrellas from the snow where waxing stations were being used. All of the High School participants were wearing their lycra shirts as they waxed their skis and prepared for the race. Two tents had been erected for potential medical needs, and many race officials gathered to receive instructions on where along the course they’d be stationed. Some race officials placed the astro turf mats along side the course where skiers could switch from classic skis to skate skis in the individual pursuit event.
At the mass start, I was amazed at the level of strength and proficiency these High Schoolers exhibited. All skiers initially have to double pole for a prescribed distance before they can either enter the groomed track for classic skiing, or start skating. The crowd quickly thinned out and the athletes settled into a semi-organized pace line. The Pursuit event consisted of three laps of classic technique, followed by three laps of the skate technique, for a total of 8.4 km. The classic events and the skate events both consisted of three laps, for a total of 4.2 km.
Mountain View High School had the most participants at 39 students, followed by LaPine, Ashland, South Eugene, and Caldera with from 4 to 8 participants each. I spoke with the coach of Mountain View, Eric Martin, who is the son of long-time CONC members Bill and Jinny Martin. He mentioned that half of his team was in their first year of nordic racing, and was obviously excited about this statistic. All levels of experience were seen on the snow, and obviously welcomed with encouragement and inclusion by the other skiers. The whole atmosphere was very positive and I was glad that CONC was a sponsor of this race.
The final event was the Citizens Race. I knew that Eric Martin, at age 54, had recently been a nationally ranked master’s skier, so I was happy to be able to watch him ski. There was obviously a private competition between him and another skier I didn’t know, as the two sped around the track with one in the wake of the other for the entire 8.4 km. It was a joy to be able to witness the power and grace of highly ranked skiers like these two, and like most of the High School racers, too! Next year, I already have plans to attend this High School race and would encourage all other CONC members to join me!