The XC World Cup is is my favorite sport to follow, for lots of reasons. Foremost among these reasons is that I love to ski, and I have been lucky enough to be able to ski quite a bit here in Northfield, after many years away while living in relatively less snowy and/or skiable places. XC skiing is a great sport – fun, challenging, interesting. On this point, I can’t wait to ski in the City of Lakes Loppet on February 1.
A second reason that I love the WC is that the competition itself is engrossing, thanks to a wide variety of race formats (everything from 1500 meter sprints to 50 kilometer marathons, from individual time trials to 8km hillclimbs), numerous beautiful venues all over Europe (and even in Asia and North America), and the fact that the skiing itself is surpassingly beautiful to watch – the perfect mix of power and grace. This (poorly scored) video of the great German skier Tobias Angerer does a good job showing the sport:
The second real reason that the World Cup is fun to follow is that a genius web friend has developed a fantasy league for those of us who – unlike your common-as-dirt baseball and football fans – have heretofore not had a make-believe competition in which to utilize our insanely narrow and deep knowledge of the sport. I’m practically itching to get my (faux) team together and go nerdily head to head against other ski-racing fans. I’ll note in closing that I won the damn league last year, so now I have some credibility and a reputation to defend. Bring on the snow!
It is officially snowing here in Northfield. Light flurries began promptly at eleven a.m. and have continued since then, occasionally intensifying to pretty heavy blowing. The ground’s too warm to let any of it accumulate, though.
The crisp early-October morning weather is heightening my eagerness for some snow, so I was excited to hear Mark Seeley, a U of Minnesota climatologist and state celebrity, say last Friday on Minnesota Public Radio that the Twin Cities have received measurable snowfall in forty Octobers since 1884, most recently in 2002. October snow is actually pretty late for some parts of the continent, of course. On August 31, the Canadian cross-country skier Devon Kershaw blogged about significant snowfall in the Rockies, and a couple of ski teams in Alaska actually did a bit of snow skiing in September. And this weekend, the forecast for Spearfish, South Dakota, is nicely white:
When I get rich figuring out how to profit on the Wall Street collapse, I’ll use my third million dollars to install this on my woodland estate in northern Minnesota. (The first million will go in the bank, the second to buy the property and build a modest 9 BR, 8 bath shack in one corner of the lot.)
With fall now incipient, I restarted my rollerskiing regimen this weekend with my usual route on the country roads around our place. The weather was agreeable, the roadkilled animals were few, the traffic was very light, and the scenery was amazing. I almost crashed admiring this view (the “Kane Avenue High Point” on my rollerskiing map):