Road-trip: The California Gold Rush 2003

FasterSkierMarch 28, 2003

Go West
The Karlsen’s took off from Park City,Utah by car right after school on
Thursday March 20th – heading west for the California Gold and Silver Rush at
Royal Gorge, North America's largest XC ski area on March 23rd. Royal Gorge is
located in the Sierra Mountains about 50 minutes from Reno, Nevada. This is
usually my last race of the season and the family- wife Kris and children Solveig
(7) and Annika (11) were excited to join me for a little ski vacation.

The drive is approximately 575 miles (each way) and mostly through the Utah/Nevada
desert country. Very little vegetation, large naked surrounding mountains, lots
of sand and rocks and one town scattered every 70 miles or so. Some of the mining,
gambling and rail-road towns you go through are Wendover, Wells, Elko, Battle
Mountain, Winnemucca and finally Reno. The altitude is roughly 4500-5500 feet
or 1500-1600 meter until you reach Reno where you climb up to 7000 feet or 2100
meters at Royal Gorge, the race site. The roads are mostly straight forward
without large turns or curves and at one point – across the Utah Salt
Flats you drive perfectly straight forward for 40 miles – it’s like
driving on water or glass.
Every radio station we listened to while leaving Salt Lake City, Utah was talking
about the war in Iraq and it was obviously hard not to reflect on the sadness
of war while at the same time being so privileged that we can go on vacation
for a XC ski race.
I consider myself very lucky that I live in a country and society where this
is possible.

I spent two years in the Norwegian Army, one of them as a sergeant and weapons
instructor and have a father that spent one year in a German prison camp during
the Second World War – I can therefore vaguely envision some of the horrors
that are taking place but I have no illusions that without being there you can
understand the tragedy that is happening.

I’m not an expert in “right or wrong”, however I can’t
try to judge this “event” without viewing it in the light of the
September 11th terrorist attack which I still remember- like it was yesterday.
That (event) made a life lasting impression and I think the reality is that
it could happen again -it’s to me a very real THREAT- however this time
it could be on a much bigger scale.
If the existing Iraqi regime could sponsor, support or create such action which
I believe they could -I give the action taken my full support. My hat off to
those who fights for our freedom.
High Speed
Our first stop was at a “view point” out on the famous Utah Salt
Flats about 100 miles West of Salt Lake City.
This is where World land speed records by cars have been sets since such things
were invented: 300, 400, 500 and even 600 miles per hour – without

Today the Salt Flats contained too much water for any car racing – it
dries up during the summer and I believe the best time to bring out your “built
like a rock” truck or Nissan is in the late summer and fall. Many years
ago I actually went skiing and rollerskiing out here one morning. The skiing
was a little slow and the rollerski wheels didn’t like the salt –
oh well. A week later I went out with my new race bike to see how fast I could
go – with tail wind – and realized that I needed much bigger gears! The
most fun is the type you make on your own!
When we left the Salt Flats we noticed two big American flags stuck way out
in the salt/water. They looked great with the reflection of the lake and the
mountains in the background – a very patriotic touch – on this day. 

First night’s stop
The first night was spent in Elko,Nevada. Not much to say about that place.
The motel had an indoor swimming pool and the kids enjoyed that after many hours
in the car. I got a couple hours “off” by myself and enjoyed a beer
“with the locals” in a down-town bar – hey it’s the
last race of the year! The music played was: Tesla, Hooters and Credence Clearwater
Revival so you get the picture. Observing other travelers at the breakfast buffet
the next morning made me once again realize that that people look like what
they eat: if you eat lots of biscuits with gravy – that’s what you’ll
look like.
Lake Tahoe

We arrived at our next destination –Lake Tahoe- on Friday at 2PM and checked
in at a “on the lake” hotel in Incline Village on the Nevada side.
A great place with spectacular views and a room 20 yards from the lake. Lake
Tahoe at 6229 feet is a magnificent looking lake and the surrounding areas offers
great skiing, mountain biking and running/hiking – put it on your list
for “places to visit”.

It was now 55 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny, no wind and the kids behaved like true
“half Norwegians” – they got their swim suits on and jumped
into the lake – 35F is my guess – melted snow is mostly what flows
into the lake at this time of year so I passed on this opportunity to go swimming
but enjoyed seeing that true Viking blood still exist – just not in me.

The kid’s race
On Saturday we went early up to the race site so I could test some wax and ski
the course. Plenty of snow as usual since Royal Gorge/Soda Springs receives
more snow than any place in the World – my guess. Not the usual impressive
20-30 feet snow banks or snow up to the power lines (that I have seen out here
many times) today but still plenty of snow.
The conditions were perfect – hard packed, fast and sunny.

I skied the 15K loop once and enjoyed watching Annika and Solveig both participate
in the kid’s races later that morning.
Solveig’s race included target shooting with a water pistol and snow-balls,
obstacle course and some real skiing in a little loop.

She loved it and had a great experience receiving more (chocolate) gold medals
than her dad has captured all season.

Annika had the same great experience in her wave-start 500 yards sprint race.
Not too serious, prizes for every one and cake too! Great job organizers!

The Gold and Silver Rush

The weather changed dramatically during the night of Sundays Gold and Silver
Rush. Several inches of new snow, rain and wind met us in the morning of the
race. The start was at 8 AM sharp for the Gold Rush and 8.10 for the Silver
Rush and the temperature at race start and during the race was 33-36 degrees
F. It stopped raining/snowing at the start of the race and only a slight drizzle
was felt during the race. You got wet especially on your feet but not cold.
The wet snow made for a tough race – much tougher and slower than we envisioned
the day before. My own 30K Silver Rush race was OK, but strange. I won the 45-49
age group, had super fast skis but thought for a while that I would have a chance
to be top three overall. I stayed easy with the lead group for the first 7-8K
and actually felt that the pace was very easy – all the way to I was dropped
in the first long uphill!

So this was my race:
8K easy and exciting, 1K hard (for my legs) without really feeling tired –
21K of cruise speed looking forward to finish and felt I could ski forever at
that speed but not go any faster. Another exciting altitude experience!
Visit Royal Gorge
This is a very well organized race that benefits junior skiers in the Far West
region and the ski area is really worth a visit as well.
I can really envision myself skiing here for a great week of altitude skiing.
More trail kilometers than any other place in North America! A few changes in
the format of the race could easily bring this race back on the map as one of
the “must do” races in the West. The course, area, terrain, snow,
and people –it’s all in place for a race that could attract 800-1000
I can remember how Jack Turner and John Slouber made this an ESPN event in the
late eighties. That was great – let’s get it back to that level!
The Wax
Time for a little advertising: Team TBS had great skis. Justin Wadsworth won
the overall Gold Rush on SOLDA HPO5 over SOLDA F-31 Orange.
Dan Packman was the fastest in age 35-39 in the 30K Silver Rush and used SOLDA
Warm Fluor over SOLDA F-31 Yellow and I won the 45-49 year old category on the
same wax as Justin.
More reports can be found on

The drive back
The drive back was long and lonely since I dropped off the family at the Reno
airport so they could fly back and make it to school and work on Monday morning
–Tesla was still playing in Elko where I again spent the night.
What’s next?
Look for an upcoming Fasterskier 3-4 day rollerski/dryland training camp in
Park City in the beginning of June.
Use the summer to get ready for next winters battles.
Gordon (Lange), John (Aalberg) and I are now getting started on weights, biking
and running – and rollerskiing a little later.
More articles about that are “in the works”.
Enjoy the spring!


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