The annual 2003 West Yellowstone Fall Camp in West Yellowstone, Montana ended last weekend. The ski conditions were the best I have seen at that time of year in more than a decade — maybe the best ever. Between 800 and 1000 skiers visited the town from November 20 — December1 – and some are still there enjoying some great skiing. Approximately 150 took part in the three or five day ski clinic, several hundred elite racers did a sprint and a classic race while the remaining 6-700 hundred made their own â€œprivateâ€ individual or family camp.
There are not many places left on earth where you can put your skis on right outside the hotel entrance and ski on the road the 300 yards or so to the trail-head. Roughly 30 kilometer of gently rolling ski courses were â€œbuffed outâ€ for both skating and classic.
My two kids (age 7 and 12) got a kick out of â€œgoing shoppingâ€ on skis in the town’s streets — they think that’s how it was when I grew up in Norway. As with Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy — I’ll let them continue to believe in that for as long as they want.
I decided to ski into the park the same evening when Gordon showed me photos and described his morning workout. I wasn’t as lucky in spotting the big animals but was about 50 yards from a curious coyote, saw a bunch of ducks, some swans and decided to come back the next day.
At breakfast I talked Gordon into joining me for yet another park workout. In the wax room we ran into Olympic and World Champion Thomas Alsgaard. He was also heading for the park so the three of us teamed up and skied in together.
We had no particular plan for how long we were going to ski, but see how it was and how we felt. I realized that I must have been a little too excited and pushed the pace for a while when Gordon after 45 minutes finally said: â€œTorbjorn, my lactate is about 8 and I’m tired from 3 hour in the park yesterday — slow downâ€
Thomas smiled and we dropped the pace a couple notches.
It was now starting to snow and we were getting a bit hungry. Thomas pulled up three big Sneakers bars from his pocked; we shared the last of the water bottles and skied home into the (small) snow storm. Thomas still looked to be in great shape so we didn’t (at any point) yell: â€œfirst one back or I’ll beat you to the gateâ€
The pace back was level 3 for us anyway — for 1.30 hour — plenty hard enough.
A great day in West Yellowstone.
As Alsgaard said: â€œThis is why we’re Cross-Country skiers!â€
See you in West Yellowstone next year!