It’s here: the first skiable snow of the season fell over the weekend in Anchorage, Alaska, much to the delight of area skiers and envy of everyone in the continental U.S. Rock skis were still necessary, but the close access, crisp air and fresh powder ushered in that first-snow excitement even for athletes used to skiing throughout the summer on Eagle Glacier.
“I was a little blown away by the snow,” said Alaska Pacific University’s Rosie Brennan. “We have actually had horrible weather the last month with tons of rain and lots of epic windstorms so to wake up to snow and sunshine was incredible.”
Upon waking up to a white dusting on Saturday morning, Brennan’s first thought was how she would train that day on slick roads. Once word got out that there was more snow higher up, however, the problem became a gift. There would be skiing in September.
“With that, Sadie [Bjornsen] and I actually ran (through lots of snow and mud) up to Glen Alps where we had a car parked with our skis in it, then threw on our skis and went for a little ski,” Brennan said.
“It was certainly rock-ski conditions, but we were able to glide and get the feeling of snow for sure… We were having a blast and enjoying every minute of it. It was certainly winter-like snow, surprisingly dry and fluffy.”
The timing of the unexpected snow meant that, for the first time in her career, Brennan was on skis for at least one day in every month of the year.
“September is the one month we don’t go to the glacier so it is always the hardest month of the year to get on snow,” Brennan said. “I was pretty happy to ski and be able to say I’ve skied at least once a month this entire year.”
Now in her second year living in Anchorage and skiing for APU, Brennan says the total on-snow time has been invaluable to her development as a skier.
“It is one of the biggest perks to training in Alaska. The transition to snow gets easier and easier every time I do it. To be able to keep in touch with the feeling of snow not only helps my muscle memory, but helps my mind. It’s much easier to train for skiing [when] actually skiing… This has been a huge benefit to me and is certainly one of my favorite parts of being part of APU.”
Brennan left the Alaskan snow behind on Monday to fly to Park City, Utah, where she and several of her APU teammates will join the U.S. Ski Team’s October training camp. The dryland and snow skiing alike have helped Brennan get closer to her goals.
“Technique has been a big goal of mine the past few years, so getting so much time on skis gives me the opportunity to work intensely on technique, let my body absorb the changes during dryland, then return to snow to see if any of it stuck,” Brennan said.
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.