Badger cannot wait one more minute for it to snow. When his friend Hedgehog explains that everything comes in its time, Badger is as unconvinced and impatient as ever.
While Alaska and the Western regions of the USA get their first taste of on-snow skiing, New England’s skiers—high schools, clubs, and college ski teams of the East coast—still wait eagerly for their first signs of winter. In recent years, the nordic skiers of New England and New York have experienced an ever-lengthening rollerski season that often lasts all the way until Christmas and the New Year. It’s reflective of a changing climate that has not been hospitable to the patrons of our sport, and there is little information to suggest that this pattern of dwindling snow will change anytime soon.
While students at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks enjoy their first on-snow interval sessions, skiers from Bates College (Lewiston, Maine) were about as far away from snow as they could possibly be this weekend: Acadia National Park, on the coast of Maine. This training camp with the Bates ski team was designed to be a productive weekend of high-quality training in one of the most beautiful places in the East, but it reminded many team members of the serious inequality present in the ski world when it comes to time on snow. While many athletes are honing their skills on snow in the West and in Alaska, their Eastern counterparts are still relegated to the same training that they have been doing since the spring months. Many Bates College student-athletes found it somewhat comical to be prepping for the ski season by traveling to the Atlantic coast, but there is simply no snow to be found in the region. Skiers in New England are being presented with fewer and fewer winter venue options for training and racing, as only a select few ski centers in the East have the good fortune of being able to produce artificial snow. Athletes at Bates College, Middlebury College, and other institutions are slated to travel to Lake Placid, New York in just a week to find a small ribbon of artificial snow prepared to give racers in the East their first chance to ditch the rollerskis; still, the lack of cold weather in the region this November has called that snowmaking effort into question. With the U.S. National Championships rapidly approaching, most teams in the East will travel to Soldier Hollow, Utah lacking on-snow practice hours. But that has become an unfortunate and consistent reality for the skiers of New England and New York.
Badger’s friends have a few tricks up their sleeve to try to get the snow’s attention and distract their pal in the meantime. In the end, Badger sees there’s no trick—only waiting—until at last, it’s time.
A lifelong resident of the State of Vermont—and graduate of Stratton Mountain School—Wyatt Teaford is in his first year on the Bates College Ski Team.