Waiting for Snow

Wyatt TeafordNovember 14, 2023
Skiers on the coast of Maine . . . waiting for snow. (Photo: Wyatt Teaford/Bates College Skiing)
Marsha Diane Arnold authored a delightful children’s book: Waiting for Snow. Lovingly illustrated by Renata Liwska, Waiting for Snow tells the story of Badger who is impatient for winter’s arrival. When we were kids, we waited impatiently for everything: for Christmas, for birthdays, for dessert, for recess, and for the first snowy day of winter. In the adulthood of Nordic skiing, the first snowy day is still the source of immense anticipation. Patience, Badger . . .
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.

Skiers wait impatiently for the snow to fall . . . with grateful acknowledgments to the author, Marsha Diane Arnold; and to the illustrator, Renata Liwska.
Children’s books so often get it right: the story, the script, the images, the philosophy . . . and it’s always good for New England skiers to receive some patience-perspective here in the late autumn. Of course, this isn’t the first season that patience has been a necessary virtue. Cold places get snow: Alaska, Scandinavia, the Upper Midwest. High places get snow: the Rockies, the Alps, the Dolomites. New England, on the other hand, gets storms. There’s no gentle nightly snowfall in Vermont or New Hampshire or Maine: when those places get snow, it comes in the form of Nor’easters—heavy snow-making juggernauts swirling in off the Gulf of Maine. In winter, those storms are typically spaced 3-4 weeks apart: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents’ Weekend, Spring Break . . . New England ski areas rely on those storm cycles. And when those storms bring snow, they bring FEET of snow. So when storms fail to arrive on schedule—or when the ambient temperature creates rain instead of snow—then any hope of skiing will be forced to wait a few more weeks. Patience, Badger . . .

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.

Bates College skiers on the beach . . . winter still seems far, far away. (Photo: Wyatt Teaford/Bates College Skiing)

Wyatt Teaford

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.

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