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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rando Training at Loveland and Ski-O at Frisco Nordic Center, 1/23/2010


After a good morning of rando ski training at Loveland Basin, where we found the staff to be very accepting of uphill skiing, James Kovacs and I headed to the Frisco Nordic Center for the focus event of the day: the Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club's Ski-O Race.

Orienteering is an excellent, of-the-beaten-path sport that involves using a small-scale topo map and a compass to find controls located out in the woods. As it turns out, this can also be done in the winter time on skis or snowshoes. For more information on accessing this fun sport in Colorado, visit www.rmoc.org.

I am planning on competing in a winter triathlon next weekend that includes skate skiing, so I figured some time on the trails would be helpful. Plus, navigation practice anytime is a good thing.

Race organizers scattered 20 checkpoints across the trails at the Frisco Nordic Center. Grabbing any eight qualifies one for the short course, any 12 is good for the medium course, and 16 gets you the long course distinction. Those who hit all 20 checkpoints, in any order, are placed in the "Extra Credit" category. I'm a high school teacher, so you can guess which category I set my sights on!

Because checkpoints could be accessed in any order, strategy and navigation were paramount. Racers had to constantly monitor their progress on nameless tracks while deciding whether or not to leave the trail and bushwhack through shortcuts every so often. There was not much snow in the woods, and I quickly discovered that taking off my skis and running through the woods often paid off.

After 69 minutes of hammering broken up by quick pauses to punch the checkpoint and look at the map, I found myself back at the Nordic Center. My first experience with ski orienteering was excellent! I had a great experience and put in the best time on the day.

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