Monday, March 15, 2010

A ski-centric weekend—without much skiing: Wirth kids race

The second in a three-part series

Last week on Facebook, I saw a video of the ski-ter–totter they'd set up over at Wirth:

I said, in a sense, "I want to go to there." I asked how I could and they said "come volunteer at noon on Saturday." That I can do. I am usually racing in races, so I can't volunteer for them; this is a chance to give back. And little kids skiing around are cute.

On Friday, I got an email. They were starting a bit earlier. Could I be there at 10:15? Sure! It's not like I went to Hayward the night before. So I set my alarm, woke up in the morning, and hopped on my bike for the ride over to Wirth. The ride went well with two glitches. First, when I tried to navigate the ramp from West River Parkway to 1st Street and 5th Avenue S (southeast corner), I found out that my skis were rather wider than the ramp. I got stuck, stopped, backed out, and walked my bike up the stairs.

The ride through Downtown Minneapolis (yes, down Hennepin with my skis) was fine for a while; I was not too wide for the Bassett Creek Trail spiral bridge (although it was close, and I took it very easy) and zoomed off towards the park. The one problem was that someone decided to groom the bike trail for skiing, and where it had been groomed it had not melted (everything else was dry). The Googles bike directions say it was a third of a mile, and I walked/hike-a-biked most of it. (Here's my whole route on Google bike directions; I did not follow what it suggested—hence all the waypoints—and took the Greenway home.)

Once I got to the race site, I was put to work. As the races finished up, John Swain and I set the course for the SkiX-c course. This entailed carrying V-board (well, C-board, well, painted PVC pipes) around, putting in a ton of flags, and making sure the slalom course was not too easy or too hard. Jojo Winters helped out as well. The kids had fun, no one went in to a utility poles, and the biggest mishap of the day was when I lost a ski while carrying the snow auger downhill (to put in the slalom gates). I wound up sitting on the ground with a 18" long drill bit and Ed Swain (John's dad) laughing at me as I chased my ski downhill. One of the bindings on my rock skis had broken; I spent the race trying to figure out how to put it together and finally used one of the tools in my bike bag to do so. The plastic is still cracked, but it works.

I skied the course a couple of times—it was about the right difficulty, and took a few trips over the ski-ter–totter. Then we played ski soccer (like the game, but a bit less tackley, and with the stipulation that you kick the ball through the goal, which I didn't really like) which was fun. It was adults vs. kids and John and I were on the kids team (apparently the age cutoff was about 26, as Carolyn Bramante, an olympic biathlete and former City of Lakes champion, and the one performing the sweet tele landing off the ski-ter–totter, was on the adult team). Everyone won. Everyone was soaked. Okay, especially me; I tackled the adults.

Then it was time to clean up, switch in to the slightly-drier bike shoes, and bike home. Slowly.

But the ski weekend without much skiing (today was the only day I actually donned ski boots) was not over yet!

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