Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Grand Mesa Nordic: their new toy

Here's what you needed up in Chama, Clay!

Chama Chili Classic Recap

The 34th (almost annual) Chama Chili Ski Classic is now in the past and just part of our memory...well, not quite. We have some things to do and lessons learned from this past edition for making plans for next year's race.

This year's race was the best one I've seen yet. I did the event WAY back in 1992, when I had first started xc skiing. I had some really old equipment and didn't know what I was doing, but had fun. I don't remember how many people did the event, but it was quite a few...probably almost 100. I do remember crashing a couple of times on the big scary downhill.

This year, as in the past two years, Chama contacted me to groom it, as the event is put on by non-xc skiers that know nothing about course prep or grooming. And, as in the past two editions, it was considerably more work than I had bargained for. Tom Berg has always warned me that this is really "Pisten-Bully" country and requires a substantial machine to get the job done. He should know...he and Elliot Norquist used to groom the area in the old NORSKI days, including a few past editions of the Chili Classic.
Dina and I went up on Friday night (thereby missing this year's Mt. Taylor Quad =( to groom on Saturday. The Chama folks told me that they had some guys run the course with snowmobiles that they laid out by snowshoeing the week before. I told them that the course needed to employ some "moderate" terrain and needed to be run a lot, and very wide. Well, they laid out a great course, but it was a little extreme in spots, and there was over 8 feet of snow to hack through. The path the snowmobilers ran wasn't very wide either, so we had a lot of work to do. It was really too much...frustrating, aggravating and physically very tiring, but it was awesome country and a labor of love for a good cause. It took probably 12 hours on my part, and an equal amount on Dina's part, plus, I got them to get me a guy (turns out, a young hot-dog snowmobile racer from Antonito) to help me get around the course early on Sunday. He drove too fast, lost one of our 60lb lead track weights, and got buried himself twice! Oh well, we managed, but that meant yet more digging for me on race morning =P

Registrations had poured in over, and they expected about 40 skiers. Over 75 showed up when it was all said and done! That's a success by any measure. I was happy that we spent so much time getting the course groomed. Many racers from Colorado, New Mexico and even Arizona showed up. UNM brought a few skiers, including their still-very-fast coach Fredrik Landstedt, and two of New Mexico's top athletes, regardless of sport: Kristina Strandberg of the Subaru elite team and Martina Stursova of the Rossignol elite team, both came too. This was shaping up to be a great event.
Dina and I had a lot to do race morning. We had to get up early and find something to eat. Luckily, there was a place open just down the road. It was great and we enjoyed the quiet moment.

Soon, we made our way up the pass to get the grooming and course prep finished. I had to get a guy-- a young hot-dog kid from Antonito -- on a snowmobile to help me pull in the parallel track for classical technique, as our machine just didn't have the guts to pull all of that weight and resistance. He didn't do a very good job, as all he knew was snowmobile racing, not slow-paced grooming. He somehow managed to get stuck twice and leave a couple of big holes that I had to go fill in before the race started. Oh well...we managed.
Racers finally showed up and we lined up for the event. The race director and I gave some instructions for the event, and soon we were off. Cross-country ski racing is not very forgiving. It is tough and this course was by far one of the toughest there is. I soon felt all of the effects of the grooming efforts and felt like I was dragging a cinder block around. I was very tired and sluggish. I soon had to let the group of 5 or 6 racers ahead go on without me. I felt 3 or 4 more just behind, but they were waiting until later.

We made it over the first few huge hills and got out onto the Cumbres and Toltec rail grade. It was there that two more guys went around me, but I caught a couple, to my amazement. I felt awful, with a very tired and sore back. I just settled into a pace that I could sustain for the rest of the event, which included another one of these heinous laps.

I didn't lose too much ground to the guys just in front, but I did lose a good amount to Vsevolod. He smoked the course. Not too far behind him were the two women pros, Kristina and Martina.

I finished a belabored 8th. It was just fun to ski. We all finished things up, Dina helped me load all of the equipment, and we made our way down to Chama for post-race celebrations. It was a very fun event and a very fun day.

Look for the event again next year. It should be even bigger and better.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chama Chili Ski Classic was ...well CLASSIC!

Beautiful weather, great snow, awesome course and over 70 upbeat participants made for a fantastic event! More posts on this to follow, I'm sure. Here is a shot of part of the start line - some UNM team, Kristina Strandberg of Subaru, Martina Stursova of Rossignol and if you look carefully, Tarik Saleh in orange and dark green stripes, with John Ullman behind him in a neon green collar and Gene Dougherty in a white and red KHS jersey pretending to be one of the UNM guys. Good showing for SWNSC!! By the way, you cant see him but they are all watching Clay Moseley (aka master groomer) explain the course and in particular the exciting/epic downhill on it! Check out for race results and eventually more race photos.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Grooming Update, 15 Feb 2007

Last night woods were set with a new classic track, road and meadow with a 10-12' skating lane...but it snowed another 5-6" on that 6" of new groomed snow, for a total of 10" according to the Pajarito web site, so it may be more like touring up there today!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tonight's Tuesday Night Ski

John Bernardin's evening ski is tonight, here are the details:

"We'll meet again tonight for our Tuesday Night Ski. Assemble at the West
end of the ski hill parking lot shortly before 5:30pm. We traditionally
(now that we've done this a few times) classic ski, although skaters are
certainly welcome. It should be snowing this afternoon and evening, so
conditions should be incredible for an evening ski through the woods (like
2 weeks ago). Bring a head lamp as we tend to finish up about 7:00pm. We
will ski some combination of the trail system and travel at an easy pace,
regrouping at several locations. This is a social event, intended to bring
people together, share skiing stories, pass on skiing tips to newbies,
etc. Come on out and tell your friends.

Ken was complaining that there was no food or drink following the last Tue
night ski, so all are encouraged to bring along something to share after
the ski.


Monday, February 12, 2007


Yes! Classic all the way - classic only 5k and 10k - beautiful course and great race organization with delicious green chile stew at the awards.
Register now at
for details and lodging see race website at

There is also a complimentary guided snowshoe trek on Saturday afternoon - so bring your snowshoeing friends.
Come and support the only xc ski event in North NM this year!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Kermit helps recruit & interview trail users.

Pointing to the new Kermit stickers---Dina Pensonsen, Donna Berg and Stephanie Hagelberg [and Jessica Kiesel, not pictured] spent a good part of today interviewing trail users, recruiting a few new members, plying them with cookies and other goodies.
In spie of the overcast weather and intermittent snow flurries it appears that the majority of trail users today drove up from Albuquerque!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mt. Taylor Quad and wax clinic this Thursday Feb 8th.

This Thursday Feb 8th at 7pm Sportz Outdoor store in Abluquerque is having a Mt. Taylor Quad clinic hosted by store owner and Mt. Taylor Quad veteran Art Gardenswartz. This will be in conjunction with a wax clinic presented by Clay Moseley and sponsored by Fast Wax. Come get tips on the race and on preparing your skis for it!
Get there a little early if you need to do some shopping - the store closes at 7pm right before the clinic!

Classic track being set in pictures.

Here is Clay setting the beautiful classic track you see on the right. This is Dec 31st 2006. Note how old our trusty snowmo (Rambo) is - yes, we are trying to raise some money for a new one! Let us know if you want to help with that!

Santa Fe Backcountry skiers on trail.

These guys probably already gave up on finding the picture I took of them on our trails on Dec 31st 2006. But I thought I'd put it up anyway. They were all happy with the conditions and weather - was a spectactular weekend for xc skiing up here!

Crazy locals loose on trail!!

Here is a couple of crazy local xc skiing fools Shannon and Tay. This was on New Years day - the trails were spectacular! Check out Shannon's classy gaters (is that what they are called?).

I'm bloggin'


Monday, February 5, 2007

Feb 6- EVENING SKI ( both skate and classic)

February 6, the SWNSC will hold an evening ski
on our Pajarito Mtn. trail system. We will meet at the end of the ski hill
parking lot at 5:30pm. Bring along a head lamp as we will be skiing in the
dark. We will plan to ski the upper trails to the meadow and return on the
lower meadow trail (about 1 to 1.25 hours round trip - plenty of short-cut
options if you desire something shorter). The objective here is to hold an
activity to encourage and promote nordic skiing, sort of a parallel to the
Tuff Riders' Tue night Mtn Bike Rides. We will ski at a slow pace - this
is a sociable event, NOT A RACE. If things go over well, we will make it a
weekly event. Tell your friends.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Dina can post now!!!

this is a great moment! I think I can post now. Blame Tarik for all previous unsuccessful attempts... :) Well, I think this will work great, T. Thanks!! oooh, maybe I'll post some pictures... :)