Nome Nordic concludes 17th ski season
By Keith Conger
Nome’s student skiers took full advantage of the warm end of April temperatures as they concluded Nome Nordic’s 17th year of skiing. The program experienced an abundance of success even though all regional and rural state ski meets were canceled due to the pandemic.
“I am so proud of the skiers that continued to come to practice without the promise of travel,” said Rosa (Schmidt) Wright, first-year high school and junior high coach. Wright is a graduate of the Nome Nordic program and was a two-time rural state ski champion.
“We extended practices past when competitions would generally end and were able to catch some really wonderful spring skiing weather. We were able to host some ski races and bring in our community to join in the fun!” continued Wright.
The twelve skiers from Nome Elementary school who braved the cold for two and a half months were rewarded with perfect weather for their grand finale week. Participant consensus was that their favorite day was skijoring with the dogs from Skushpuppy Kennels. The fourth and fifth-grade skiers took turns being pulled behind, and skate skiing with, some speedy dogs.
The elementary program was spearheaded by longtime Nome teachers Leonard Lastine and Ian McRae. For the last day of practice, the pair arranged for a school van and took the entire crew to the Newton Peak parking lot to ski some fairly steep terrain. The young skiers learned to control their speed using the “snowplow” technique in some challenging conditions on Gold Hill earlier in the month.
“The best part of the program was the opportunity to watch kids develop confidence. It happened really fast,” said Lastine. “I think they will all take away an improved image of themselves.”
Nome Nordic is working with Nome Eskimo Community to help further expand the program next year. One of the goals is to get second and third graders on skis. Nome Nordic is also partnering with The Nome Winter Sports Association in hopes of securing funding for a snowmachine to pull their groomer. The aim is to reestablish and maintain ski trails in Dry Creek that all community members could easily access.