Nordic community keeps youth programs thriving
By Emily Benson

Anyone who loves recreating in the outdoors this winter has been faced with some of the most challenging weather conditions in years. As the President of the NH Nordic Coaches Association (NHNCA), a non-profit, all volunteer organization, my mission is to advance the development of middle and high school Nordic skiers through education and support of competitive racing programs in NH. Our vision is to ensure that the sport of Nordic skiing is accessible and affordable for all of our state’s teenagers. 

Nordic skiing has been recognized as one of the healthiest and low-impact sports available, with the added benefit of taking place in the outdoor environment. The NHNCA coordinates two major all state races, attracting nearly 850 middle and high school skiers from public and private schools as well as ski clubs. We also support a middle school championship race, providing a unique opportunity for all NH middle school skiers to come together for a day of friendly, competitive racing.

These three events alone, in addition to the regular season races that occur from mid-December until mid-February, were challenging to run safely and effectively this year, to say the least!  Finding appropriate race venues to accommodate over 800 skiers and their fans is always a challenge. Recent weather trends have forced our Nordic community to become adaptable and creative.  NH Nordic centers have been extremely supportive of our events and willing to accommodate a race under variable conditions under short notice. Dates and race venues are subject to frequent changes.  

Our race courses are often shorter with skiers having to complete multiple laps. Machine-made snow and creative snow management is an increasingly necessary component of a Nordic center’s operations. Without piping, techniques that have been used include bringing piles of snow out onto the trails via dump trucks or even manure spreaders.

For many events, volunteers (especially valued are the families in the excavation business!) will clear parking lots and shovel snow across playing fields to ensure adequate trail coverage. With hard work, adaptability and creativity, we will continue to celebrate and promote the Nordic ski culture in NH in this time of climate change!