On Friday, junior Sam Arneson put on his blue Lycra ski suit, grabbed his ski poles and headed into the cold as he does most days of the week. But instead of gliding off across the snow, the Nordic skier rolled across the pavement on a pair of roller skis.
The feeling is a familiar one this year for Hopkins Nordic skiers. Perhaps no one is dreaming of a white Christmas more than they are. The snow shortage has forced the skiers to make do with alternatives like roller skis, drills on dry land and lots of running.
“I did cross country (running), so it just feels like one long season,” said Allison Schaefer, a senior and team captain.
Coach Rob Fuhr agreed that this year’s lack of snow has been particularly bad. Last week’s rain kept the athletes from even heading to areas, such as , that have man-made snow.
“It’s a scramble for sure,” he said.
The winter hasn’t been completely snowless for the skiers. The varsity team travels regularly to nearby areas where the winter has been a bit whiter—if only because of the man-made snow.
“We’re getting them on snow because our varsity needs to be on snow,” Fuhr said.
Even the junior skiers get the occasional trip—such as a visit 90 of the skiers took to Trollhaugen in Dresser, WI.
But most of the skiers, most of the time must find some alternative.
“We try to make do, I guess, but it’s really rough,” senior Jordan Taylor said.
Roller skis like Arneson’s are one way they do that. But they’re expensive, and not everyone has them. Arneson estimated his pair cost about $200.
And: “There’s no brakes, so it’s kind of scary sometimes,” senior Kim Lidstone said.
The skiers also run, lift weights and do plyometrics, a type of training designed to produce fast, powerful movements. All of that is part of the skiers' normal fitness routine.
Still, they miss the snow.
“We want to ski so bad, and we want to do well, too,” Lidstone said.
Fuhr doesn’t worry the lack of snow will hurt the varsity team’s chances. As noted above, they get ample snow time—and nearly every team in the state faces the same challenge.
But he conceded that it’s harder to coach the fundamentals and get new skiers really good at the sport. Some of the skiers also have lost interest and dropped out because of the bad weather.
While the bulk of the team is still hanging tough, all the skiers agree that they can’t wait to have the white stuff start falling again.
“It’s really a pain to not have snow,” Taylor said.