I look out the window and snow is falling, dancing in the front spotlight. They are saying up to a foot between now and tomorrow morning, and that really changes everything. It's very possible that that foot will not go away until sometime in late-April, and that means there will be an opportunity to ski each and every day from our front door.
Suddenly skiing is a daily occurrence. Dog walks become backcountry skis. The mountains on all sides open up, nordic trails here, little pockets of turns there, adventure everywhere, white capped mountains, wind plumes ripping off the divide, rosy, cold cheeks. It's so beautiful, it's almost too much to take in, it overwhelms the senses.
Tonight was an exciting night, as we placed our order for wax for the season. It's something I've been doing since I was in high school, and it's part of the ritual of preparation for the winter to come.
I have a story tonight. When I was a kid, living in Oslo, the U.S. Ski Team stayed at our house. As you might imagine, it made an impression on me. The year was 1982, and the World Nordic Ski Championships were being held at Holmenkollen in Oslo. This was not an uneventful World Championships, as U.S. skier Bill Koch introduced the skating technique to the world stage and proceeded to win a silver medal in the 30 km, an unprecedented achievement for an American in a sport utterly dominated by Norwegians, Swedes, Soviets and Finns. It shocked the Norwegians, and I took a little pride in being an American living there when it happened. He actually changed the sport for good at this race and introduced a technique that is a major player in today's nordic ski world.
Bill Koch did not stay at our house. But the U.S. Women's Nordic Ski Team did. My dad was the U.S. Army Attache in Oslo, and as such was the primary U.S. Army representative in Norway. A big part of the job included entertaining foreign diplomats, so we had a house of a decent size, paid for by Uncle Sam. And on this occasion, the diplomats were replaced with athletes, and the U.S. Ski Team were the honorable guests.
I was really young. But I remember. Our basement was turned into a wax room. This was before the time of massive national team waxing semi-trucks. I don't even think the U.S. women had a wax technician in 1982. Nordic ski racing – especially women's – was tiny in 1982. But the athletes were there, and they were way cooler than any technician. They entertained my child questions, showed me the process of waxing skis, and I took it all in.
A cool experience. Skiing has given me a lot over the years. Lots of memories, lots of sense of achievement, lots of pain, but a lot more joy. I feel so blessed to be able to do it again this year.
Another winter begins tonight.