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Summit Nordic skiers find renewed solace in sport amid pandemic

Summit Nordic Ski Club athletes roller ski during training this summer.
Photo by Elaine Collins

FRISCO — Summit Nordic Ski Club head coach Olof Hedberg said the novel coronavirus stay-at-home order provided the club’s young athletes a time of reflection.

“They had time to realize what they like in life, what they are passionate about in life,” Hedberg  said. “We all do a bunch of different things. We have to do a lot of different things in life. But there’s time we are isolated and basically get a clean slate of what’s important and what’s not.”

As practices have resumed over the past month and a half for the club, Hedberg said he’s seen a much higher level of commitment and focus from athletes. Each week, up to 30 young skiers have met up for outdoor training, including roller skiing on the recpath, with a renewed appreciation for the sport.

“I see 98% of them come in and just want to work out every day, want to be better,” Hedberg said. “They are improving faster than ever before because they realize skiing is something that is important to them.

“These are terrible, tough times, but there’s definitely silver linings in these things,” Hedberg continued.

As of midsummer, Hedberg said there’s still much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming Nordic ski season. Within the past two weeks, he’s joined phone and video calls with national and regional ski organizations to listen in on the latest developments. Though the calendar is still far from set, Hedberg said he think there will be some form of racing. But can that be virtual competition similar to how mountain biking has resumed this summer? Hedberg said with the nature of how winter weather can affect Nordic skiing, that might not be an option.

“If we look, currently, mountain bike races in Eagle County are allowed to be hosted as mass starts, but Pitkin County is individual start, and Summit is virtual,” Hedberg said. “We see this wide range of events hosted. How it will play out for skiing, unfortunately, it is too early to say.”

Through the summer, Summit Nordic has suspended all indoor activities, such as training on the roller-ski treadmill at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. Coaches also have shared video strength and conditioning workouts and schedules for athletes to do at home rather than with the team. When the team has met up in person, Hedberg and other coaches have asked groups to arrive staggered by 10 minute intervals. When at the practice site, Hedberg and coaches check temperatures before debriefing athletes on the day’s instruction and protocol before groups of eight or fewer embark for the session’s training.

“I see a team that is more motivated, more driven and more focused than basically ever before,” Hedberg said.


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