Although the angry hordes of beanie-topped ski bums, ski junkies, and ski snobs were bitching (even more than they normally do) a month or so ago about the somewhat late arriving snow this season, the snow has arrived. With one dump after another coating the mountains and foothills, there's not too much else to crow about.
Well, there's always something to bitch about - wind, lift lines, irreverent Sno-Park etiquette, and my favorite: too much snow - but now there's an excuse for the boarders and skiers of all variety to step down from the "Snow's Never Good Enough" soapbox and get out in the snow. And if these complainers are so skilled that they require the most "epic" of conditions, then it's high time they come out for some good ol' fashioned competition. Whether you're a downhill shredder, a boarder with some sick steez, or a Lycra-clad Nordic buff, there's some fierce competition at your fingertips this weekend in Central Oregon.
For the more cardio-savy of the winter sportsters, Saturday brings the sixth annual Desert Orthopedics Great Nordeen Cross Country Ski Race. But for the gravity lovers and the air-inclined, there's the first installment of this year's Mountain Dew Freestyle Series - featuring both a slope style event as well as a super pipe competition.
The Great Nordeen isn't just another cross-country race; it's actually the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation's largest XC event of the year with more than 300 racers from all ability levels expected to get in on the action.
"It's open to everyone - anyone from excellent skiers who are actually training for another race to people who just started skiing this year - all are welcome to come out," says Sara Salo, Race Coordinator for MBSEF.
The Great Nordeen, which is named after none other than 1930s and '40s Central Oregon ski legend Emil Nordeen (but I'm sure all you XC-ophiles already knew that) now offers both 36km and 15 km freestyle races. Salo says that the longer of the races is known to feature some of Central Oregon's best skiers as they prepare for other events later in the winter, but the 15km event is more suited for beginners as well as those looking for something a bit more low-key.
And after the race you can shed your sweaty gear and check out the post-race banquet.
Now onto the downhill portion of our preview: the Mountain Dew Freestyle Series. Most outdoor athletes know that anything with Mountain Dew attached as a sponsor is going to be marked by big air and a soundtrack of extreme sports slang banter. If you don't get out to either Saturday's Slope Style or Sunday's Super Pipe competitions - you're kinda lazy. But that's OK, because you can hit up the other two editions of the event in late February and mid-March.
The competition features cash prizes, and it isn't just for the gnarliest of shredders; it's open to skiers and snowboarders of all ages. Strap on your helmet (they're required - smartly so) and see if you can back up all the talk.
So, let the bitching cease and the competition begin. Or if that's too much to ask, at the very least, turn your bitching toward the competition.
Great Nordeen Cross County Ski Race
Saturday, Jan. 12. Races begins at Mt. Bachelor Sunrise Lodge. Visit www.greatnordeen.com to register. Pre-registration reguired
Mountain Dew Freestyle Series
Slope Style - Saturday, Jan. 12. Super Pipe - Sunday, Jan. 13. Registration starts at 8am, competition at 11am. Visit Side Effect, Skjeraas, or Powder House to register.