Transnational Olympian Identities

The Original Idea:

Is that individuals represent their country and respect the practice of sport through competition. Remarkable Olympians are held up as exemplars of both the culture of the sport and of the nation they represent. Crossing the boundaries of one or the other can produce curiosity (the Jamaican bobsled team) and controversy (the cross-country team representing Dominica in 2014).

Controversy:

Back in 2014, some noise was made about a couple representing the Caribbean island nation of Dominica in cross-country skiing, in part because they had no native ties. Some may have felt they gamed a system based on competition between nations. Others probably dismissed as having disrespect for the Olympic ideal.

diSilvestris
Cross country skiers representing Dominica in 2014

Skiers From Everywhere:

In the 2018 Olympics, being from somewhere else is beyond being a curiosity. Transnational marriage, immigration, and displacement are having an impact on the native origins of athletes. In the cross-country ski events along, we have several ‘multinational individuals’, people who have citizenship of the countries they represent, yet spent much of their lives elsewhere. In some cases, they might not be competing had they been raised in their country of birth.

You don’t have to be a nativist to wonder what it will mean to be from somewhere in the future. At the same time, occurrences like these help surface a form of conditional acceptance on a world stage. Overall I think the stories behind people coming from an unusual place are good for the sport and it refreshes my perspective.

Let’s take a look at some.

Multinational Cross-country Skiers:

This is an easy one- first, Magnus Kim is a really good, really young ski racer. Second, he’s competing for the host nation of South Korea. Kim has Korean citizenship by way of his mother and apparently spent a lot of time skiing in Norway, his father’s country of birth. Read more in a press release by Yonhap News Agency.

South Korean cross country skier
Cross country skier representing South Korea (KOR)

Next, Karen and Mark Chanloung, who hold dual Italian and Thai citizenship, and will compete for Thailand in these Olympics.

Thai cross country skiers
Cross country skiers representing Thailand

Then there’s Tongan Pita Taufatofua. Born in Australia and raised in Tonga, he shifted sports to learn cross-country skiing. He’s obviously had an adventure in the switch. His opening ceremony outfit was, well beefcake.

Tongan cross country skier
Cross country skier representing Tonga

And there’s the lone cross-country ski competitor for a sub-Saharan African nation, Mathilde-Amivi Pettijean. Pettijean was raised in France but represents her native Togo. Growing up in a small city with a view of Mont Blanc explains her lifelong familiarity with snow. For more there’s a short Q & A in the Fasterskier website.

Togo cross country skier
Cross country skier representing Togo

The prize for global ski citizen goes to Kequyen Lam, who represents Portugal by way of Vietnam, Macao, and Canada. His grandparents came to Vietnam from China but his family became displaced and broken up by the Indochina wars and their aftermath. Kequyen was born in Macao while it was a colony of Portugal (which I presume allowed him to claim Portuguese citizenship) and then raised in Canada by his grandparents who had settled there after leaving Vietnam. Here’s a profile of Kequyen Lam, also from Fasterskier.

Portuguese cross country skier
Cross country skier representing Portugal

The Back of the Pack (bless ’em all)

Outside the spotlight of the ‘human drama of athletic competition’ at the Olympics are athletes without an interesting origin story to make them noticeable. So far outside the spotlight are they that most of us may not even know their countries are represented. Not so long ago, that was the case for the US in the cross-country ski events. To get better, you just have to start somewhere with someone.

So, with apologies to the parts of Europe where cross-country skiing is more popular or at least better-known, here’s to the ones at the back of the pack. Below is a list of lesser-known skiing nations and their Olympic cross-country skiing athletes for 2018. The chances for any of them to win a medal (Magnus Kim a possible exception) are effectively zero, but I salute them for going all-in despite the odds.

North Korea (PRK):

South Korea (KOR):

Japan:

China:

Mongolia:

Pakistan:

India:

Thailand:

Greece:

Turkey:

Portugal:

  • KEQUYEN LAM (Macao-born to Vietnamese parents of Chinese descent)

Spain:

Bermuda:

Argentina:

Chile:

Bolivia:

Brazil:

Colombia:

Ecuador:

Mexico:

Togo:

Lebanon:

Iran:

Morocco:

Tonga:

Australia:

Winter is where you find it

Sometimes it waits for you just long enough…

Birch tree
Birch tree above frozen lake in winter

…But you have to go get it before the rains come, as they did on Saturday.

Minnewaska was beautiful that morning, with fresh wet snow from earlier in the week, the kind of snow you see often in British Columbia or at Mount Bachelor in Oregon.

Ski race Saturday, clinic Sunday

The Shawangunk Nordic Ski Association is holding a cross-country ski race at Minnewaska State Park Preserve Saturday Feb. 10, and a clinic for people who want to know more about the sport at Mohonk Mountain House on Sunday Feb. 11.

New Paltz is about 2 hours from NYC, an easy drive, and the views over the Hudson plain from the Gunks are spectacular.

See the SNSA web page for a bit of information about the group, and their Facebook page for more details.

Galoshes and crampons in NYC, VT beautiful as usual

People looking at Prospect Mtn ski slope
Stunned humans gaze at frozen white stuff from the sky (Prospect Mtn Ski center photo)

Summary:

(updated Friday Feb 9) New York winter- the classic snow/sleet/rain that freezes overnight. Fantastic.

But there’s skiing within a 2-hour drive and conditions should be nice at least through Saturday, despite warming temps. Meanwhile, envy the Vermonters and Osceola, who got all the nice stuff from the sky.

State of the touring centers

Day trip range*:

Fahnestock Winter Park, Carmel NY
1 hr 15′ drive (mid-Hudson region)
2/8/18 report
Closed for skiing- didn’t get enough snow

High Point Cross Country Ski Center, Sussex NJ
1-1/2 hr drive (NW NJ)
2/8/18 report
3″ received last 24 hrs
12 KM open

Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz NY
2-1/2 hr drive (mid-Hudson region)
2/9/18 report
[from their website] “Skiing surface is a mix of granular, frozen granular,and ice Groomers have chopped up and set track on most trails Use caution in turns and on hills.”

Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Kerhonkson NY
2-1/2 hr drive (mid-Hudson area)
No report  yet, but proximity to Mohonk indicates probability of similar conditions.

Mountain Trails Cross Country Ski Center, Tannersville NY
3 hr drive (Catskills)
2/9/18 report
[from their website] ” The trails will be open this weekend, February 10th and 11th, for skiing and snowshoeing. Please check back for updates. Please check our ski conditions or email us for more information.”

Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, Petersburg NY
3 hr drive (Troy region)
2/9/18 report
Base 6 – 7″
34 KM open
25 KM trackset
15 KM skate

Canterbury Farm Nordic Center, Becket MA
3 hr drive (western MA I-90 corridor)
2/9/18 report
Base 3 – 8″
[from their website] “Open for skiing with grooming and track set this morning. Excellent conditions, 100 % open.”

Early start day trip, or a 36-hour getaway*:

Prospect Mountain, Woodford VT
3-1/2 hr drive (southern VT)
2/8/18 report
9 – 12″ received last 24 hrs
Base 18+”
Packed powder

Weston Ski Track, Weston MA
3-1/2 hr drive (Boston area)
2/8/18 report
2 KM open

Northfield Mountain Cross Country Ski Area, Northfield MA
3-1/2 hr drive (Berkshires, northwestern MA)
2/8/18 report
[from their website] “We received 4″ of snow during Wednesday’s storm before the precipitation changed to sleet/ freezing drizzle which created a thin crust on the top. Temperatures dropped overnight so we can begin grooming this morning. With no base prior to the storm we will plan to open the front field loops, Fuller’s pasture, Rattlebone and Angel’s Roost trails on Friday.”

Stump Sprouts Ski Touring and Guest Lodge, Charlemont MA
3-1/2 hr drive (Berkshires, off Rt 2)
2/7/18 report
[from their website] “6-8 ” of new snow. The plan is to groom and be open on Saturday for both day visitors and lodge guests. “

Brattleboro Outing Club, Brattleboro VT
3-1/2 hr drive (southern VT)
2/5/18 report
Base 0 – 6″
17 KM open

If you can stay a night or two*:

Gore Mountain Nordic Center, Johnsburg NY
4 hr drive (southern Adirondacks)
2/8/18 report
Base 6 – 18″
4 KM  Classic
5 KM  Skating

Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, Northville NY
4 hr drive (Albany region)
2/8/18 report
10″ received last 24 hrs
Base 18 – 24″
47 KM  Classic
47 KM  Skating

Maple Corner Farm, Blandford MA
4 hr drive (southwestern MA I-90 corridor)
No current report

Notchview Reservation, Windsor MA
4 hr drive (Berkshires, Rt 9 corridor)
2/8/18 report
[from their website] “We got a heavy 4″ of snow from yesterday’s event. A little sleet and brief freezing rain mixed in. The result is a more durable snow than we have had. We will be open by late morning with a packed powder surface.”

Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center, Grafton VT
4 hr drive (southern VT)
2/8/18 report
8″ received last 24 hrs
Base 18″
11 KM Open

Timber Creek Cross Country Ski Center, West Dover VT
4 hr drive (southern VT)
2/5/18 report
10″ received last 24 hrs
Base 8 – 16″
All trails open

Viking Nordic Center, Londonderry VT
4 hr drive (southern VT)
2/8/18 report
6″ – 10″ Past 24 Hours
Base 8 – 10″, Powder – Packed Powder
31 KM Classic
22 KM Skating

Garnet Hill Lodge XC Ski Center, North River NY
4-1/2 hr drive (southern Adirondacks)
2/8/18 report
11″ Past 24 Hours
Base 12 – 18″
55 KM Classic
25 KM Skating

Okemo Valley Nordic Center, Okemo VT
4-1/2 hr drive (central VT)
2/6/18 report
Base 15 – 15″
18 KM Classic
18 KM Skating

Wild Wings Ski Touring Center, Peru VT
4-1/2 hr drive (southern VT)
2/8/18 report
9″ Past 24 Hours
Base 18 – 26″
24 KM Classic

Cascade Cross Country Center, Lake Placid NY
5 hr drive (High Peaks region)
2/7/18 report
Base 5 – 6″ , loose granular
15 KM Classic
5 KM Skating

Olympic Sports Complex at Mt Van Hoevenberg, Lake Placid NY
5 hr drive (High Peaks region)
2/8/18 report
8″ Past 24 Hours
Base 4 – 14″, Packed Powder – Hard Pack
50 KM Classic
50 KM Skating

Osceola Tug Hill Cross Country Ski Center, NY
5 hr drive (northern NY)
2/9/18 report
[from their website] “10 degrees and just a few small flakes in the air. 1 inch dry powder overnight and 1-3 inches in the forecast for today. Saturday 33 with periods of snow with 1-3 inch in the forecast. Sunday 34 and cloudy… [trails are] on the soft side for skating… classic is the better technique today.  Packed powder snow on a 16 inch plus base.”
40 KM Classic
40 KM Skating

Mountaintop Inn & Resort, Chittenden VT
5 hr drive (central VT)
2/8/18 report
12″ Past 24 Hours
Base 6 – 24″, Machine Groomed – Packed Powder
57 KM Classic
40 KM Skating

Rikert Nordic Center, Ripton VT
5 hr drive (central VT)
2/8/18 report
Base 12″
42 KM Open
10 KM Groomed
10 KM Trackset

(* All drive time estimates based on leaving uptown Manhattan. Current conditions reports from snocountry.com, trailhub.org, ski area website reports, and some general detective work)

The infographic:

NWS snow depth NE US
Snow depth Feb 8 2018

Snow depth as of Thursday (above); forecast calls for some light snow/wintry mix Friday evening as far south as the mid-Hudson valley, and east to the Berkshires:

NWS snowfall forecast for Feb 9 2018
Snowfall forecast for Friday Feb 9 2018

Monday February 5: advance bets for the week

Summary

Although the metro NYC area is still lacking, there’s skiing in them hills! Prospect Mountain is the closest, followed by Brattleboro Outing Club. Everything north of that in NY and VT is open. Oscela, the usual champ in snowfall got beaten this weekend by Wild Wings which got 13″ of new snow.

Temps in the northeast will be falling through the week before turning upward again for Saturday and Sunday. A storm coming from the west could bring snowfall to the southern Adirondacks and southern VT on Wednesday. See the infographic at bottom of this post.

Continue reading “Monday February 5: advance bets for the week”

What does the NYTimes have against cross-country skiing?

kirk-douglas-the-heroes-of-telemark

The Article

Every four years it’s the same thing- people notice that there’s a set of Nordic sports (cross-country skiing, Biathlon, Nordic combined, ski jumping) and the intense focus and discipline required. The result is the usual spate of pieces about how much work it is, how demanding cross-country skiing and biathlon are, and how watching them is the sporting equivalent of watching paint dry.

But this article: “What Cross-CountrySkiing Reveals About theHuman Condition” by Sam Anderson, put me over the edge.

Continue reading “What does the NYTimes have against cross-country skiing?”

Wednesday January 31 ski conditions

Summary

Daytime temps will be above freezing throughout much of the Northeast on Thursday before dropping to the 20’s and even teens on Friday and Saturday. The groomers will have to make a granular surface out of the refrozen snow they have. There’s no major snowstorms in the forecast, but even a bit of white stuff can help refresh the base and make the skiing a bit more pleasant.

Osceola is looking to be in pretty good shape, while Lapland Lake, Garnet Hill, and Cascade in NY, and Grafton Trails, Okemo, and Wild Wings in VT are soldiering on with at least 10k open as of midweek.

Continue reading “Wednesday January 31 ski conditions”