News & Stories
Anwatin Season Overview
By Allie Rykken
Every year I wonder what will happen to the team when half of our skiers go off to high school and every year I am delighted to have such wonderful new skiers join us! This year was no exception. We had a strong contingency of captains and returning leaders, from our captains Emily, Doua, Charlie and Katy, to our returning 8th graders Tome and Henri and Pheng who were ready to set the tone of the team – working hard to become faster, more competitive skiers, befriending new teammates and showing them the ropes, and being role models for how to be a team that loves what they do and are eager to come to practice each day.
The winter season started out at the end of our Adventure Running Series and continued on into the late fall with the Apple Run, the Loppet Games, exploring the mountain bike trails, running hill repeats in the woods, rollerskiing along the bike paths as the days grew shorter and shorter. In early December we got our first sprinkling of snow and we jumped in! After a week or so the snow retreated and we charged on with more endurance building on-foot and on rollerskis and wrapped up the December season with a scavenger hunt, bonfire and candy cane hunt in the dark.
Over Christmas break, we ran in the rain at Lebanon Hills with the Minnehaha Nordic kids, went to Loppet Ski Camp where we lucked out again with a big dump of snow just days prior, and at the end of the break, ventured into Wisconsin with a group of girls from the Franklin team for our Girls Only weekend trip. We were spoiled with perfect trails at the Tower Ridge Ski Trails and made big improvements, and then enjoyed some old-fashioned back-country skiing through the woods near camp the next day.
From there our luck with snow continued and we skied our way into late January when we journeyed up to Giant’s Ridge Ski Trails near Biwabik, MN for our winter team weekend trip. We stayed at Camp Warren and enjoyed their lake ski trails, broomball court, sauna, and even their unique Finnish spinning sled device whose name I can’t remember. We even grew to love the fire alarm that went off every 10 minutes anytime you used the oven or stove. The Ski Trails are Giant’s Ridge are no joke and we logged some impressive k that weekend, and on Sunday alone we skied 22+ km in one shot!
We dove back in when we returned with the Farview Sprints, which we did very well at, despite the slow, soggy snow and difficult course. The next weekend we skied to Uptown from the Wirth Chalet and the answer is yes, of course we would ski 16k just for a Chipotle burrito.
Unfortunately the snow didn’t last quite as long as we wanted it to, but we held on strong through a dry late February with dryland workouts, and pulled out some impressive racing at the Midwest Junior Championships the first weekend in March. Most kids who race the MJC do 2, maybe 3 races that weekend. We race all six races. We worked hard… really hard.
The following week, we scraped the very last dirty snow of the man-made loop together and skied a very close match of SkiBall against the Franklin team, and though we had a stacked team, our B Team’s win actually made it possible to move on to the Final Round, and it was there that we won by 1 single point in overtime. I now understand how coaches of team like basketball or soccer can get a little over the top, because I was doing my best to refrain jumping up and down as we rounded into overtime at a tie game.
Of course numbers and places are fun to look at, particularly when you know they were well-deserved after lots and lots of hard work, but this year I’m most excited about the level of improvement our team has made, from last year to this year and even from the beginning of the season to the end. Emily is my favorite example of this, and I still have a clear image of this tiny 6th grade girl who was well off the back of the pack during the ski season and who I worried about biking because I wasn’t sure how well her skinny arms could control the handlebars. Tome is another fun example, because I have another clear visual of Tome refusing to use the brakes during bike season and dragging his feet along the ground to slow down, or simply walking down any small hill that he came across. In the winter, I’m almost certain he double poled or herringboned the whole season. And then there are skiers like Peter and Isabella who just started this season and put their heads down and just figured it out, with a little help from their friends, and turned into very respectable skiers by the end of the season.
I’d like to end my season overview with a quote from an email I received from a mom who has been at a number of races over the season and witnessed our ski team from the outside.
“I wanted to let you know how impressed our family is with the Anwatin Ski Team. They are truly a terrific group of kids. They are fun, charming, polite, embody sportsmanship, and clearly LOVE skiing.”