Anna Iverson, left, and Eva Goerin of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team race during practice at Sandy Beach on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The team, made up of middle and high school students, is finding alternative ways of training without snow as they prepare for their upcoming season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Anna Iverson, left, and Eva Goerin of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team race during practice at Sandy Beach on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The team, made up of middle and high school students, is finding alternative ways of training without snow as they prepare for their upcoming season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Getting by without snow: Nordic team practices on Sandy Beach

It’s like being on sandpaper.

One Nordic ski team isn’t waiting for the snow to come to them.

On Friday, members of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team took to Sandy Beach to work on their skiing form. Over a dozen of the youth spent the afternoon classic skiing down the beach and back.

“It was like skiing on sandpaper,” Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé freshman Koa Doddridge said, “but not 1,000 grit, it was more like a 10-grit sandpaper. You couldn’t glide and it was pretty tough but it was fun. Once you got going, you kept going.”

Annika Schwartz, right, Cecil Wheeler, center, and Nathan Creswell of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team practice at Sandy Beach on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The team, made up of middle and high school students, is finding alternative ways of training without snow as they prepare for their upcoming season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Annika Schwartz, right, Cecil Wheeler, center, and Nathan Creswell of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team practice at Sandy Beach on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The team, made up of middle and high school students, is finding alternative ways of training without snow as they prepare for their upcoming season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The season starts at the beginning of the month, coach Mo Michels said, which sometimes means finding creative ways to train without snow. The team practices every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

“The last few years the snow has come a lot later in the year and our season starts at the very beginning of November, sometimes the end of October and so that’s a long time to go without skiing on snow at all,” Michels said. “While we do a lot of running and running around with our ski poles, there’s some practical application to be out here on Sandy Beach on our skis.”

The youth team formed nine years ago, and this year includes 28 youth from JDHS, Thunder Mountain High School, Juneau Montessori School, Juneau Community Charter School and Floyd Dryden Middle School.

Members of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team practice at Sandy Beach on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The team, made up of middle and high school students, is finding alternative ways of training without snow as they prepare for their upcoming season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Members of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team practice at Sandy Beach on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The team, made up of middle and high school students, is finding alternative ways of training without snow as they prepare for their upcoming season. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

JDHS senior Katie McKenna said Friday was her first time skiing on sand.

“It’s challenging but it’s still similar enough that if you’re a returning skier, you can kind of pull from muscle memory and challenge yourself to work and keep good form,” she said.

JDHS junior Linnea Lentfer said she also found skiing on sand similar to snow.

“It’s definitely harder than snow and different,” she said. “It’s fun just to get out on skis earlier in the season, and it is kind of amazing how much the motions are similar, even those it’s a lot harder and there’s a lot more friction.”

The Nordic team travels to the Palmer area to train with former Olympian Lars Flora at the beginning of next month and will compete in the Classic Classic in Juneau in January.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


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