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.


More in Sports

A total of 145 boys from 10 Southeast Alaska high schools dash out from the starting line at the Capital City Invite at A Káx Yaa Andagan Yé (Sandy Beach) on Saturday morning. The 5K race for boys’ and girls’ teams was the region’s largest cross-country race of the season, and final regular season competition before the regional championship in Sitka this weekend. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Many merry after massive muddy meet

Juneau’s cross-country runners and coaches in sunny spirits about chances going into championships

TMHS’ Ashlyn Gates and JDHS’ Mila Hargrave both reach for the ball during the second set of a cross-town volleyball match held at JDHS on Friday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
TMHS wins two cross-town matches

TMHS wins two cross-town matches

A Lucas White (21) block buys Jarrell Williams (1) more room to work during a 49-32 win against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau cooks up a conference title

Huskies are back-to-back Cook Inlet Conference champs after lopsided win.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
From left to right, Liz Perry, president and CEO of Travel Juneau; SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium project manager Sierra Gadaire; High Cadence Triathlon team coach Jamie Bursell; and City and Borough of Juneau Finance Director Jeff Rogers met at Juneau Moose Family Center on Thursday afternoon to share a recap of the Ironman Alaska to a full crowd of members of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce who joined in at the luncheon.
2023 vision: Officials look at the future of Ironman Alaska

They reviewed what went well and what could change for next time.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Two-time national champion and Olympic bronze medalist Gracie Gold talks with the Juneau Empire ahead of her upcoming free speech at Juneau-Douglas High School on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.
Olympian takes time to talk mental health

Bronze medalist, 2-time champ to speak Saturday.

Jarrell Williams (1) and Thomas Baxter (84) celebrate a big play on defense early in Juneau's win over the visiting West Valley Rams. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Huskies get the Rams’ goat under Friday night lights

Juneau remains undefeated on the season.

Most Read