Category Archives: Cross country skiing

Je Suis Ole

I haven’t been cross-country skiing in almost  thirty years so please forgive any technical oversights in terms of the accuracy of the gear and form employed by the characters in the cartoon (for you nitpickers: you do understand it’s just a cartoon don’t you?)

Back in the day when I lived in Duluth, Minnesota there was usually plenty of x-c skiing to be had during the winter months. There were also lots of Sven and Ole jokes that made the rounds. I’m guessing these days that it’s not PC to make jokes about people from certain ethnicities and so if I’ve offended anyone please accept my apologies in advance. Anyway, I loved the jokes and I liked the skiing.

Those were the days of classic style and preset tracks (or bushwhacking and making your own tracks). If I strap on skinny skis again I’ll take a crack at the skating style, but I do have reservations about how much umph I have left in the old muscles so maybe I’ll default to the old nordic way of locomoting.

In Duluth we lived on London Road snuggled right up to Lake Superior. It was great to go out in the back yard and just look at the lake. If there was snow on the ground and I wanted to ski all I had to do is walk about a block and cross the street to a little park. From there I could ski across a bridge and enter Lester park and be gone for hours. There were groomed trails in the park with varying degrees of difficulty. I didn’t know how good I had it until I left. In fairer weather the park was also a great place to run and hike.

A special treat was to wait for a clear full moonlit night and sneak onto the Lester River Golf course. Small troupes of us would conquer its rolling hills and practice telemark turns and carve our ways to the bottoms.

One year, on a lark, I entered the Duluthloppet. This was a twenty kilometer “race” the course of which I couldn’t begin to tell you. I do remember lots of hills and aid stations that served some kind of warm blueberry drink. It was the longest race of any kind I’d ever done and when I finished I was exhausted out of my mind. I then took a post-race group sauna with other finishers. It was there that someone mentioned I should do the Birkie.

“The Birkie?,” I replied. It turns out they were talking about the Birkebeiner Classic. This was/is the fifty-four kilometer holy grail of American cross-country skiing held annually in Hayward, Wisconsin (the original Birkie is skied in Norway). In my utter state of exhaustion I think I replied something to the  effect of, “Normally I’d say no to doing a race like that but in this case I’m going to say no.”

Add your comments or Sven and Ole jokes at the link above the post.