Nordic Ski Racing: It’s THRILLING!

Author: Katie Spurrell

Thump-thump-thump.  Your heart is pounding and you can hear the sound of every breath you take.  You see the other racers lined up next to you. 

It’s race day! You are at the start line, and you’re feeling both nervous and excited. You’re waiting for the start buzzer; the timer starts counting down– Beep! And you are off; all your nervousness is gone.

Katie on the start line at the 2019 NL Cup 4 races in Gander at Airport Nordic.

You start the race by heading out of the stadium and into the trail; you hear your family, friends, and coaches cheering you on!  You see your teammates and friends beside you. You’re both tired, but tell each other you’re doing great! With every stride your muscles yell for you to stop . . . but you keep going.

Katie racing for the finish line in the stadium at the 2019 NL Cup 4 races in Gander at Airport Nordic.

You tuck on the down hills, going as fast as you can. You lose your balance around a turn but manage to stay upright. You are skiing as fast as you can.  You’re now nearing the end of the race. You start to hear the cheering of the crowd as you enter the stadium. They’re screaming for you to ski hard to the finish line, you don’t leave any energy as you sprint to the finish. You cross the line and fall to the ground from tiredness, but with a big smile on your face. Your family and friends come to take off your poles and skis and get you some oranges and warm Gatorade.  You feel awesome!  

This is what it feels like to do a cross country ski race. I’ve been racing since I was six and have loved every single one. Nothing is better than the sound of the crowd cheering, the wind in your face and the feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line!  It’s invigorating.

Katie is also a Jackrabbit assistant. She loves sharing her passion for skiing with young skiers. Here she is giving out a medal at the annual Cookie Medal Race at Clarenville Nordic in 2019.

There are many amazing things about racing like meeting new friends, visiting different places and ski clubs, staying in hotels with your teammates, and testing the race trails the day before the race! 

Race day is very important and challenging but all the hard work happens long before the competition!  Every Friday and Saturday our team gets together to train. We learn better technique, do speed work, turning drills, and intervals. After lots of intense practice we go back to the chalet and have some tasty food!  Race team practice is always very fun! We do lots of cool things like playing ski games, having boil ups at the huts, skiing in the dark with headlamps, and so much more! Being part of the race team is extremely fun and I definitely encourage any young skier to join!

Katie and her 2020 Clarenville Nordic Ski Team
(with parents of ski team members who are also trying racing in 2020).
L-R: Jocelyn Coates, Jillian Coates, Katie Spurrell, Leah Dalton, Hannah Dalton, Rachel Dalton, Mark Spurrell, Isaiah Dalton, and her dad Michael Spurrell. Missing from Team Photo: Madelyn Munroe, Charlie Cote, and Coach Trevor Coates.

If you are interested in racing but have been too nervous to try, I would definitely encourage you to do it.  Regardless of your skill level or age you will be sure to have a great time. So go wax your skis and sign up!

By: Katie Spurrell (Grade 7 @ Clarenville Middle School)

Clarenville Nordic Ski Club Race Team Member

Gleefully Gliding on a “Blue Evening”

Harry’s Loop

January 22nd, 2020

Welcome to the first post of our new blog, which is titled: Godtur.

For those who have been skiing and snowshoeing with Clarenville Nordic for many years – you will know that this Norwegian word was used by our past president, Corwin Mills, as his closing on many emails, or as a salutation to end a speech – especially one that followed a ski. Google it and see what you find.

As a side note, those who are new to Clarenville Nordic should also be made aware that our facility – the trails, Lee Churchill chalet, and huts – is named after our departed friend – Corwin, as the Corwin Mills Nordic Centre: “Where Everyday is a BEAUTIFUL DAY”.

This evening I found myself losing a race against time, but alas – I was out the door by 10:05 p.m. to squeeze in a ski on Harry’s Loop (named after club member Harry O’Gay), which is our 3.5km lit trail.

I was on a time crunch because the lights turn off at 11 p.m. each night (though I have to admit when I returned to my car at 11:15 tonight – they had not yet turned off? Perhaps Corwin was lending me some light for the rest of my ski). And WHAT a BEAUTIFUL NIGHT IT WAS! The conditions were marvelous with great grip-n-glide. I was in my GLEE!

Check the little video I did to capture some of the great sounds and sights of nordic skiing on a winter’s night like tonight.

Gleefully Gliding on a “Blue Evening” on Harry’s Loop- January 22nd, 2020.
Video: Richard Churchill

As I was gleefully gliding along in the tracks enjoying a classic ski, I found myself reflecting on how lucky I feel to have landed in Clarenville.

This is my 12th winter living in Clarenville; and I must admit that when I look back at the winter of 2009, and the joy I experienced meeting friends at Clarenville Nordic like Corwin, June, Gina, Bill, Pete, Joan, Harold, Harry, Don, Dave, Sylvia, Shirley, and many more friends – they made Clarenville feel like home for me; and it remains so today. MORE than ever. Clarenville Nordic has been an integral part of my decision (and Rebecca’s) to make Clarenville our home. I know from talking to others – this rings true for them too.

On a typical ski tour with many friends at Clarenville Nordic. The ski trail pictured is Bear Pond trail.

You see, the trails, huts, and facilities are one thing, but the camaraderie, memories, fun, and inspiration of active living are what truly makes our club unique.

When you join Clarenville Nordic – it’s like becoming a part of a family – and an AWESOME family it is, which is full of characters! The CNSC family has a history spanning several decades with stories as rich as any you will find on this island. For example, ask one of the first friends I met, who are listed above, about their ski tour to Great Harbour Deep. Or, ask Harry O’Gay about the caribou who made a residence on our trails one winter – he might just have a picture to share with you. Talk to Bill about the Syenite Race that used to draw HUNDREDS of nordic skiers from across the province. Apparently the dance competition at the social later that night was as strong as the skiing competition earlier in the day! We see remnants of that love of dancing at our annual Snowdance!

A friend of mine from back home in Portugal Cove-St. Phillips, Jared Osmond, who now resides here in Clarenville with his wife Rae and their 4 kids, said to me the other day after our Jackrabbit session (which has 73 skiers ranging in age from 3-12) “Richard – did you ever think we’d be so lucky to land here?” We looked at one another – quite aware of the incredible fate that two boys from “the townie bay” would come to call Clarenville home, and I replied: “No b’y – but thank God we did .”

Clarenville is an amazing town to call HOME.

Finally, I leave you with a poem I wrote back in the Fall of 2009 when I was just returning from a ski on a night much like tonight; along with the poem is a screenshot of the email I sent to my friend, Corwin, who I knew would appreciate my poetic dedication to nordic skiing. Tonight I could almost sense his ‘red coat’ skiing alongside me. (Check out Corwin’s Coat in the Lee Churchill Chalet – it is emblematic of his passion for nordic skiing.)

Thinking of the many great chats I had with Corwin.
Richard enjoys a chat with Corwin.

If you are looking for a great winter community to join, please consider joining us at Clarenville Nordic “Where Everyday is a Beautiful Day!” Embrace winter like our friends in Norway!

As Corwin would say; Godtur.

Richard Churchill

P.S. “Blue Evening” is a reference to the magic that is skiing with Swix Blue Wax for grip. It is as good as it gets.

This post is dedicated to my friend, Corwin, who made me feel so welcome during my first winter with Clarenville Nordic in 2009. He became a very good friend and mentor, as did his wife June, over the many years we enjoyed skiing together. Lastly, he taught me the valuable lesson of being welcoming to new members – as he was to me – such that one more person might get to know why he found such joy in winter (as well as all areas of life).

Corwin, in his symbolic red jacket, on the way to Grandfather’s bottom in February 24th, 2013. The beautiful backcountry of Clarenville was Corwin’s happy place. This is the final jacket Corwin skied in, which the Mills family donated to Clarenville Nordic in his memory. It can viewed in our main chalet. Godtur, Corwin.