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Sliding and Gliding: Locals fare well at Nordeen as avalanches lurk 

The best part of competing in the Great Nordeen Nordic race is the stories and tales formulated before, during, and after the event. Everyone has

click to enlarge Slip Sliding Away
  • Slip Sliding Away
The best part of competing in the Great Nordeen Nordic race is the stories and tales formulated before, during, and after the event. Everyone has a story about how well, or not so well, their wax worked; how the person in front of them augured into the bank going down the first steep twisting downhill; or how they bonked on the last grueling uphill.

Three years ago, as I was getting ready to step up to the starting line just five minutes before the race started, I attempted to attach my pole to the pole strap around my hand. Most straps are attached to the pole and require sticking your hand through the strap before tightening a Velcro strap. I was using a special glove system with a built in plastic piece on my glove that mated with a hole on my pole handle. As I went to insert the plastic piece into the hole, I realized - too late - that the hole was filled with snow and that I'd just rammed the snow down further into the hole. In a bit of a panic as the minutes ticked down, I tried to ram harder until the plastic piece could click into place. This only made matters worse, and now I had a ball of rock-solid ice in the hole. I looked around and happened to see Rod Ray, the president of Bend Research and my boss at the time, standing on the sideline. As I explained my predicament, we both came to the same conclusion. I needed some hot liquid and Rod's coffee was just the ticket. Pouring the hot coffee into the hole melted all the ice away. I inserted the plastic piece and made it to the start line with a minute to spare.

Ask any of the nearly 300 participants in the Great Nordeen race this past weekend about the race and they will undoubtedly have a grand tale to tell. The race is one of a kind. Participants competed in 15 km and 36 km events that began at Sunrise Village of Mt. Bachelor and wound through old growth Hemlock and Ponderosa Pine finishing at Wanoga Snow Park. The start is very spicy, with a wicked fast downhill and many tight curves. The reportedly 'mostly downhill' race has its share of climbing, with three long and sustained ascents.

Saturday's race was packed with high caliber talent. Olympians Lars Flora and Carl Swenson placed first and third overall in the 36 km race, respectively. Local XC Oregon athlete Marshall Greene finished second. In the women's race, XC Oregon athletes claimed the top three spots, with Evelyn Dong, Kristina Strandberg, and Sarah Max taking the top honors.

Greene and Dong used The Great Nordeen as a primer to get ready for their first World Cup races, January 23-26 in Canmore, Alberta. They, along with XC Oregon athlete Zach Violett, qualified to race in Canmore based on results from last year and the first part of this season. Good luck in Canmore, eh.

Avalanche Fatalities Climb

Twenty-four avalanche fatalities have occurred in Western Canada and the U.S. already this season. A highly unstable snow pack has resulted in six deaths in British Columbia, four in Alberta, nine in Washington, three in Utah, one in Colorado, and one in Wyoming. Backcountry enthusiasts have been pounded with snow as of late and deeply rooted instabilities in the snow have caused numerous, large avalanches across North America.

These high fatality numbers serve as a reminder to Central Oregon backcountry users that we are not secluded from the rest of the western U.S. and Canada. Last week a slide at Paulina Peak pushed a skier over some rocks, bruising his thigh and burying both skis. Large crowns and slides seen on Sunday from the summit of Mt. Bachelor show that the massive amounts of recently fallen snow can and will slide (albeit with a bomb trigger). It is easy to get complacent in Central Oregon, as the snow is usually relatively stable, but slides can and do occur. A 50-foot-wide wind slab released from the top of Tumalo Mountain sometime around Saturday morning.

Remember to educate yourself. (Take an avalanche course or read a book.) Thoroughly assess the snow conditions before and during an outing; ask questions. And travel with appropriate gear and a partner.


A group of local cycling advocates and tourism promotion officials, led by the Bend Visitor and Convention Bureau, have joined forces to lure the 2009 and 2010 National Cyclocross Championships to Bend. The Championships are usually held in December, attracting as many as 1,800 competitors, according to a press release from the VCB. The local tourism promotion organization is touting the races as a shoulder season boost to the local tourism economy.

Plus they're muddy and fun.

Of course, cyclocross is nothing new to Bend. Several top cyclocross racers already call the area home, including 2006 National Cyclocross Champion Ryan Trebon. Rumor has there are several potential locations for the race that include the Les Schwab Amphitheater and the area around Summit High School.


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