It is early October. It is cyclocross season, and cross-country running season, and, depending on one’s tastes, decorative gourd season or even pumpkin spice season.
If you are a pro skier in this country odds are good that you are in Park City right now, rollerskiing on perfect routes and running on perfect trails beneath a riot of yellow and orange leaves. Presumably the weather is perfect, too. (Yes, I know it was actually rainy there earlier this week, not to mention that fin-de-siècle pro skier Cory Smith did a three-hour on-snow OD on a Park City golf course in September 2000, so fall snow is not out of the picture either. I’m setting the stage here; bear with. me.)
If you are not in Park City, then your current training options likely fall… somewhere within a broad autumnal spectrum. Maybe you are rollerskiing on wet leaves in a cold rain with temperatures in the 30s, wondering why you are doing this and dreaming of your nice indoor SkiErg. Maybe you are bounding up a crisp autumn hillside in light tights and a t-shirt and life is wonderful, not to mention that this moment has ample potential to brighten your Instagram feed. Maybe you are, heroically if quixotically, rollerskiing in Boca Raton, Florida, where the high temp today was forecast to be 89° F. It is fall; this is a time of transition for all of us.
For a small segment of the American nordic ski population, it is also time to get back on snow. I spent a not-insignificant portion of last week looking for Instagrammed or Strava’ed evidence of North Americans on snow on nordic skis in the month of September. And I found… my post about walking up to Hatcher Pass to go break trail through fresh snow for 5 kilometers, and nothing else.
So on the one hand, this post can be read as nothing more than a massive humblebrag: I went skiing in September; everyone look at me; I am so great. On the other hand, I have a years-long record of obsessing over early-season snow; here’s a longer-than-it-should-be piece I wrote for FasterSkier on these topics way back in 2016 (the offhand remark in the intro that Clinton was expected to win the election did not age well), and you don’t pull a 23-year-old reference from Cory Smith’s ur–ski blog if you don’t have a history with these things. Moreover, if my publishing this piece now serves to beat the bushes and bring out someone else’s photos of September skiing, I would truly be thrilled to see that, and will update this post accordingly. DMs are open.
In that spirit, please appreciate some poorly lit photos of skiing (plus a video after the photo gallery): September 22nd, 3,900 feet in the Talkeetna Mountains, roughly six inches of fresh snow, Fischer crown Vasas in all their glory. It isn’t worth while if you can’t.
Shaky handheld portrait mode video? Shaky handheld portrait mode video.
— Gavin Kentch