by J.D. Downing
As the 2015/16 season goes in the books, there's a bunch of Masters items large and small on my list to cover, so here goes on a grab-bag of them.
Snow and Weather - Our Shared Concern
I've written and talked about it time and again in the past decade. Climate change is a clear and present danger to the competitive end of our sport. As of 2016, that danger is at the critical stage.
It is just not realistic to think that a number of ski events across the Northern Hemisphere can continue when, nearly every year, wide swaths of the cross-country-ski world are suffering from poor-to-horrid snow conditions.
Already we are seeing the effects in the form of a weakening ski industry, clear declines in the number of motivated Masters and a reduction in the number of local races – all trends that are worldwide.
We all know that solutions encompass much more than the cross-country-ski world. But one thing we can do annually is to take proactive steps to make our sport more resilient before the coming years and decades force our hand. What can you do this off-season to make a difference?
Going To Pump You Up Guys
Given the many hats I wear with the World Masters Association, I see many award ceremonies at the Masters World Cup every year. Recently, I've begun to pay attention to an amazingly consistent physical feature of men of nearly all ages who stand atop the medal podium.
One physical characteristic that at least the male Masters World Cup medalists nearly universally share is a visibly prominent musculature in the upper arms, specifically, large biceps and visible muscular definition throughout the shoulders.
While not scientific, it jives with what researchers and coaches worldwide have been saying for years about upper-body power making all the difference.
Very notably, you don't see the same visual difference with women, and I'm still working on some potential reasons why.
Cross-country Fluoro Waxing - What We Leave Behind
Most skiers are aware of the dangers associated with speedy powders, blocks and/or liquid fluoro waxes and use a mask or work in a well-ventilated location.
Yet recent research consistently shows that cross-country fluoro waxing leaves traces on the snow long after we've completed our racing.
While the fumes during the process dissipate quickly they don't magically “disappear” once into the global atmosphere. The particles left behind by fluoros are also a significant problem. We can sweep up a waxing location all we want, but some fluoro dust is always going to remain somewhere.
Research is finding residue from fluoros in the soil where we ski. Thousands of loppet skiers can leave behind a noticeable amount of fluoro in the snow, which eventually melts, taking the by-products into the soil. If it's in the soil, it's simply a matter of time before it's in the water table and surrounding plant matter, then onto animal life and, ultimately, all of us.
I admit that I'm still trying to work it out in my head what our next move should be as a sport. But I do know that, as with climate resiliency, Masters have to step up to the plate and act.
Get Your Masters Cross-country Information Year-round!
Here's yet another reminder that the best source of cross-country-ski information for Master skiers is via membership in American XC Skiers (AXCS). The acclaimed AXCS Spring and Summer Digest issues will be coming to members this off-season, filled with exclusive content from around the cross-country-ski world. With both U.S. and international membership packages, there's something for every Master at a low cost.
Sign up today online at xcskiworld.com!