Cross-country skiers are a unique bunch of people! I spent the day with my second daughter, Claire, at a NH series ski meet in the White Mountains. Gathering such a number of skiers (500 or so) together creates a great, goofy community. We saw a team playing a silly miming game in the middle of the gymnasium with dozens of other teams milling around. Another team celebrated a birthday in the caffeteria with loud singing, a tiny cake and a giant steak knife. (I'm not sure if the knife was intended to use on the cake or the teammates? It didn't look like the kid had decided yet....) The ski outfits range from colorful to... flamboyant. Our own team has holstein print spandex. Everywhere we went, the teams and skiers were full of slapstick humour and a robust sense of fun!
There is something exhilerating about hanging out with a bunch of people who are not afraid of 9 degree weather and a bit of snow. Kids and parents alike donned layers upon layers of outer wear and headed out to enjoy the near-perfect conditions. The kids zipped around gracefully (or wobbled precariously) on their skis. But, graceful or tripping over themselves, skiers don't tend to take themselves too seriously! And, out on the course, bystanders cheer nearly as loudly for the competing teams as for their own teammates. There is a wholesome feeling among skiers.
An unanticipated moment of joy sums the day up for me. Teammates leaving at the same time that we were pulled up beside us. It was a beautiful day and Mt. Washington was in the background. There was a sudden flurry of kids. They hopped out of the two vehicles, jostled each other around in the snow, held skis victoriously in the air, climbed snowbanks and generally hammed it up for a series of impromto team photos. Then the kids grabbed the cameras while the parents joined in the goofiness.