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Story Within the Story: Noquemanon 2002

by Josie Nelson
January 30, 2002

Weekend Warriors do battle at Noquemanon

David and Josie Nelson,
2001 Twin Cities Championships
It had been quite a while since David, (my husband) Grant, (his brother) and I had dreamed up a good ski adventure weekend, so when we heard that the Ski Games were cancelled, we made a last minute decision to make the 7+ hour drive up to Michigan for the Noquemanon 42 km classic. Dave Fast-Waxed my skis for me Thursday evening, and picked me up as soon as my classes were over on Friday. We picked up Grant in Duluth, and as we neared Marquette after 10pm, we watched helplessly as the car thermometer oscillated between 39 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It seemed safe to start with a klister binder, so Dave and I put on an old faithful while Grant tried a new base klister before hopping into bed. Our spirits were much brighter the next morning (even though it was still pitch black at 4:45 am our time) since it had dropped to around 20 degrees overnight. It was also nice to get some fresh air, since our last minute hotel reservations involved a VERY smoky smoking room.

We headed up to the start, which was on a lake due to the conditions. We covered our klister with some hard wax, and were happy to find we had great kick before we took off for our first 6km of double-poling. There were many icy patches that felt pretty abrasive, so I was happy to find that I still had plenty of kick (probably more than I needed) when we got into the woods. I was feeling good, and despite some survival techniques I had to employ to make it down some of the crazy turns, I was really enjoying the race. Regardless of how good I felt, however, I never should have seen either of the Nelson brothers in a point-to-point ski race, so I was alarmed when I recognized Grant’s unmistakable form looming in front of me about 2km from the end. When I got closer, I was relieved to see that he was okay, but dismayed to see that his favorite classic ski wasn’t. When I asked what had happened, all he said was, “Hammer Josie, you’re almost there!”

Grant Nelson,
2001 Governors Cup
After the race, I received the rest of the story from Dave...
Grant was flailing when they got to the hills, since he had apparently sheared off all of his kicker on the lake. After falling up a hill around 10 km, Grant felt some extra drag and realized that his flimsy ptex base was the only reason his left ski was still in one piece. He never even considered packing up at the next aid station, but rather started asking every non-skier he saw, “Duct tape? Does anyone have any duct tape?” After skiing through a station with no luck, he realized he should amend his request to just, “Tape?” at the next aid station. He skied with about a foot and a half of his tip flopping until he finally found a first aid worker who had some athletic tape. Grant made a splint out of a stick and a generous bandage of tape, making his ski “race ready” for the last half of the race. The tape on his base actually seemed to help his kick substantially, but I would have to guess that his glide suffered. Grant came across the finish line a few minutes after me, and I realized that although he loves competition, he was there because he loves to ski. He's always up for a challenge, even if it's not in the form he was expecting.

We all were amazed by the amount of work that went into this event and were thankful to the many volunteers that made the race a reality with such minimal snow. After post-race story swapping with about 100 of our favorite skiers, we made the drive over to the Nelson cabin in northern Minnesota. Dave's parents welcomed us with open arms and a hot sauna. We slept like babies after we had sweated out any tension from the week. We headed over to Giant's Ridge the next day, and were absolutely awed by the conditions. It was actually WINTER there! After skiing some of our favorite trails, surrounded by magical frosty trees, we started making plans for next weekend...

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