Monday, November 19, 2007

Snowy Canmore

Training has been great over the last few days despite having only one kilometer of open trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre, site of the 1988 Olympic Nordic and Biathlon races. There has been very little natural snow to date and because of warm temperatures the race organizers have been unable to make much snow. Fortunately for us, the temperature plunged two days ago and at least fifteen snow guns are being used around the clock to blow artificial snow on the trails. I took the picture below from the deck of our house this morning. You can see the venue's location across the valley by the cloud of snow created by the snow-making machines. The process for making snow is pretty simple. In the picture below is a typical machine that is being used to make snow in the biathlon range. Water is forced at high pressure through nozzles that create a fine spray and a giant fan blows the atomized water up in the air where it freezes and becomes snow. In a typical day one of these machines can create a 50 square foot pile of snow that is several feet deep and can then be evened out on the trails. In the second and third photos are machines in use and piles of snow that were made in the last 24 to 36 hours.Shooting with skis on is taking a little getting used to, but it's awesome to finally be on snow. We've been skiing and shooting in the mornings in Canmore and have also taken two afternoon trips to Lake Louise in the Banff National Park to classic ski on a beautifully groomed road that climbs to an alpine lake. On our trip out there yesterday afternoon we chanced to see a black wolf in hot pursuit of a coyote. They were parallelling the highway and the wolf was only inches from dinner. The coyote led the chase onto the road immediately in front of us. I slammed on the breaks and missed both of the animals by just inches. Lucky for the coyote our van made the wolf turn back and, we hoped, gave the poor little guy enough of a lead that it lived to see another day. Talk about survival of the fittest!

It looks like we have a time trial on Friday or Saturday of this week so I'm looking forward to that first test run on snow. I view each time trial as a chance to master techniques on skis and in the range. With this being my first season racing with a rifle, I'm glad to have at least one time trial on snow before the NorAm Cup races on the 1st and 2nd of December.

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