Ready for skiing_Staats-2We awoke yesterday morning to a fresh coating of snow – about four plus inches.  And while it was still snowing, the forecast was for quickly clearing skies.  I bundled up and headed over to Como Park.  Arriving before dawn, there was already activity all around.  The skiers were out on the golf course enjoying the open spaces, and the groomer was methodically going around the course near the ski hill laying the tracks.  As the sun made its way above the low-lying clouds, it caused the shadows to pick up the patterns of the track – line after line after line.  Just a few minutes after I made this photo, a group of skiers swooshed past me and down the hill, smiling and chatting and commenting how lucky they were to have such a glorious morning to be out and about.

birkie-start-38278_staatsThe largest cross-country ski race in North America was held this past Saturday – the American Birkebeiner (affectionately known as The Birkie, the Boston Marathon of Skiing).  A total of 7,461 skiers registered for the various races including the 50K Birkie Skate, 54K Birkie Classic, 23K Kortelopet, and the Prince Haakon 8K.  With skiers from over 20 foreign countries and close to all 50 United States it is truly a festive event. This photo is from the race start in Cable, Wisconsin at the Telemark Resort.  The course runs through the hills and forests of the area,  and ends on Main Street in Hayward.  Saturday was a great day for skiing (and for spectating — which is what I did).  Temps were in the teens, with a light snow falling.  We went to the start line to witness all the excitement and fun that precedes an event like this, then we made our way to Hayward and the finish line.  Main Street is closed to traffic, snow is brought in to cover the street, and spectators line the course ringing bells and cheering on the skiers.    My congrats to all the participants — I admire their training, their commitment, and their love of the sport; and to the volunteers and spectators who know how to celebrate and enjoy a beautiful winter day in central Wisconsin!   For more information, check out  www.birkie.com

luminaries-at-batb-0127_staatsValentine’s Day on frozen Lake Superior — what a great way to celebrate a winter’s evening!  Chequamegon Bay is at the southwest corner of Lake Superior, surrounded by the towns of Ashland and Washburn, Wisconsin.  For the past 13 years the residents of the area come together to celebrate the cold of winter with a ski and snowshoe race across the frozen bay — the Book across the Bay.  This event is unique in that it begins at 6:30pm, and the course is lit by hundreds of frozen luminaries marking the route along the ice.  The event draws over 2,000 participants skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking.  This year’s route was changed at the last minute because of four days of warm temperatures and a big thaw.  The snow that had covered the frozen lake became liquid, then froze again into a huge sheet of ice.  The race organizers changed the course to a loop and spent hours “churning” the ice to lay a path that provided some traction for skiers and walkers.  Their hard work paid off and it was a beautiful event, accompanied by light snowflakes.  After crossing the finish line there was a huge bonfire to warm up at and a post-race party in a giant heated tent.  Hay was scattered on the frozen ground and hay bales were stacked around the perimeter.   Everyone was treated to a  hot chili feed, delicious local beer, and dancing to a great live band.  It’s a party of the best kind, and a delightful way to enjoy and appreciate our winter weather and scenery.