Lapland Lake Ski Center: a Day in the Woods

This is the sort of winter that can make a metro NYC skier feel like an outsider looking in.

On Saturday morning, I should have been stressing about kick wax and hydrating for the Lake Placid Loppet.  With this year’s crazy weather, the Loppet is postponed until 10 March.  At present, I have my doubts whether the race will actually happen.

With the Loppet postponed, I went into panic mode, looking for a way to salvage the weekend.   Northern VT, NH and Maine generally seem to have better conditions than southern VT and New York.  I considered heading to Trapp Family Lodge.    But I couldn’t quite see my way to drive to Stowe for only two days.  Then I remembered the Art Roscoe race in western NY.  But it too was postponed. (Too bad it often conflicts with the Loppet; one day I want to ski that.)  Then Saturday became a day to do errands and chores.  That left one day to get out on snow.

Over the phone, they had advised okay coverage and fast klister conditions.  So for the first time in 10 or 12 years, I made a dawn run to Lapland Lake ski center.

An added bonus was meeting up with Andrey Revyakin, who recently moved back east from California.  We agreed to meet at Lapland.

Arriving at Lapland at 8:45, the temperature was in the single digits.  Toasty.  I opted to skate, as that is Andrey’s preferred technique.  I set out first on Joki Latu.  The frozen granular snow was wicked fast, just great for this being only my second day skating.  I did one tour around the west side trail system, reacquainting myself with trails I skied often many years ago, returning just as Andrey arrived.  He kitted up, and off we went.

Reprising my initial foray, we wended around Joki Latu and shot downhill over a bridge onto Sisu.  Foregoing the map, we went all the way around Sisu and Karhu Polku, checking everything out.  With this winter’s wild temperature swings, Lapland had a compacted, three-inch base of wicked fast frozen granular.  It had been freshly groomed earlier in the morning.  There were only three or four exposed rocks, but there were several dirty spots.  Considering that many southern VT and New York ski areas are closed, I’ll take it.

Returning to the lodge, one of the hard downhills ate me up and I landed hard on my hip.  While the fast snow made for easy skiing on the flats, we had to pay attention on the meandering downhills.  Here’s Andrey, skiing up a section of Kippis:

As he’d been living out west for several years, Andrey and I hadn’t skied together recently.  Today, I had a hard time keeping up with him, and he wasn’t trying to go hard.  Modestly, Andrey attributed it to fast skis, and in part that may be true.  In a straight line test, his old boards were faster than my old boards.

But skiing with him, I remembered how fluid and graceful he is – it’s like he was born with skis on his feet.  His technique was so smooth.  With a couple of steps, he gracefully negotiated the downhill bits that gave me conniptions, including one corner that got me twice.  Your editor, thankfully not falling:

Lapland’s trails don’t have the sustained, lung-busting climbs of Mount van Hoevenberg, Mount Mansfield or Trapps.  There are a couple of short, stiff walls, but most of the climbing is more gradual.  I had forgotten how nicely the trails flow and wind through evergreens and hardwood.  If you ski well in transitions, you’ll be rewarded here.   This requirement that was etched in sharp relief on the fast snow.

It was a great day, both to be able to get out on skis and to meet up with old friends.