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Tough Practices and Winter Conditions Prepares the Copper Country Ski Tigers for State Championships at the Al Quaal Recreation Area

During any given winter, you’re sure to find plenty of Upper Peninsula residents out cross-country skiing. That includes this strange season as well. While residents in the region are disappointed by the winter’s lack of snowfall so far, residents and athletes are making the most out of the available snow. Including the Copper Country Ski Tigers. Since the cross-country season started, kids in the programs have been out with coaches practicing on their skis and conditioning in some unique ways.

“Yeah, the kids have amazing attitudes. It has been really fun. They’re adaptable. They’re nothing if not adaptable, right? Especially middle schoolers. I joke that they’re goofy. I’m also a band director. I love the middle level. It’s like, look at me, but don’t look at me. And then all the silly jokes that accompany the nicknames, they’re out there just trying everything we throw at them each week. One of the things that we did, I called it Candy Cane Pain was like an arm workout where you don’t put your arms down for 15 minutes with all these different moves. At first, it seems easy, it is not. But it was really funny, and we got candy canes after. And this is all because we’ve not been able to ski. That was in December. Normally we’d be on snow since November, maybe even October. So, I have to commend them because I think they’ve done an excellent job being adaptable and just doing whatever we can throw at them every day. They’ve been super great.” – Jana Meckler, Development Program Coach, Copper Country Ski Tigers

Coach Jana says that she’s incredibly proud of her students and those in the high school program. With smiles on their faces and sisu in their hearts, these kids have been preparing for this weekend’s state Nordic Ski Championship in Ishpeming. The competition will bring skiers in from all over the state, all of whom have been challenged by this year’s snow conditions. 

“You want a lot of snow. And you don’t want sticky snow or ice. You want somewhere in between.”– Jonathon Hinckleberry, Hancock Schools

“Yeah, it’s been really fun working with our coaches. I like our coaches and I’m excited about the race.” – Isaac Talbot, Homeschooled

“Well, which has been kind of weird this year. Like we’ve had some pretty extreme ice recently. Like last week I think it was, it was so slippery that I fell at least 10 times during one practice. But we’ve been somewhat adapting, like doing less extreme stuff on strange days, but been pretty balanced.” – Sam Miller, Houghton schools

Coach Jana wanted to give a special shout-out to thank the Tech Trail groomers who have done everything possible to keep trails maintained this winter. 

“But we do need to know how to race in all conditions so it’s excellent training to be out while it’s snowing or with wind blowing in your face or your kick zone if your classic skiing is caking and what to do about that while you’re out there dealing with it all with the icy conditions. Brian Isaacson and his crew here at Michigan Tech Trails have done an incredible job being able to like scratch the surface up a little bit for us when it gets icy so that if you’re skate skiing you can still get some edge to push off. Some folks call that corduroy or like, you know, just grooming scratching the surface. Without that careful work of theirs we wouldn’t have been able to be out here too much.” – Jana Meckler, Development Program Coach, Copper Country Ski Tigers

Those interested in cheering on the Copper Country Ski Tigers or any of the kids participating in the Michigan Nordic Ski Championships this weekend at the Alquaal Recreation Area can hear the starting buzzer go off at noon today. You can find more details about the event here.

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