by Thomas O’Harra

When I got to the Truckee area last week, there was little to no snow, anywhere. The temperature was in the 50s, and there was green grass growing in places. Coming from Switzerland—where it snowed almost three feet in one 24 hour period—it was definitely a shock. The family that I was staying with told me that they had raked their yard the previous week—not a typical February activity to say the least!

The first day or so, I spread out, cleaned all my clothes, and relaxed a little bit. I explored the woods behind their house on short runs. The forest here is very different from what I’m used to in Alaska, with a veritable jungle in between birch and spruce. Here, the space among the tall pines and cedars was open, with a long line-of-sight. It was interesting, and kind of strange.

Arriving on Monday, I first went skiing on that Wednesday. The trails at Auburn Ski Club were very dirty and slushy, with puddles and dirt patches everywhere. After that first ski I was very worried that they would not be able to pull off an event like Junior Nationals in two weeks.

Luckily, it snowed. Snow storms here are different than in Alaska. When it snows, it snows hard, and it snows a lot. That storm dumped about 15 inches at ASC and almost two feet higher up on top of some of the ski resorts.

This weekend, I also moved to a hostel, close to Donner Pass and Sugar Bowl resort. It is an old lodge, built by the Sierra Club in the 1930’s. Living in a dorm-like situation had me a little nervous, mainly because I was worried about my computer and camera. However, they have proven to be safe when I’m away, which is very relieving.

The lodge is rustic, but nice. They encourage volunteering to help out with meals, but other than that, it is very quiet here. There isn’t a whole lot to do, so I’ve been trying to recharge and relax before the upcoming races. The food is good, and there aren’t a ton of people around. Today I skied at Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski center. Normally, on a good year, they have over 200 kilometers of trails. Today, they had about 15 kilometers of thin, soft snow. Still, it was a very nice break from skiing laps on a 2k loop at ASC. This week I start my race prep for Junior Nationals, and I will send a new update as soon as something exciting happens.

Sorry for not having any pictures on this installment, I haven’t really been out with a camera this week. I will post some next time!

Thanks for reading!


ThomasThomas O’Harra is a full time student-athlete at Alaska Pacific University. Growing up in Anchorage, he spent a lot of time outside and in the mountains—hiking, skiing, and generally having fun. He now races and trains with the APU Nordic Ski Center while taking a full course load at the university. Currently, Thomas is on a two-month trip for racing, starting in Kazakhstan, then traveling to races in Czech Republic and Switzerland before returning to the U.S. to race at Junior Nationals in Truckee, CA and SuperTour Finals and Spring Series in Sun Valley, ID at the end of March.



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