Every Christmas morning the Hagens click into their Nordic skis like good Norwegians and glide into Grand Teton National Park. Fifteen year old Annabel says it’s a tradition she is proud of whether her family is with her uncle Martin Hagen, a three time Olympic biathlete, or with family friends.
“We all go out and ski together from the Taggart trailhead until we don’t want to ski anymore,” she says. “When you get in a certain rhythm and pace, you don’t even think about it. You’re not focused on breathing or thinking, ‘what if I trip and fall?’ You just think about what’s around you and the conversation you’re involved in. Time flies because your mind floats away.”
To Nordic skiers in the area, there’s nothing more therapeutic or athletic than skating on crisp white snow. Whether it’s an hour of skate skiing, a skin up Snow King or 12 hours in the park, the access to well-groomed tracks and beautiful backcountry terrain is unparalleled in this town. Perhaps that is why Jackson is home to so many Olympic Nordic skiers who are now passing on their love of the sport to their children.
“One of the reasons I love to live in Jackson so much is there is so much skiing on hand,” said Hans Johnstone, who competed in the 1988 games in Calgary for Nordic Combined, an event that mixes Nordic skiing with ski jumping. “It completes the day and keeps me in a good frame of mind. It can be like a meditation session.”His wife, Nancy Johnstone, was among the first women to ever compete in the Olympic Biathlon (an event that combines cross country skiing and target shooting) in Albertville, France in 1992. Local realtor Erich Wilbrecht competed in the men’s Olympic biathlon that same year.
Johnstone, who owns the Alpine House and Turpin Meadow Ranch, went on to become the head coach of the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club. Now the kids that she trained are coaching her three teenagers in Nordic and freestyle skiing.
“I like to see the next generation getting out there and see the sport provide all the fun, excitement and challenge it provided for us,” Hans Johnstone said. “Who knows where they’ll take it.”
This winter, the Olympic couple will open up a shooting range at Turpin Meadow the Nordic facility and guest ranch they operate between Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. It will be the first time since the Hagen family organized a biathlon club in the early 1970s—back then they set up a shooting range in, of all places, the basement of the old high school—that there will be a facility to train Nordic skiers in the art of speed target shooting. This discipline requires the extraordinary focus amidst a high heart rate, body and mind control.
Cosmic Questions with Carol Mann: What is your take on life after death?- Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedin Question: What is your take on life after death? Perhaps you have heard this before…we do not HAVE souls…we ARE souls who HAVE a human body. The pure awareness that we are, temporarily links to the physical body in order to experience itself in this extraordinary and also very limited physical world reality.… Cosmic Questions with Carol Mann – Plants Have Feelings, too.- Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedinQuestion: “I recently heard that plants are intelligent and have feelings, so now I am a bit freaked out wondering if plants feel pain when I am cutting flowers, pruning trees, mowing the lawn or crushing things underfoot all summer when hiking off trail. Please tell me more about plants and their perceptions.”- Susan… Cosmic Questions with Carol Mann- Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedinQuestion: Does the soul really choose MY parents? Carol’s Reply: Yes! From the perspective of reincarnation theory there is an intentional “match up” of souls to their parents in each lifetime. No matter how it seems, this purposeful selection sets the stage for activating both what you intend to learn and what you are… Intuition: Guide To Your Inner Wisdom- Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedinIntuition is an invaluable, built-in, higher guidance system, which comes with us at birth. The soul (higher consciousness, higher self, spirit) is the source of these intuitive messages, and the soul informs us what is our greatest good. Intuition bypasses the rational mind and presents itself in the form of “that little voice inside,”… 4 Way to Find Happiness- Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedinEditor’s Note: this article originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole. We now know the brain is very dynamic; it can be upgraded at any age, and it changes in response to internal training. Neuroscience has identified four brain circuits that, when activated on a regular basis, will lead to measurable increases in happiness and…
Martin Hagen, a biathlete who competed in the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympics, followed in the footsteps of the first biathlon champion from Jackson, Pete Karns, who was an alpine racer and jumper as well as a cross country champion in high school and college. Karns finished 14th in the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan and went on to train Hagen and Rusty Scott, another local world champion.
Now Hagen’s niece, Annabel, is holding the torch. She was the regional champion in the U14 Intermountain Division for skate skiing and classic cross country skiing last year. Her father, Rody, also competed on the US Junior Nationals team.
“It’s really inspirational I guess,” Annabel says. “I grew up Nordic skiing. It was a given that I tried. But I don’t feel any pressure from anyone in my family because they’ve gotten so far with it. You see where they’ve gone and you get on skis and you say, ‘I want to get to that level. This is so cool. This might be the way they felt.’”
Whether you are interested in competition or not, locals agree that Nordic skiing is a sport that requires a unique core strength and a lot of endurance. It is also one of the most accessible sports in the winter for all age groups. The gear is a fraction of the cost of alpine ski gear, there is no lift ticket required, and there is little doubt that it connects the mind, body and spirit as well as the family.
“There’s nothing else that comes as close to a perfect sport as Nordic skiing,” says Scott O’Brien, another former director of the ski club’s Nordic program and now one of the owners of local retailer Skinny Skis. “It emcompasses the whole body. The lower body and the upper body. It’s like taking running and crossing it with kayaking…It is a stress reduction exercise too. The quietness you find on the trail. You can go for miles, even on a groomed track and see no one.”
Skinny Skis puts out a map every year called Trailhead, and is a sponsor of JHnordic.com, an online resource describing the trails groomed by the US Forest Service, national parks and Teton County/Jackson Parks & Recreation, including Cache Creek, Game Creek and the Levee along the Snake River in Wilson. Just down the road, Trail Creek and Teton Pines Country Club have private tracks, which are open to the public with the purchase of a day or season pass.
When O’Brien reflects on his 30 years in the valley, he marvels at the ability to essentially walk outside his door and strap on skis, and he is thrilled to able to give his 11-year-old daughter a love of Nordic skiing in their backyard.
“I think more and more as a parent there’s all these distractions that kids have and influences that want to keep them inside like the latest electronic device,” he said. “Nordic skiing is easy and affordable. All it takes is patience and a love of being outside.”
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