The fast and slow, the action and emotion, the power and grace—these elements of contrasting beauty are part of what make cross country skiing so great. And they’re all captured in the 2021 Photo Annual and its immersive, 16-page gallery celebrating the vivid, dramatic images of the sport. But this issue isn’t just a compilation of photos, and its stories go where images can’t. Headlining the issue is a profile of Hannah Halvorsen, the U.S. Ski Team athlete who returned to the World Cup circuit in December after being struck by a car just more than a year earlier. Then we visit the farmyard skiing at Burlington, Vermont’s Intervale Center before heading to the mining roads and ditches and historic railroad grades of Summit County and Leadville, Colorado. Also inside: A conversation with Swix’s 50-year product manager and wax innovator; tips and techniques to improve quickness and explosivity; and our first-ever Touring Guide.
On the cover: While on the World Cup circuit, Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan lived within the Davis U.S. Ski Team's "COVID Bubble." And during January's Tour de Ski, the duo often existed in a competition bubble of sorts, regularly following one another's attacks over eight stages of racing and landing atop the podium an American- record nine times, including two historic 1-2 finishes. [Photo] Nordic Focus/Federico Modica
2021 Photo Annual
Cross country skiing thrives on action—the kick and glide, the flex of muscles, the power and speed of a skier in motion. But the sport's beauty also lies in singular moments—the bite of kickwax, the photo finish, the step out of the track before a steep descent—and times of quiet and solitude that contrast with all that movement and momentum. That's why photos of cross country skiing are so vivid—they capture the fast and the slow, the action and the emotion, the power and the grace, all against a backdrop of white and green, forest and field. And all of which is presented in this year's Photo Annual.
Humans of Cross Country Skiing
In the time since Erika Flowers was a giraffe- legged 11-year-old learning to ski on Bozeman, Montana's Lindley trails, the fringe sport she's long participated in has grown into something significantly more mainstream. That's become no more apparent than on her home trails, no longer just skied by athletes training with the Bridger Ski Foundation. Flowers and photographer Max Lowe caught up with skiers early last March to learn about this evolution—and who these newcomers are, where they're coming from and why they're wearing jorts and bizarre sunglasses.
Red, White, Blue and Yellow
Finding emotional and physical healing in the tracks and what happens when a career path and skiing become one.
Finding Love for the Process
Everything was on the right track for Hannah Halvorsen last November. Then, while in the middle of a crosswalk in Anchorage, Alaska, the 22-year-old U.S. Ski Team athlete was struck by a car. The impact tore two ligaments in her left knee, shattered her tibial plateau and fractured and lacerated her skull. After a demanding recovery and a challenging summer, balancing school and training to get back to international competition, Halvorsen found herself in Davos, Switzerland, competing on the World Cup—just more than 13 months after what could have been a career-ending accident.
Tip of the Hat
Swix's former product manager and longtime wax innovator talks World Cup racing, COVID in Scandinavia and his latest project, a book profiling the history of Swix.
Overland: Burlington, Vermont's Intervale Center
Beside Vermont's most populated neighborhoods lies a storied floodplain that's farmed by summer and groomed by winter.
Past Lives on Skis
Almost every high-altitude town in Colorado has a mining road or a railroad grade groomed for cross country skiing. And if there isn't a road, there's an old flume cleared of deadfall that allows for ungroomed classic skiing perfection. Ellen Hollinshead travels from Breckenridge to Alma to Leadville to ski among ghost towns and through mining history, contemplating past lives along the way.
The Final Stretch
Tools, tricks and techniques needed for heading off the groomed track.
How to improve quickness and explosivity.
Michael LeBlanc's "just go for it" attitude.
An aged instructor returns to work.