(And when else do we cancel practice?)
There are basically three conditions that cause us to cancel a Junior Nordic practice:
- The windchill-adjusted temperature is less than -5 F
- Conditions are rainy or icy
- Warm temperatures have compromised trail conditions
At the end of the day, our goals with any practice is to make sure that kids are both safe and happy. We also want to avoid damaging to the trails by skiing on them when they’re super-soft due to warm temps.
When conditions are right at the margin of being either too warm or too cold, making the call regarding whether to have practice to be challenging. And just to give you a taste of how challenging this can be, consider the following scenarios:
Forecasts are calling for temperates at the start of practice to be -4F with little wind, but they’re also calling for wind to pick up to 10 mph 45 minutes after practice starts, bringing windchill to -20 F.
We would probably have practice under these circumstance because we could have kids on the trails and sheltered by the time that the wind starts blowing. And at the end of practice, they could head straight to a warm car. We might skip games on a night like this because we tend to play them in areas that are more open and exposed to wind.
Snow conditions are excellent at noon, but Chinook winds have started and temperates are expected to rise above freezing an hour or two before practice.
The interaction between the cold snow and warm winds can create a thin layer of “glaze ice” on the snow that is nearly impossible to ski on. These conditions are both frustrating for kids and risk nasty falls. For this reason, we would probably cancel practice under these circumstances.
Forecasts are calling for slowing falling temperates, starting at -5 F at the beginning of practice, and down to -7 F by the end of practice.
Our afternoon groups would probably cancel practice under these circumstances since they’re catering younger skies who are more easily chilled. Our evening groups might do a “split call”, opting to hold practice for Wolverines and Hawks, but canceling practice for Polar Cubs and Otters.
Temperatures are holding steady at 33 F with an ongoing drizzle and no wind. Trails are soft and slick, but still skiable.
We would cancel practice at this scenario. Most of our kids don’t own the equipment (such as waterproof gloves, rain pants, etc.) that would would keep them dry in these conditions. And wet kids plus near freezing temperatures makes for a miserable skiing experience at best, and can also risk hypothermia at worst.
Hopefully, this give everybody a sense of how complex some of these calls can be. And it’s also worth noting that when conditions are on the margins, we will often wait until just an hour or two before practice to send out notifications because we want an up-to-the-minute picture of weather and trail conditions before we make a final call.