The South Tahoe High School Nordic team has been battling low snow as much as its fellow competitors.
The Vikings finished the regular season Friday, Feb. 9, with the North Tahoe race that was moved up the mountain from Tahoe Cross Country in Tahoe City to the Auburn Ski Club.
"Thank goodness for ASC and their fine staff for taking on yet another race for our season," said Vikings head coach Mark Hoefer. "Otherwise, we would have only been able to get in a couple of races this year."
The race was intended to be a skiathlon format, a combination of both classic and freestyle skiing. But lack of snow and warm temperatures on race day prevented that format, so the racers did a two-lap freestyle race.
And once the race did start, South Tahoe started with a handicap. Due to official and coaching errors, Hoefer said, the boys' team was not on the front line at the start.
"There were only eight start lanes and nine teams represented," Hoefer said. "For some reason two teams with no varsity skiers in their program, were allowed to line up in front. This as an oversight on the race officials part and I was on the course to support the team, so I missed what happened. Though a 5-kilometer race is not won by the start, it does make it a bit more challenging."
The boys kept their composure and stayed patient as they made their way past slower racers.
Christopher Hoefer and Joshua Novak led the Vikings by finishing 16th and 17th, respectively, out of 50 competitors. Vikings Ryan Newberger and David Holmes finished 24th and 25th.
Nicole Morgan and Jessie Brown finished back-to-back, 20th and 21st, respectively, to lead the Viking girls.
The week before, Feb. 2, at Mammoth Mountain, the Vikings likely spent more time waxing their skis than it did to complete the 5-kilometer event due to warm temperatures and no new snow.
"This requires additional ski prep time, because proper waxing can mean seconds or even minutes between athletes in a classic race," Coach Hoefer said.
Just to watch the race, coaches and spectators had to hike/ski over a mile to get to the race start area.
Racing on a thin layer of snow, Christopher Hoefer earned 14th out of a field of 41 to lead the Vikings. Holmes was 21st and Novak was 22nd.
On Jan. 22, the Vikings meet at the Sugar Bowl Academy was moved to the lower part of the alpine mountain because the cross country trails could not be used.
Coach Hoefer said the race looked like an alpine super giant slalom, except the racers didn't get to use chairlifts and had to make their way up using their legs and poles.
"The boys skied four grueling laps and the girls did three," Coach Hoefer said.
Christopher Hoefer took on the demanding course and earned his best finish of the season, fourth place. Novak came in about 1:30 behind Hoefer to finish 10th.
Brown earned ninth to lead the girls while Nicole Morgan was 11th and Theresa Sandborn was 19th.
"What a wacky winter," coach Hoefer said. "Even though the amount of snow, especially for nordic ski areas has been dismal, the CNISS program has completed five of the six regularly scheduled races which is much better than last years two out of six, despite record snow."
The Nevada State championships have been moved up and will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at the Auburn Ski Club.