Saturday, November 26, 2016: Thanksgiving Day was a bit of an odd holiday here in West Yellowstone this year. We didn’t share a turkey or have a special meal (burgers, salad, and potatoes) as the kids have decided to move our dinner to Sunday when the races are finished. Instead some of the crew did a pre-race workout in the morning to prepare for Friday’s skate event while much of the team (those racing Saturday and those who participated in the novice biathlon on Wednesday) had the day off.

Mid-day we took everyone to the West Yellowstone Bear and Wolf Museum near the Yellowstone Park entrance. They have live bear and wolf exhibits as well as a few raptors.

One of the wolves taking a nap. Most of their wolves were born in captivity so while it seems sad to watch a wild animal stomp the perimeters of a small enclosure, these guys don’t know any different.

An eagle quietly watching us.

Inside a building that sits between two of the wolf enclosures. They have three separate wolf packs (two wolves in each pack due to enclosure size). The video playing in this photo caught the attention of our crew for quite a while!

Elliot giving Tanner and Brian a lift around the outdoor exhibits.

Another wolf keeping an eye on us while she naps. We can hear the wolves howling just before sunrise from outside our cabins if there’s no wind. It’s an eery sound.

You can’t tell in these photos because they’re nothing for perspective, but these guys were HUGE!

An eagle….the three of them in this enclosure sat so still that they were hard to spot when we first approached!

One of the grizzly bears looking for lunch.

This was a highlight….and showed why we don’t climb trees when we encounter bears. This tree was tiny and couldn’t have been scaled by a human in half the time the bear went up. It’s reaching for some food that the keepers put up there.

The whole gang with one of the bears in the background (dark spot just over TK’s head).

Friday morning brought the first USSA races of the year with skate distance (5k for U16 guys and all the women, and 10k for U18 men and older) events on the Rendezvous Trails. The race course was prepared to perfection and the crew got to break out good skis for competing.

Elliot coming out of the start early in the men’s field.

Greg at the start of his second 5k lap…. This was Greg’s first 10k race!

Walker skiing solo into the second 5k.

TK charging off the line in the U16 men’s 5k.

Carl getting going.

Brian making the pass on some younger competition before even making it out of the stadium!

Tanner climbing the final long hill out in the woods before starting the descent back toward the stadium. This has to have been the first single-lap 5k course most of our team has done since we were here last November! Exciting but at the same time it was weird as a coach to only see them twice each!

Olivia charging hard through some transitions in the middle of the course.

GMVS parents: there are a lot more individual athlete photos from Friday’s races in the Google Drive Nordic photos folder: Click ‘November’ then ‘WY’. Enjoy! 

With the crew finishing up their homework we’ve had more time for other activities….like crocheting! Kat taught Olivia, Greg, Brian, Rena, Margo (last February) and Carl how to crochet on Thursday and Friday.

Olivia finished her first hat yesterday and was pretty excited about the perfect pompom she made to top it off!

Today (Saturday) Rena and Nick will toe the line in 5k and 10k classic races while the rest of the crew plans to train before the start and then cheer for them. Stay tuned for more photos tomorrow!

Full race results from Friday’s skate events can be found here.

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