No one may have been more elated than Chris Hanson when 11 inches of snow tumbled on the Brainerd area Nov. 23.
It was the most snow the area has seen in nearly three years, which coincidentally was the last time the Brainerd Warriors Nordic ski team had any semblance of a normal season. Brainerd had 12 meets postponed or canceled the last two seasons. In 2000-01, only two meets were lost.
"It was a happy day," said Hanson, the Warriors' head coach. "We stayed off the trails. We tooled around through the deep, untracked snow because we wanted to make sure to get a good base set up, which is what we have now.
"North of us they're doing all right. Everyone south of St. Cloud is scratching for skiing time again. Saturday at our practice at the arboretum we saw a lot of people from the Twin Cities who were enjoying our conditions, which did deteriorate a little bit. It was warm and sunny, but it held up.
"We were skiing on a whole lot less snow last year to make it through the year."
As a result of this winter's conditions, Hanson said Brainerd's meet today at the Veteran's Administration trails in St. Cloud is on, along with Tuesday's meet, which also will be in St. Cloud.
Hanson said this season has presented an ideal situation.
"I was kidding with my assistant coaches that we need two weeks of dryland training, which is what we had, we need to rollerski, get equipment checked out, figure out who's on the team and who's not," he said. "Then it would be nice to instantly start skiing the third week.
"That's exactly what happened. We rollerskied (Nov. 22) at practice and by (Nov. 23) we got snow. It was perfect."
Hanson said more than 60 skiers, at the high school and junior high levels, have been capitalizing on the conditions.
Gymnastics -- Brainerd's scheduled opener tonight against Sauk Rapids has been postponed because the Storm has only seven gymnasts. The meet as yet has not been rescheduled.
Girls' hockey -- The Warriors play at Little Falls tonight, another program that is struggling with low numbers. The Flyers started the season with eight players and as a result canceled seven conference games. Their roster now lists 17 players.
Girls' basketball -- Brainerd hosts Willmar 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Cardinals return four players from a team that won its first 26 games last season before losing to Hutchinson in the section final. Returning are 6-1 sophomore Laura Nielsen and 5-10 seniors Tena Rytel and Lindsey Saunders and 5-7 Emily Swierenga.
Wrestling -- The Warriors open Saturday at the Blue Earth Invitational, which includes Austin, Blue Earth, Lake City, Madelia-Truman, Martin County West, Montgomery-Lonsdale, United South Central, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown and Worthington.
On Friday the Warriors will work out with Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian-Danube at Hector and stay in Blue Earth with wrestlers' families.
"It's a nice team building thing," Warriors coach Bob Brakke said. "It forces kids that end up staying together to get a little closer."
On Tuesday, the Warriors will wrestle at Sauk Rapids in the first of three triangulars.
Boys' hockey -- Brainerd hosts St. Paul Johnson, which dropped its opener 13-1 to Hill-Murray, at 4 p.m. Saturday. On Tuesday the Warriors host Sauk Rapids and high-flying forward Ryan Peckskamp.
"He's one of the top forwards in the conference, if not the state," Warriors coach Ty Eigner said of Peckskamp. "He put up some good numbers last year, and had a good year in football. He's certainly their leader."
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