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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 15, 2012

‘I love snow,’ Guilderland senior willing to travel to find it

GUILDRLAND –– It was a tough winter, but Austin Miller found enough snow to ski.

In fact, the Guilderland senior did more than just ski his cross-country terrain. He placed 21st in the state in Lake Placid.

Miller is a cross-country runner, too, but says that he goes faster on skis. A skiing Miller would often beat a running Miller.

“There’s less people in a ski race,” Miller said. “It would be pretty close. You cover more ground on skis.”

The best type of fitness training for all sports is cross-country skiing, which uses 80 percent of a person’s total muscle mass; runners use 60 percent of total muscle mass, according to BrianMac Sports Coach.

“It keeps you in shape,” said Miller of skiing. “I really like it.”

Miller finished 11th in Section II to make the state competition held in Lake Placid on Feb. 27. He finished the 10K race in 31:34. The following day, Miller raced in the relay championships, coming in 10th with Matt Forshey of Scotia and Dave Krutz of Mayfield.

Section II didn’t get any snowstorms during the season, but Lake Placid had a foot-and- a-half of snow for the state competition. It was the most snow Miller had seen all year. The course trail was wide and the grooming was superb.

“It’s one of my favorite places to ski,” Miller said of Lake Placid. “You start climbing uphill as you come into town and the snow starts piling up. It’s a completely different place.”

In preparation for states, Miller drove an hour each way to Nick Stoner Golf Course in Caroga Lake for practice with the state team. There was enough snow there.

Miller told The Enterprise that snow is one of his favorite things, so he was willing to travel for the white stuff. “I love snow,” he said.

Downhill skiing and snowmobiling further fulfill Miller’s passion for snow, but cross-country skiing has taken over much of his time in the winter. “Cross-country is more of a goal to achieve,” he said. “Downhill is just for fun.”

Miller picked up cross-country skiing in 10th grade after his friends Andrew Klug and Chris Whalen convinced him to try. Klug and Whalen came from skiing families and Miller started joining them on trips to Lapland Lake in Northville.

The first season was an experiment, Miller says, but he was in good enough shape from running to be competitive in races. “It’s harder than it looks,” he said. “I was falling down at first, I’m not going to lie, but it didn’t take too long to start focusing on the glide –– staying on one ski as long as possible.”

Cross-country skiing has two styles –– classic and skate. The classic approach is used on prepared trails that have parallel tracks cut into the landscape. Skate style is a side-to-side movement similar to rollerblading or ice skating. Skating skis are usually shorter and stiffer than those used for classic cross-country skiing.

The 2011-12 season was a skating year, Miller said.

“Classic is more like on a track,” said Miller. “I have better technique with skate because I can go a little faster.”

Cross-country skiers will perform better if they keep a solid pace. The idea is to keep a steady rhythm throughout the race.

“You have to pace yourself,” Miller said. “Preserve your technique.”

Nordic skiers use wax for greater speed, but Miller said that it doesn’t make a huge difference at the high school level. There’s glide wax, kick wax, klisters, and waxtapes.

“It’ll help you out at the Olympic level,” said Miller, who uses Fisher skis and boots. “Also, it’s about how much money you want to spend on wax.”

Miller said he met some really nice people in Lake Placid. He doesn’t have college plans that include skiing, but he wouldn’t mind joining a club if there was one. He wants to study mechanical engineering.

Running and skiing have similar aerobic qualities, but which is Miller better at?

It’s close.

“It’s a race, and you go as fast as you can,” Miller said. “I can’t explain it much more than that, but it’s pretty competitive.”

By Jordan J. Michael

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