While the exact date is up in the air, experts estimate the world's first snowshoes made their debut on the calloused soles of humans about 6,000 years ago in Central Asia. Back in the days of yore, those slices of tightly woven wood were used as a means to survive the wrath of walking in snow—and probably served as a convenient way to walk over frozen animal excrement. But these days, snowshoeing as a sport is apparently taking off in leaps and bounds.
You have the opportunity to push your own pair of snowshoes to the limit during the 2010 Montana Snowshoe Championships, which starts at 10 AM Sat., Jan. 23, at the Homestake Lodge just east of Butte off of exit 233 on I-90. Register early by clicking to www.active.com/running/butte-mt/montana-snowshoe-championships-2010, or by getting to the lodge at 8:30 AM. Get in on the excitement of the 10k race, or give your pups an easier option with the 5k. Here's the price breakdown: $30 for the 10k race/$25 for the 5k. Give Chris a ringer at 585-8052 for any extra questions and visit homestakelodge.com.
If you'd rather spend Sat., Jan. 23, popping shots at targets and blazing around on cross-country skis with competitive drive, then don't space the 2010 Seeley Lake Challenge Biathlon, which starts at the Seeley Lake Nordic Trails with day-of registration from 8–9 AM, followed by a safety class, target practice and race meeting, finally jumping into the race at 11 AM. The competition is open to all ages, so be prepared to shell out $30 the day of, or $25 by registering early. Call Cheryl Thompson at 677-2309 for more info. This biathlon is part of Seeley Lake's Winterfest weekend, which includes an array of parades, music and grubbing, so call the Seeley Lake Chamber at 677-2880 or visit seeleylakechamber.com.
Those of you up yonder in the Flathead who get hot and bothered at the thought of barreling down slick terrains ought to bring your able appendages up to the Whitefish Whiteout Ski Mountaineering Race, which starts at 8:30 AM at Chair One Plaza at the Whitefish Mountain Resort. The race is open to AT/Touring, telemark skiers or split board snowboarders. The event also includes a recreation course, which features two ascents and descents. Grab specifics by scrolling over to skiwhitefish.com/ calendar_of_events.php. $50/$30 for the recreation course. Call 862-2910 for course questions.
Carving ice meets up with elegant poses–but probably not leotards—during the Missoula Figure Skating Club's Learn to Skate Basic Skills Session Two, an eight-week ice skating class which starts at 10 AM Sat., Jan. 23, at the Glacier Ice Rink, 1101 South Ave. $110. Visit missoulafsc.org for a registration form, or arrive early Saturday to sign up.
Just when you thought your options on Sat., Jan. 23, were exhausted, the Montana Natural History Center (MNHC) comes along to pack your adventure pipe with a helping of heady events. The first is a Winter Tracking Workshop with Northwest Connections that starts at 9 AM and runs all day at TBA locales near Missoula. Here's the lowdown: Tom Parker and Adam Lieberg train your animal tracking senses into skills that a CIA operative would be proud of when they cover basic habitat requirements, gait patterns, track identification in the snow, and top it off with a bit o' history on various wildlife. $65/$60 members. Space is limited, so speed dial 327-0405 to RSVP. Visit montananaturalist.org.
Your knuckle dragging underlings ages 5 and up get to have all the fun later in the day during the MNHC program "Winter Ice Painting!", which starts at 2 PM at the center, 120 Hickory St. Expect your happy little beast to be slipped some facts about ice and snow, play a game or two, and lend their budding aesthetic senses to an art activity where they'll paint with ice—that should make for some "cool" art, eh? $2 per child/free MNHC members.
Once they've had their ice fill, use Sun., Jan. 24, as an excuse to plop your youngling between the ages of 5–12 onto the hill at Whitefish Mountain Resort so their wee legs can compete at the Tommy Moe Kids' League Giant Slalom competition, which starts with registration at 9 AM at the Fireside Room at the resort. A complimentary coaching sesh follows, with the competition running from 1–3 PM. $12 per participant. Register early by calling 862-2909 and visit skiwhitefish.com.
Later on Sun., Jan. 24, zoom dat derriere back down to Zoola in order to whet your kayaking whistle during the first of two whitewater kayak pool sessions hosted by the Montana River Association, with the first session from 6–8 PM at Currents Aquatic Center, 600 Cregg Lane. $7/$5 students with ID. Open to all ages and abilities. Call Kevin Brown at 370-4436.
Mon., Jan. 25 offers the chance for your aching legs to get some running tips from an expert when Anders Brooker delivers the talk "Can You Start from Zero and Still Run the Missoula Marathon or Half-Marathon?," at 7 PM at the Good Food Store, 1600 S. Third St. W. Free. Visit runwildmissoula.org.
Once Tue., Jan. 26, rolls around, learn how to call for help when you're in danger of getting buried in snow by getting frisky with technology during an Avalanche Transceiver Workshop, which runs from 5–8 PM on Jan. 26, and at the same time on Thu., Jan. 28, at UM's Fitness and Recreation Center. $15. RSVP by Jan. 25 by calling 243-5172.
Top off your week by tearing pow pow a new one during Montana Snowbowl's Alpine Evening Race Series, which starts at a TBA time on Wed., Jan. 27. Sign-up and grab specifics by calling Deb Demmons at 258-5260 or e-mailing email@example.com.
'Til we meet again, be sure to boot up, shoe up and get down wit' cha snow loving self.