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Bern Anderes, a freshman at Union High School, has been a competitive alpine skier for about 10 years. DICK MASON - The Observer
15-year-old competitive alpine racer from La Grande strengthens his skiing skills with six-days-a- week workouts on Mount Hood’s Palmer Snowfield
The summer of 2012 will be remembered by Bern Anderes of La Grande as one of the best winters of his life.
A freshman at Union High School, Anderes spent much of the past summer on skis, not water skis but those of the alpine variety. Anderes skied on Mount Hood six days a week from early June through late August with members of the Cascade Winter Sports Club.
Anderes was among thousands from throughout the world who skied on the Palmer Snowfield at Mount Hood, one which sits atop a glacier. People have been skiing on the Palmer Snowfield each summer for decades.
Two lifts operate on the snowfield in the summer. The ski area closed Aug. 29 not for lack of snow but for maintenance work.
“The end of August was the end of winter for me,’’ Anderes said.
He spent his summer skiing at Mount Hood to hone his racing skills. Anderes, 15, has been involved in competitive alpine skiing since he was 5. He credits instruction from Cascade Winter Sports Club coaches with helping him fine-tune his skills.
“They are some of the best coaches in the nation,’’ Anderes said.
He said that his ski stance and his ability to exit the starting gate quickly improved because of the coaching he received. Anderes competes in Pacific Northwest Ski Association events each winter as a member of the Cascade Winter Sports Club.
His summer workouts on Mount Hood ran from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Skiing was best in the morning, he said, because the snow was hard after freezing the night before. The snow became slushy by afternoon.
The hard snow Anderes trained on was ideal for developing his skills because it is similar to the type he races on in the winter.
Anderes enjoyed skiing on the Mount Hood glacier immensely but said he prefers fresh snow.
“It is like skiing on miniature ice cubes — it is hard.’’
Skiing on new snow provides a far different sensation.
“On fresh snow it feels like you are floating and flying,’’ said Anderes, the son of Paul and Kelly Anderes of La Grande.
The area Anderes trained on at Mount Hood ranged in altitude from 6,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level. Working out in thinner air helped Anderes improve his physical conditioning. He noticed this when he came back to the Grande Ronde Valley.
“I found that it was a lot easier to do weightlifting workouts,’’ he said. “I felt much stronger.’’
The UHS freshman had skied on Mount Hood in the summer before but not as extensively as he did this year. Anderes, though, never found the daily workouts at Mount Hood to be a grind or monotonous.
“Each day was a new experience,’’ he said.
Anderes found that the bond he feels for skiing was strengthened by his winter-like summer.
“This made me feel like I’ve found my passion. I knew I had a passion for skiing before, but I did not feel connected to it like I do now.’’