Racers --and walkers - will hit Camp Richardson Resort's groomed track next weekend for the 14th annual Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club snowshoe event.
No prior snowshoe experience is needed for the five-kilometer race set to take place Sunday, Feb. 24. Event organizers welcome "first-time walkers" as well as dedicated snowshoe racers who want to help support a South Shore cause.
"Just come out and have fun," race director Carol Nageotte said.
For the past eight years, all proceeds from the Fresh Tracks walk and race have gone to the Eric Nageotte-Lowe Scholarship Fund that benefits Heavenly Mountain Resort's freestyle team. Nageotte and her husband, Ron, began organizing the event after Eric's death in 2004 as a way to honor the memory of Ron's son and support his former teammates.
The South Tahoe High School alumnus was practicing his mogul skiing at a New Zealand ski resort when he died after crashing into a ravine September 2004, the Tribune reported that year.
Carol Nageotte said her 18-year-old stepson had asked to train in New Zealand at the Treble Cone summer mogul camp as a high school graduation present. He was aiming for a berth on the U.S. Ski Team, she said.
"He wanted to train with the best coaches. He had his sights set on the Olympics," Nageotte remembers.
Eric Nageotte cut his teeth competing with top freestyle skiers like Sho Kashima. The two athletes would often nab podium spots at regional and national competitions, and Kashima is now a member of the U.S. Ski Team and a two-time national champion.
Ron Nageotte estimates that Fresh Tracks and the Far West mogul competition have raised thousands of dollars since 2004 for the Heavenly Freestyle Team and skiers like Kashima.
The money covers gym and travel fees for the athletes. Every dollar helps, Nageotte said Friday.
South Shore residents are the ones who usually swell the snowshoeing ranks, but Carol Nageotte said anyone is welcome to the event, which offers food, prizes and snowshoe rentals in addition to use of Camp Richardson's trail system.
The Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club first started "Fresh Tracks" as a way to keep fit when the roads were covered with ice and snow.
"As runners, we're trying to find ways to train in the winter. In Tahoe, we put our Yaktrax on and try to run on the forest service roads," Carol Nageotte said.
Entry forms for the upcoming event are available at Kahle Community Center, South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center and the Douglas County Public Library Zephyr Cove Branch. Online registration is available at www.race360.com.