Despite training with the Norwegian and Swiss cross-country ski teams and having Olympic medalists in her family, Nina MacLeod never wanted to compete herself.
“I’ve been on skis since I was 2 years old. I love being out in nature, and skiing and snowshoeing brings you out there in the winter,” the South Lake Tahoe resident said. “I was never interested in competing. I just wanted to do it.”
MacLeod’s stepfather, Sigmund Ruud, and his brothers, Birger and Asbjørn, dominated ski jumping in the 1920s and ’30s.
At the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Sigmund earned a silver medal in the ski-jumping competition.
“My father was the first man to jump 80 meters in competition,” MacLeod said. “And his brother Birger won two events in Lake Placid in 1932 to be the only person who won Nordic and Alpine gold in the same Olympics. They are just legends.”
Born in Norway, MacLeod came to the U.S. in 1964 to teach skiing for former alpine ski racer and Norwegian Olympic gold medalist Stein Eriksen at his Vermont school.
She later went on the teach downhill skiing at Heavenly ski resort and has taught cross country at Spooner and Hope Valley for 20 years.
In 1999, MacLeod decided to bring an annual Norwegian tradition to the Sierra in honor of legendary mail carrier Snowshoe Thompson, who carried mail on skis across the Sierra Nevada in the 1800s.
“Knowing about Snowshoe and being born in Norway, I knew what they did, and I thought we should do the same thing here. It’s in coordination with what they do in Norway,” MacLeod said. “It’s amazing what he accomplished and how he was able to cross the Sierra the way he did.”
The 15th annual cross-country and snowshoe tour is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 1 at the Highway 88 and 89 intersection in Hope Valley, and features guided treks by Snowshoe Thompson (Steve Hale).
Sponsored by the nonprofit organization Friends of Snowshoe Thompson, the event features a children’s scavenger hunt, historic anecdotes, a longboard demonstration and refreshments.
At 9:30 a.m., guests can join the snowshoe or ski tour up Burnside Lake Road led by Snowshoe.
“This is a wander. It’s like going for a stroll on foot. Anybody can walk on snowshoes. It’s the same as walking; you just have bigger feet,” MacLeod said. “We also encourage people to just come and participate at the yurt. They don’t have to go anywhere.”
The cost for the event is a $10 donation, with children younger than 12 participating free. Snowshoes and cross-country skis will be available for rental for an additional fee. Registration and rentals start at 8:30 a.m.
For more information, call MacLeod at 530-573-8940 or Sue Knight 775-315-7777.