Laura Valaas

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I got an email today as follows:

“Tired of chip sealed roads?”

lav: yes!

“dust, rock chips, asphalt tar on your car. And now you can’t road bike, roller ski, skateboard, skate, etc for several years until it gets worn smooth. And then they just do it again!!!”

lav: well, I kind of like the asphalt-tar-on-the-car look, but I HATE rollerskiing on chip-sealed roads. so awful.

“There are other choices that can be used!”

lav: i know, but they must be cost-prohibitive otherwise no one would chip-seal, right?

Asphalt Seal Coat Options
Source: US Forest service comparative study –

lav: wrong. as i so often am.

“Chelan County has never done a serious review of these more modern sealing practices, and prefer to stick with their “old school” chip seal method as it is what they know well.”

lav: typical

“The County is currently planning to chip seal the White River Road next Wednesday. Please contact Jolene and Keith as soon as possible and ask them to use another method to seal this roadway.”

lav: yes indeed. so i drafted and emailed a letter as follows.

Dear Jolene (Dear Keith),

I have heard that there are plans to chip seal the White River Road next week. While I appreciate everything the county does to maintain the roads and public lands, I would like to draw your attention to several modern alternatives to chip sealing.

(insert table of seal coat options)

While chip sealing has been a common practice in the past, many other WA counties and western states successfully have switched to more bike friendly methods of road sealing. Using chip seal on the roads, especially roads such as the White River road, which are beautiful & popular roads for rollerskiing and cycling, is not only less pleasant for the outdoor enthusiasts in Chelan County, it is a safety hazard. On a smoothly sealed road, I quite happily rollerski or spin my way along the shoulder. If the road is chip sealed I, and every other cyclist or rollerskier I have ever met, will ski or cycle in the vehicle lane where the car tires make the chip seal much smoother than on the shoulder. This is a much more dangerous place to be as a cyclist or rollerskier but new chip seal can quickly cause your hands (cycling) or feet (rollerskiing) to lose sensation, which also has its dangers.

Another solution would be to recommend cylists & rollerskiers to stay home and watch ESPN instead. But is that the message Chelan County wants to give to it’s residents?

Thank you for taking the time to understand my concerns and I do hope you will be willing to explore the alternatives to chip sealing.

Laura Valaas

Feel free to copy and paste my message to Jolene and Keith also (addresses above) even if you’re not local… first one road, then the entire WORLD.

(This Message was brought to you by the friendly folk at Plain Hardware.)

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Changes at Skaði!

"Skaði Hunting in the Mountains" by H.L.M.
“Skaði Hunting in the Mountains” by H.L.M.

Ideally one would get everything perfect at the first try. Sometimes, however, the first choice isn’t quite right.

Even though Skaði only began in 2009, by spring of 2010 we had started to outgrow our old business name. It failed to capture our passion for skiing, our originality, and our respect for the sport. Rather than trying to mold and suppress the company to fit the old name, we have chosen to rebrand the company as Skaði.

Skaði is a goddess from Norse mythology. We’ll have more the say about the mythological figure of Skaði later. For now, we want to express how thrilled we are to have found a name and an icon that we can draw on for inspiration and for strength. The skier Skaði is mysterious enough that today’s skiers can re-imagine her to be whatever they need her to be while being firmly rooted in Norse mythology and the history of skiing. We hope to honor her past while bringing her forward and into the awareness of the modern skiing community.


On a personal note, I have this to say:

Researching 13th century literature?

Like! Like! Love!

If only the rest of the world shared the same interested I do… then nothing of any material value would ever be accomplished. Wait, maybe that’s not such a good thing. But, we’d all be healthy athletic scholars!

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Skaði Contest!

I have cajoled and bullied & pleaded and finally… Skaði is having a contest! I know, it’s only July, but July is the best time to getting ready for season and what’s the best way to prepare? rollerskiing? nope. Pull-ups? no way. Earning free gear for your team? Of course!

Skaði wants to support youth oriented cross country ski teams in their pursuit of skiing education, fun & excellence and invites all such teams to fill out a simple application to let Skaði know that you exist & are interested in winning free products. The main portion of the application is a Creative Response to the question, “Why we want BootBuddies.” Creative Response means it can be in just about any format. And that, my friends, is one of the easiest questions you’ll ever be assigned. (I could quote some of my essay topics from college theology classes to prove that point but then everyone would stop reading…) There are two deadlines, August 31st for teams who are proactive and functioning during the summer and December 31st for teams who need to get some skiing before they start thinking about these sorts of things.

So, download the Skaði Contest Application! (in editable pdf format.)

If you know of any deserving ski teams, please let them know about this contest & encourage them to apply.

If you have any other questions, please email me at laura (at) Skaði (dot) com. You can also request a paper application to be mailed to you/your team by providing me with a mailing address.

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I went through four cans of diet coke today. AND I went for a short hike in the morning with my C.A. and Ginger so I didn’t even get started in on the diet coke until the afternoon. Why? Because I’ve been working on a computer all day, frustrated because my competency at set task is way below where I would like it to be. It’s hard. I don’t get it. I have to figure it out. All of which leads to very frequent episodes of get up and get myself a diet coke. It’s an unwanted repeat of study sessions in college when I would sit down to work a math problem, realize I was hopelessly in over my head and pursue some task that would, so I rationalized, assist my mental abilities.

It never worked in college either.

And I think my blood diet coke content is above the legal limit.

Yes, I know there are those of you out there who throw back four diet cokes before breakfast.

I can only aspire.

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Welcome to the new!

In reflection of my recent de-centralization of cross country skiing from my life, I have decided to recreate my website as a much less ski-focused place for me to write, ponder, post pictures & generally stake out my small homestead in the wide world of the web. For those wishing to reminisce, the classic archives are still available for your referencing under the “Past” tab. You even get to view them in the old formatting.

Speaking of my old formatting, I have to give a major round of applause to Mr. Alan Schmitz for creating a website back in 2006 that was able to take me through four years of blogging and to Miss Rebecca Jensen for creating a banner that I like enough to never change. Until now, of course. Now I just want to be a little more well-rounded and not be committed to a single theme. (Not that I didn’t do my share of off-topics when I was ski-focused.) I also want to express my appreciation for all the people who have encouraged me along my way, whichever way it happened to be.

So, without further ado, I welcome you, the few who have checked back in after my very dedicated attempt to shed all readers, to the new, at-least-different-if-not-improved… Miscellaneous Blog of Laura.

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As long as I have been skiing, I have been irked by CONSTANTLY (especially here in the heavy, wet snow of the Pacific Northwest) digging snow out from the bottom of my ski boots. Furthermore, every time I have to scrape out the ever-growing snowballs, the pole tip inevitably scratches the bottom of the boot which makes future snow more likely to bond to it. Having to do this every time I go skiing (and have to walk across snow before actually clipping into the skis) adds up to a lot of wasted time. So, I have introduced the BootBuddy! The BootBuddy is a nifty gadget to clip into the bottom of your ski boot whenever you’re in ski boots but not in skis. It saves your boot soles from wearing down AND keeps the snow from building up there. hurray!

Imagining, refining, prototyping, testing, perfecting, and finally producing a finished product has been a wonderful, challenging & fulfilling pursuit. I have been so pleased to be able to turn one of my complaints into a solution and to be able to bring that solution to the entire Nordic skiing community.

Designing and bringing new, innovative cross country skiing products to other skiers who, like me, are looking for a better way to do things, is currently my full-time pursuit. The second product from SkiTraxx is the BootMate– the best way to carry and store your cross country ski boots. My goal in making these (and other!) products available for skiers is the make cross country skiing more convenient, more fun, and more accessorizeable for all skiers. (I am also happy to be able to manufacture SkiTraxx products 100% in the USA out of recycled materials!)

More information can be found at

BootBuddy in nordic ski boot, cross sectional view

BootBuddy in nordic ski boot, cross sectional view

Ski Boots in BootMate hanging on the BootDock

Ski Boots in BootMate hanging on the BootDock


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