Note: One thing we feel has been lacking on this continent is in-depth
coverage of ski racing. We think it would be valuable for all interested
skiers to hear more about Continental Cup races, ski marathons, Nationals,
even local races, etc. Sure you can get results for these races many places
(including this website), but we also want to bring you the story of the
races – not just who won but what really happened, the inside scoop on
training camps, the whole xc ski racing experience. There is so much more
to it than race results. To that end, we now introduce a new column written
by an full-time ski racer who is traveling to all the major races and
will offer a glimpse into the life of an xc ski racer. Ladies and Gentlemen,
we introduce Tim Woodbury…
Skiers and thanks for checking out my new column!
My name is Tim Woodbury and I am a 23-year-old ski racer from Sullivan,
NH and I’m thrilled that FasterSkier.com has asked me to share my
experiences with you.
This spring I finished up a Masters degree at the University of New Hampshire
and had to, from the perspective of a young twenty-something, make a pretty
big life decision. Should I get a job that is my primary concern or should
I attempt to make it as a ski racer? I had many sleepless nights thinking
about the pros and cons of either decision. I finally came upon some great
advice. The opportunity to travel around the country, meet great people,
and spend days skiing or training outdoors is something that many people
work very hard in order to do during their well earned retirements or
vacations. Not taking the opportunity to do this would be just ridiculous.
So here I am getting my first taste of life as a full time ski racer.
I am a member of the MWSC (Maine Winter Sports Center) team, which is
based out of northern Maine and I’ll also be racing for Rossignol
ski company. I’ve spent the summer and fall training under the guidance
of MWSC coach Eli Brown and have already been to Fairbanks, AK for an
early season ski camp as well as the first round of Nor-Am races. I just
spent a couple of weeks in Silver Star, BC before heading to West Yellowstone
for their early snow ski camps and the second round of Nor-Am races. I’m
very excited about being able to share reports, stories, and (oh no!)
my opinions as I attempt to piece together a career as a ski racer.
Thanks for your interest. Look for my updates here at FasterSkier.com.
Yellowstone and Back Again….
Last Sunday I left my relaxing surroundings at Silverstar Mountain, BC,
and headed for West Yellowstone Montana for the cross-country ski spectacle
that happens there most years around Thanksgiving time. I had spent two
weeks training in Silverstar and had grown to like my routine of breakfast,
skiing, lunch, nap, skiing, perhaps some reading, dinner, a little Canadian
TV, and sleep. But the second round of continental cup races and sponsorship
commitments forced us to hop in the car and hit the road.
Yellowstone, Montana proved to be a very exciting stop on my schedule.
I stayed with one of my sponsors, Team Rossignol, which was holding their
yearly early season camp. West Yellowstone is used by many groups, such
as Team Rossignol, as a time to get to know new teammates, get some good
on snow training in, and learn the merits and latest achievements of many
of our equipment sponsors. The week was a blur of equipment education
meetings, photo shoots, waxing clinics, and haphazard training sessions.
It also seems that this week was designated as a reconvening of good friends
that have been in semi-hibernation for the summer. At every restaurant,
ski shop, expo tent, and trail intersection I found familiar faces. The
town is quite literally packed with a good portion of the north American
nordic skiing community. If you enjoy skiing and want to be around others
that love the sport, then an early season ski week in West Yellowstone
should definitely be on your to do list.
The races: I hope to write a little about my racing experiences in this
column. Most times I think I’ll leave the reporting to others, yet
if I have interesting information from the races that is not found elsewhere
than I will share it with you.
The weekend’s races were definitely a learning experience for me.
Racing at altitude after a long week of meetings and other commitments
was tough. Friday’s 10 km classic was an extremely painful experience
full of lactic acid that left my vision blurred and body aching. It wasn’t
until two cherry cokes and a large calzone later that I could begin to
piece together exactly what had happened. If skiing could possibly kill
brain cells than it happened to me somewhere between the 7km mark and
the finish line.
The sprint course started fast and then tested the strength of the racers
with a grind into the finish. I managed to finish the exact same place
as the day before which was a bit eerie. Sprint racing can either make
for a very long day or a very short day. I opted for the very short option
by missing the top 16 cut in the morning’s preliminary time trial.
I believe the saying “next time” would fit well here.
The afternoon’s knockout rounds turned out to be quite exciting.
The eventual winners were David Chamberlain and Kikkan Randal who
both were victorious after many rounds of close racing and exciting performances
from many of the racers. “The Down East Machine” David Chamberlain
reported that his good form can be attributed to “a solid fall of
training with the Maine Winter Sports Center team and some fast skis.”
Sometime during the afternoon Dave mentioned to me that his competition
in the next round was quite tough. I reminded him that he too is a “Scary
man!” and in the finals he certainly took on this look. After Chamberlain
and Randal’s wins I’d like to give top honors to Lars Flora,
Colin Mahood, and Aelin Peterson for adding to the excitement of the day.
Flora looked very strong all day long and was just barely beaten out in
the finals by Chamberlain in an exciting lunge for the line. Mahood advanced
through both the quarterfinals and the semifinals with strong drives down
the finishing stretch that both resulted in his advancing through photo
finish calls. Lastly, Aelin Peterson showed great resolve by picking herself
up and continuing to the finish line after one of the most spectacular
and down right brutal looking crashes I’ve ever witnessed in ski
racing. I believe she managed a full flip in the crash and I’m baffled
how all of her equipment came out of it intact.
Now I’m back in Silverstar. A long drive, interrupted only by some
very good Mexican food in Spokane at Rancho Chico, got me back to this
“whoville” like ski town with it’s tall skinny pines and
pastel colored homes. Perhaps the Grinch himself is a skiing enthusiast.
Things around here have gone Christmas crazy while I’ve been gone.
These Canucks certainly love their holidays! The races here begin on Thursday
so look for more reports from the road soon after. If you’re lucky
enough to have snow, cherish it! And if you don’t, I feel your pain.