A National Ranking List for Masters….Who is fit over 40 and why?

FasterSkierJuly 3, 2003

This is meant to, among other things, be an attempt to start categorizing and
recognizing those skiers who are really fit over the age of 40 (or maybe I should
start at age 30?). I’m taking about skiers in the category that are not
gunning for Olympic or National team status. It would be nice if someone representing
US masters would take these ideas and develop some kind of nation wide point
system and come up with an age group list. John Downing (AXCS Director) –
are you ready for this?

Getting all the best skiers together for Masters Nationals seems, at this point,
unrealistic due to the travel involved. I went to the last five Masters Nationals
and felt that some of the better skiers were there, but not everyone. But maybe
if there was a real reason to go there – the big carrot – we could get all the
best to come! What about giving everyone points based upon your time behind
the winner when you participated in the American Ski Marathon events? Age need
to be factored in so someone age 55 or 60 could get the same points as a 40
year-old if the performance was of equal quality. Each five-year age group could
maybe get 5-10 seconds per 3 minutes of race time credit?

Finals at Masters Nationals
If everyone could accumulate points by participating in races around the country
then Master Nationals could be the final that ultimately decides the winners
of each age category! I believe that this could really boost the interest for
Masters Nationals and make this into a true national championship – The
Ryder’s Cup of master skiing.It could become an international event –
The XC Super Bowl!

For my own sake I would like to see shorter races that could count as point
races. Maybe designate some half marathons or even 5-15K events into point races
so it’s not all marathon events. I also think it should be a mix of classic
and skate events. Right now there are way to many skate races. Classic will
soon be forgotten in the US! In Norway it’s opposite – most of the
big events are classic.

I have taken an interest in doing this since the younger age categories have
their ranking list based upon FIS point and there is no one ranking or caring
about us – the real studs and studetts. We might be getting old but we are still
tough as nails – right? And we all want to know how tough we are compared
to the ultra-fit ones in our age groups, and who are they?

Who are the fit ones?

I apologize for mostly listing people I personally know, but this is meant to
be a way for our readers to get involved and send us names of appropriate candidates.
Nominating yourself is acceptable if you think you qualify.

In the 40-44 year-old men’s category two-time Olympian, National and NCAA
champion John Aalberg will be the man to beat. 1 second from winning the Boulder
Mountain Tour despite braking a pole, loosing a handle and sprinting with one
short and one long pole.
Other candidates: Kent Murdoch, WA, and Berry Makarewicz, Utah.

John Aalberg can still keep up with elite skiers like Bente Skari (and most
of the men)

In the 45-49 categories three-time Olympian John Engen is my candidate. Right
on Aalberg's tail at the Boulder and always tough in the marathons where even
the young Olympic caliber skiers have a tough time beating him. Other candidates
in this age group would be Alaskan Audun Endestad, however we don’t see
him in many races anymore but he was shining in last years Tour of Anchorage.
Other names: Mark Hollinger, MT

Age 50-54. Chris Ransom – Two- time 24-hours of Telemark winner, National
and World Master Champion
Other names: There is some very fit college coaches out there in various age
categories however they compete only rarely.
Example: Former US Ski Team member Bruce Cramner, the University of Boulder,
Colorado coach. His best skiers have to concentrate to keep up with him in intervals
and time-trials!

Close to 40 or a little above: Kelly Milligan, Docus Wonsavage, Nancy Fiddler,
Muffy Ritz – all skiers that have recently showed up at the regular US Nationals
and beat most college skiers. Kelly was 4th in two races at last years US Nationals!

Other age groups
Send us ideas!

How do they do it?
One thing they all have in common is that they live healthy lifestyles. Their
weight is the same as when they were in their prime and the body fat is kept
to a minimum – Gut – no glory! I doubt that neither Aalberg nor
Engen’s body fat is above 6% – that’s comparable to fit World Cup
skiers! As my friend Gordon Lange said about Bruce Cramner: "Torbjorn,
this guy can kayak – all day down in The Grand Canyon and when the day is over
he drinks some water and eats a prune"

How can you beat them?
Well start training – every day, year round. Rollerski, bike, run and
ski – these guys are not waiting until the fall to get started. Distance,
intervals, weights and time-trials are all on their year-round menu. They are
in shape all year and never let up – much from when they were on top in
the Nation. Can they be beaten? Sure, but it takes dedicated training over many
years, a certain portion of talent and years of racing.

So what are you waiting for?


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