InterviewsNewsMaster Skier Dan Karig

FasterSkier FasterSkierAugust 22, 2003

Dan Karig was a 2003 Masters National Champion in the M8 age class.


Age: 66
Height: Age has shrunken me to 5'  6 1/2"
Weight:  130+ (but much plus)
Single or married: married
Hometown: Ithaca, NY, I guess. I've lived here now over 25 years, but I still
think I'm a Californian-from La Cañada, the same town Dick Hunt calls his
hometown-but he lies
Current town of residence: Ithaca
Occupation: retired geology professor
Coach: Torbjørn, when I have one, but I'm mostly on my own

Sponsors:
HA! Well: last year I skied both for TorbjornSport and for Salmon
Hills XC Ski Area
Favorite movies: I basically hate movies, but ones I did like was "The
man who would be king" and "Amadeus".  I just saw "Winged
Migration" and thought the photography was amazing
Favorite food: I'm more the "eat to live" type than the "live
to eat" sort. Fresh steamed crab ain't bad, especially if it comes with just-picked
sweet corn. We grow most of our own vegetables and today it's fresh peas with
new potatoes and broccoli. We eat what's ripe.

If you had to eat lunch at a fast-food restaurant, where would you go and
what would you order?

First I'd go to the men's room because that's about
all I ever use fast food places for. If the hypothetical question had to be answered
(I really can't), it'd be the first one I came to and maybe I'd get a fishburger.

Did you take a vacation after this past race season ended?
As soon as the ski season ends I get in my canoe and start practicing for the
summer marathon race season, but each spring I go to Canada for a week's worth
of whitewater canoeing . We also go to the Caribbean (usually Bonaire) every summer
for a week of diving and snorkeling-it's my wife's idea of a vacation. Actually,
having gone to Austria, Norway, and Alaska for ski races this winter I was sort
of vacationed out.

Do you have any notable experience from any other sport?
As implied above, I got suckered into marathon canoe racing about 5 years ago.
I like paddling and doing it at a race level has definitely helped my upper
body endurance strength for skiing. The danger is letting it detract (seriously)
from training for skiing. Oh; notable experience- well; I was one of a pair
that won the Nationals in C-2 (tandem)  for our age class 3 years ago when
we were near the young end of the 60-69 yr olds. Last year I was 9th in the
C-1 (solo) at the nationals but this was a great surprise because it was the
first time I had ever raced one of those extremely tippy devils and it put me
in the top third of the competitors, none of whom were slouches.

Where is your favorite place to ski?
One of my favorite places to ski is Salmon Hills, on the Tug Hill plateau. Not
only are the snow conditions some of the best in the east but the trails have
great character and rhythm and are very well maintained.  It's fun to race
there.

Where is your favorite place to race?
Great places I have raced, for different reasons, include Sugarloaf in Maine,
The Birkebeiner trail in Norway(for the challenge) and Lake Placid for some
of the downhills (another challenge).

Where is your favorite place to train?
I guess my favorite place to train is Hammond Hill, which is 15 minutes
from my house and on which I maintain a 5 k loop. It isn't the best but it sure
is handy.

Why do you enjoy being a ski racer?
I have the perspective of age and it probably differs from that of the younger
set in some respects. In common with the younger set I love the freedom of motion
that comes with skiing as well as the satisfaction of muscular exertion that
comes with cross country skiing. Racing is still a competitive challenge but
it is also a great way to stay in shape and to socialize with like-minded idiots.
   We older geezers enjoy racing because it takes our mind off dying.
Or put a little less starkly, at 65+ one's perspective is more towards maintaining
fitness or at least delaying the inevitable. Every day we read that exercise
is one of the most important components of health. In addition to combating
the decrease in muscle/fat ratio, exercise is touted as reducing cancers, diabetes,
you name it- maybe even hair loss! BUT; it's awful boring just sitting on a
stationary bike or even lifting weights. Participating in competitive sports
gives me the motivation to do these things and to derive more satisfaction from
them. I'm sure I would semi-vegetate if I didn't have competitive sports to
keep me fit-and what better sport is there to keep fit but cross country skiing?

What part of being a ski racer don't you enjoy?
I guess the only part of ski racing I don't enjoy is the driving it takes to
get to most of the races. Maintaining equipment is sometimes a necessary evil
but it's not that bad.

If you weren't a ski racer, what would you be doing?
If I quit racing seriously, which I may soon do, I would get more into coaching
and helping the younger skiers around here in various ways. I think that is
the least I could do to repay the sport for what it has done for me. What would
I be doing if I hadn't gotten into ski racing? Probably doing something else
outside and competitive.

What do you do to pass the time when you are on the road at races and training
camps?
There doesn't seem to be much time to pass after I getting the waxing of
several pairs of skis out of the way-  and eat and sleep. At major races,
where one spends several days to a week I try to learn something about the local
scene, especially if it's foreign or new to me.

What were your best or most memorable races last season? 

My most memorable
was the 15k classic at the World Masters Champs in Seefeld.  The course
had some challenging hills, both up and down, and I felt that I had them mastered
during practice. The mass start was worrisome because at the end of the stadium
area the course sharply narrowed, turned hard left and then dropped down a steep
hill – bound to cause pile-ups (which it did).  I decided that, with my
canoe-trained double poling prowess, I'd take off like a rocket and avoid the
mess.
  That I did and at the end of the stadium I realized I was well out in
front. I wasn't eager to lead so I dropped back and tucked into second or so,
but for the first 7 km I was right in the lead pack and totally psyched. I had
never been with the leaders at the Worlds and I was feeling good – waiting for
the hills, which were just ahead.
   Up the first steep climb I became painfully aware that my wax was
not up to the job (in retrospect it was too thin for the stiffness of my skis).
All I could do was herringbone and double-pole and I lost lots of time. On the
rolling terrain after the hill section I was able to catch up to the number
three racer, but I lost it again on the 2 steep hills just before the finish
and lost 20+ seconds. I'll probably never do so well again and realize that
I'd better learn more about waxing.
  My best race of the season was the( shortened) 10k classic at the Nationals
in Alaska. This time Jack Hart of Swix waxed my skis and they were like glue
on the hills. I beat Dick Mize for the first time ever  (undoubtedly because
he hadn't been able to train very well last winter) and was only 30 seconds
slower than Bob Gray (who is fortunately in a younger class at the moment).

How do you deal with bad races?

I find an excuse! No; I try to see if there is a reason that can be worked on
and then I try to forget it. That's an absolute necessity because I have lots
of bad races.

What are your racing goals for the upcoming season?
Not nearly as high as
last year because I'll no longer be the youngest in my class and the World Masters'
will be in Norway, which means that all the good Norgies will come out of the
bushes and dominate. My realistic goal is to beat the two guys who finished
just in front of me this year. It might also be nice to win the overall championships
in the Masters Nationals-before Gray gets back into my age class!

How do you feel about the changes in the international race formats over the
past few years?

As one who ain't the greatest skater and who is too old to sprint I hope that
things don't change (too much) for us older racers before I give up. The one
thing I read with dismay (in Faster Skier?) was the prediction by Alsgaard that
the classic style will disappear in the near future. I first thought that such
a thing couldn't happen, but it did in biathlon. It would be a real shame if
races in the classic style did disappear.
  On the other hand, changes that would increase the appeal of our sport
for the viewer must be carefully considered. What might be best from the racers'
perspective may not be best for the sport-and for them in terms of support.
Mass starts and the duathlon  seem to be positive changes and I suppose
sprints are too, even if they aren't my bag.

What changes will you be making to your training plan for this year?

No major changes; I'll try to continue to work on technique, and to make sure
that my VO2 Max is "maximized" , which means not shying away from
intervals

Do you have a favorite interval or hard workout?

It's hard to call any interval
a favorite but one that seems satisfying is a double pole session up a gentle
to moderate road (snow-covered) almost a mile long. I do this 3-4 times and
it takes me 10+ minutes going up. My HR reaches well into level 4  but
because only smaller muscles are involved it clearly generates lots of lactate
in the arms. I don't do this too often, but it's preceded by weekly 2 hr arms-only
sessions on roller skis (with hills)-mostly after the canoe races are over

What was your most memorable workout(s) last year?
I tend to forget them as fast as possible. Those hills with arms only are certainly
memorable,if not the most memorable.

Can you give us a single piece of advice for aspiring Junior skiers?

I'm
so far from the Junior level that it's hard to see things from their perspective.
My advice to older masters is to continue working on technique, which is pretty
bad in general.

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