Skiing is Still Awesome: A Citizen Racer’s Essay

FasterSkierJune 29, 2010

Patrick Stinson is an avid reader who was born and raised in Alaska. Fanatical about living life to the fullest, he left a solid music software writing job to travel, explore, and train for skiing for a year. Included below is a short bit that he wrote (over Thanksgiving in West Yellowstone) describing his pursuit. is excited to share with its readers another side of skiing in this short essay.

Patrick Stinson, Holly, and Rob, taking a run along the AK shore in their OIA tights

So I left my job and jumped in an ’84 Vanagon with my buddy Lee and drove the Alaska Highway from Alaska to the Continental USA in August for a year of 100% pure, cold-filtered, Tapped-From-The-Rockies skiing freedom. Free of all professional (and romantic) ties, I hit the road in search of endorphins and thin air, nothing but workouts and sudden losses of altitude; nordic skiing, tele skiing, roller skiing, you name it. It was going to be the Fall of all Falls; running shoes, hiking boots, camping gear, tele gear, heart-rate monitor, and roller-skis included. Living life to the fullest was WAY more important than that career path. I had an awesome job and I busted my tail to get to this point in life and start saving up funds, but it wasn’t good enough to just top there and call it good. (I still work part time on my laptop….)

So to put it lightly, workouts quickly became an integral part of the daily grind. My Vanagon caught fire halfway down the Alaska Highway, so I threw on my running shoes and hammered the nearest road incline a few times to get over it the emotional trauma of losing my vehicle. Finally after regaining myself after the fire, and arriving in Washington (via Greyhound…ughhh!) I noticed a development neighborhood from the highway in Washington, and I put down some phat downhill jib action on my skate rollerskis. Life’s about rolling with the punches, for sure. Later on, a borrowed set of V2 Aeros (thanks Casey) carried me to a 5 hour workout in horrific dust storms and clouds of art cars and crazy people at Burning Man in the ancient lake-bed of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. And after all this, I flew back up to Alaska to participate in The Klondike Road Relay (the coolest running relay race around, in SE Alaska) was there as always to greet a loyal “Peeber” back to the Yukon like a beat-up can of PBR in the bed of your pickup.

Upon traveling to Europe, I discovered that you can rollerski from the heart of Oslo through leather-clad and dutifully civilized Norrona shoppers all the way out to the farmlands of Maridalen and Sorkedalen. There you’ll find excellent rollerskiing mixed right in with members of the current national team and community of aging heavy-hitters just out for a laugh, and regular public transport to drag you home. (Here I was, just some recreational skier, out doing double pole intervals with these Norweigian national team guys! Talk about awesome! ….and it’s still awesome! If you head to South-West Ireland’s incredible County Kerry, the delightfully ignorant locals will slow their Billy Idol-era diesel Rabbits to send out their cheers with “Ar’ ye maaad baye? Huh Haaaa! That’s absoluteley graaaand! Keep it up, ye be t’ere in a blink’uv’an’eye!” How else would you be able to report to your friends that south-west Ireland has got some of the best and most beautiful (not to mention cliff-side) rollerskiing around? And by the way, strapping your tourist camera to your water bottle holder with duct tape for memories and combined with Thanksgiving makes hiking workouts even more FUN!

Before the Europe trip I asked my good friend Sally Johnson and some others if it was weird to go on such a big trip just to drive around in a rental car and work out every day. “Heck no” said Sally. “Go for it!” said my buddy Tor. “Dude, that’s totally siiiiiiick” said my bruther-from-another-muther Lee. Well, standing there at the western-most point in Europe with the world’s most excellent natural drugs pumping through my body I knew they were right,…. all of them. Bounding intervals laced with warm mid-day rain and Irish rainbows lighting up the cliffs and pub-saturated hills in the distance don’t exactly make a boring pre-dinner tourist activity.

As I write this within the familiar comfort of the Rockies and watched the Fall come to a screeching halt in West Yellowstone on Monday night, I look back at the best ‘Fall’ a free nordic skier could ask for, am still in the best shape I’ve ever been, and have no regrets. None. Nadda.

And you know what? After all that my old computer company employer offered me a way better deal, one that will make shredding all that sick gnar even sweeter this winter.

Have a happy winter, and don’t forget to follow your instincts……. life’s too short.



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