Cross-country skiers and country music singers don’t have a whole lot in common, but just like Garth Brooks, CXC’s Garrott Kuzzy has got friends in low places.
After meeting Kuzzy at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, Australian National Team Coach Finn Marsland invited Kuzzy Down Under for some training and racing at the Falls Creek resort.
Kuzzy arrived in Australia last Wednesday, and has already competed in the country’s national championships in the 10 k classic and 15 k freestyle, placing fifth and second, respectively.
“I’ve never skied in the summer time before, so this has always been on my bucket list,” said Kuzzy in an interview from Falls Creek.
Last month, Kuzzy said, he received an e-mail from Marsland offering to provide lodging and race entries into the national championships, as well as the upcoming 42-kilometer Kangaroo Hoppet. All Kuzzy had to do was find himself a cheap plane ticket.
“It sounded like a sweet opportunity to me,” he said. “I’m pretty much just paying what I’d be paying to be living back in Hayward [Wisconsin], right now.”
There was no easy transition into winter—reached on Friday, Kuzzy said that it had been “dumping snow” since he’d arrived in Falls Creek.
After the national championship races on Saturday and Sunday, Kuzzy said he plans to put in some volume before contesting the Hoppet this upcoming weekend. He’s expecting stiff competition—entrants include another pair of Olympians in Australian Ben Sim and Swiss skier Valerio Leccardi
“One thing I really want to be working on this year is my mass start, marathon-type races,” Kuzzy said. “This is a perfect opportunity to jump in with a solid field of guys.”
If the skiing stays good, Kuzzy said he’ll put in a few more days of training after the Hoppet. That choice could include a pub-to-pub race in the Perisher Valley, which entails stops at five watering holes and which Sim has won three years running. Other options include heading down to the coast for some sightseeing and some surfing in Melbourne.
Kuzzy isn’t the only American who has traveled to Australia in search of summer snow—APU’s Bobby Miller has also been staying and staying in Falls Creek, and former Olympic biathlete and cross-country skier Sarah Konrad is on the Hoppet start list.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.