Forget wrangling over curricula and departmental budgets—Colby College President William D. “Bro” Adams had some real problems to contend with this weekend.
Namely, his pair of Peltonen classic skis, which were not cooperating with some tricky snow conditions as Adams made his way around a 2-kilometer loop at the Quarry Road recreation area in Waterville, Maine.
“I think we missed the wax a little bit,” Adams said.
As the ceremonial forerunner for the first-ever collegiate competition at his school’s new home trail system on Saturday, Adams was a Colby White Mule without kick. But the spandex-clad 65-year-old didn’t let that—or a less-than-presidential pair of ski boots—diminish his enthusiasm for the event.
“We had a great time,” he said in phone interview Sunday night. “It was a big-time scene, and seeing all those skiers, and all that excellence, in this little place right nearby—it was really thrilling.”
As for his athletic endeavors on Saturday, Adams’ plight was made somewhat more manageable by the fact that his forerunning companion—Colby ski coach Tracey Cote—was also grappling with some recalcitrant equipment.
She had grabbed the wrong pair of skis, and consequently had even less purchase on the climbs than Adams.
“Bro was just killing me on the uphills,” she said.
Adams, who raced cross-country at his New Hampshire high school, maintained that his pace was not testing Cote’s fitness. Nonetheless, he added, the crowd enjoyed watching.
“There seemed to be pleasure that I was out there—I know it meant a lot to the Colby team,” he said.
Despite the waxing problems, Adams said that the Colby coaching staff did not have to worry about its job security.
“If I was racing, I might have been upset, but I wasn’t racing,” he said.
One thing he would change, however, was his pair of ski boots, which broke as he was putting them on and had to be held together with duct tape.
Cote said that the event organizers also had learned a few lessons from the first set of races run on the new trail system—some snowmaking problems cropped up, as well as a few injuries, including one that left Colby’s top male skier with a broken finger.
“We’re kind of questioning some things, but until you run races, you don’t know where the issues are,” Cote said. “I think things will only get better from here.”
Adams’ performance, though, will be tough to top.
“To have a college president put on a full spandex suit and ski a course is just crazy,” Cote said. “He’s just an amazing guy—I’m really impressed.”
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.