Anette Bøe has led a life filled with innovation and adventure.
The Norwegian skier was the first woman on the international racing circuit to venture into the realm of skate skiing in 1984 despite a Norwegian distaste for the new technique.
When she retired from professional skiing, she decided she wanted to try a new sport in order to “cool-down” and in the process earned a podium finish in the inaugural year of the mountain bike World Cup in 1989.
She didn’t stop there. Fulfilling a childhood desire to play hockey, Bøe joined a professional team where she earned two Norwegian national championships.
According to Bøe, her adventurous nature can be traced back to her hometown of Larvik, Norway.
“It was a very active, small town and I was very lucky to grow up in that kind of community,” she said in a phone interview. “When we came back from school we were always on skates or skis.”
In addition to the active environment she grew up in, Bøe attributed her entry and drive in nordic skiing to her father Albert. Before Bøe was born, Albert attended the University of Denver as one of the first Norwegians to receive a ski scholarship, under famed coach Willy Shaeffler.
Bøe was born in 1957 and from then on her father used his experiences as a ski racer to ensure his daughter shared his love for the sport.
“I think he had a plan with me because he loved cross-country skiing,” she said.
With guidance from her father throughout her developmental years, Bøe had dreams of becoming the best skier in the world, despite disapproval of such ambitions at the time.
“It sounds crazy, but in the old days you couldn’t say that to anyone,” Bøe said of her aspirations. “Now it’s open. You can say that to anyone you want to, but in the old days you couldn’t say ‘I have a goal to be the best skier in the world.’”
Her drive to succeed lasted well into the peak of her skiing career. In the 1980s she was training in St. Moritz, Switzerland where she interacted with many international teams and broadened her horizons outside of the often-isolated Norwegian team.
Because of her familiarity with international teams such as the U.S. Ski Team, Bøe experienced the new technique of skating very early on in its conception.
Bøe was selected for the Norwegian Olympic team in 1984, but despite winning a trial race, she was not picked to compete. She watched from the sidelines as skiers like Bill Koch used skating to their advantage. Later that season, Bøe followed suit and made the decision to abandon the kick wax on her skis, making her the first woman to skate on the international circuit.
“No one on the girls side of the Olympics was skating but then I picked it up in the end of 1984 at the last ski race,” Bøe explained. “I took off the wax and I skated. I’m actually the first woman in the world to be skating without wax (on the international racing scene).”
By 1985, Bøe had fully embraced the skating technique and earned two gold medals at the World Championships in Seefeld, Austria in addition to two other podium finishes. Later that year she was crowned the Overall World Cup Champion.
Bøe also won the prestigious Holmenkollen Medal in 1985, Norway’s highest honor in in skiing.
For the Norwegian, the creation of skating represented a new era not only for her but also for nordic skiing as a whole.
“I think it was really good for cross country skiing when the skating came because everybody had a new chance,” she said.
She pointed to the U.S. Ski Team as an example, saying that the innovative use of skate skiing opened the door for skiers like Bill Koch and Kikkan Randall to shine on the international stage and grow the sport outside the realms of Scandinavia.
According to Bøe, the Norwegian national team was reluctant to embrace the new technique and suffered the consequences. She said she was fortunate to be training in St. Moritz at the time, so that she could practice the technique.
“The Norwegians were in the back yard and all the other nations were in the front because they picked it up pretty quick,” she said. “We lost a generation in Norway of skaters because they were old-fashioned.
“I was lucky to be in the right spot, in the right time and be open to changes. Every day being an athlete you need to find new ways.”
Bøe retired from her cross country skiing World Cup career in 1989, but knew she still needed sport in her life.
During her first of many visits to America Bøe witnessed mountain biking for the first time, and was inclined to try it.
“I was lucky because I have always been adventurous and wanted to do new things,” she said on her entrance into the new sport.
By the end of 1989 Bøe had participated in the inaugural year of the mountain biking World Cup and took third place in a cross country style race, making her one of the first women in the world to earn a World Cup podium in mountain biking.
By the early 1990s she was finished with bike racing, but her ventures into new realms of athleticism were far from over.
During her career as a skier, Bøe had an encounter with a Norwegian women’s hockey team. Having always been intrigued by hockey from a young age, Bøe talked with the team. After her conversation she walked away thinking that as soon as she retired from skiing she would play hockey.
Once her skiing career ended, Bøe did just that. She joined a local team and in the 1990s she and her teammates won two Norwegian national championships.
In 2000 she was awarded the Honorary Prize of Egeber, a distinction bestowed on Norwegian athletes who excel in more than one sport, for her accomplishments in cross country skiing and hockey.
Bøe found her experience as a hockey player very rewarding, not only because of her successes but also because of the team dynamic she discovered while competing on ice.
“When I was a cross country skier I would always ski by myself and I was always depending on me,” she said. “But when you are on a team and depending on the team to play together, it’s totally another ball game. For me it was good, it was very interesting.”
Since Bøe’s departure from professional competition, she has filled her time with a variety of endeavors. She’s worked in the Norwegian television and radio industry, as a manager for an ice hockey team, and as a packager for athletic firms and Olympic sponsors.
One of her favorite projects is the ski school that she created ten years ago.
“That’s giving me a lot because it’s nice to give something back to the sport,” Bøe said of her ski school. “I see people getting happy when they break the code; when they feel all their body weight is on one ski and they can kick and glide with total body control on the skis.”
However, now that the 56-year-old has more time on her hands she thinks she might be ready for a change. At the movement, Bøe sees that change as a move to the U.S.
Intrigued by her father’s stories of America as a young girl, Bøe always found the U.S. very attractive. On top of that, two of her children will be living in the country in the coming year: her oldest daughter, Thea, graduated from the University of Denver in 2013 and is still living in Colorado, while her youngest son, Oliver, will be attending a boarding school in Boston this coming year.
Bøe has been searching for work in the U.S. but can only commit to a year due to uncertainly of whether her youngest son will stay stateside. Earlier this year, Bøe had secured a job in Massachusetts but due to her sister’s illness she was forced to decline.
Much like many other accomplished foreign skiers in the country, Bøe envisions herself as a possible coach or public figure in the U.S. cross country skiing community.
“I like to give something back (to others) what the sport gave to me,” she said.
Whatever lies ahead for the 1985 Overall World Cup Champion, her ability to take advantage of her surroundings will likely ensure that her future is just as innovative as her past.
Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.