Busy times call for pointed questions. We caught up with Reese Hanneman, the men’s SuperTour leader from last season — which earned him World Cup starts this November and December — shortly after he arrived in Muonio, Finland, 11 time zones away from his home in Anchorage, Alaska.
To get there, Hanneman, an Alaska Pacific University (APU) skier who turns 25 on Christmas, had layovers in Seattle, Reykjavík (Iceland), Oslo (Norway), and Helsinki (Finland) before finally arriving in Rovaniemi — about three hours south of Muonio by car.
“I had to pay baggage fees for my three bags twice because they said they couldn’t print that many connections on the bag tags, which I think was bogus,” Hanneman wrote in an email.
But the defending classic-sprint national champion (who podiumed in all four events at 2014 U.S. nationals) made it and has been training on snow to prep for the first official races of the season next weekend in Kuusamo, Finland. Hanneman spent most of last March in Europe and finished the 2013/2014 season (with the exception of Super Tour Finals) on the World Cup circuit, racing in Lahti, Finland; Drammen, Norway; Holmenkollen in Oslo; and Falun, Sweden, at World Cup Finals.
1. What’s one essential you packed for the next couple months in Europe?
“Hot sauce; I’ve got a full bottle ready to go. It’ll get you out of any potentially bland situation.”
2. What part of Euro life or culture are you most excited for?
“Bathrooms you can’t even turn around in. Oh wait, ‘most’ excited? Sharing tiny beds with Hoff.”
3. What are you going to miss most about home?
“Being able to get away. Europe is pretty much people just everywhere.”
4. What’s one race/venue that you’re particularly excited for in the next several weeks, and why?
“The opening weekend in Kuusamo is gonna be pretty sick; classic sprint and 15k classic. But then of course racing in Lillehammer will be epic.”
5. What’s one thing you’ve been working hard on, technically or otherwise, with your skiing this offseason?
“I focused on my skating, like I have been for a few years now. Just trying to refine my technique so I can bring my efficiency up to par with my classic skiing.”
6. What’s your “secret weapon” for a successful start on the World Cup circuit this season?
“I think I am at a great spot… I don’t really have the expectations of doing really well, but I have enough World Cup experience under my belt and the confidence that I can hang with these guys, that I might be able to put it together. So I would say, I have the potential but not the pressure.”
7/8. How nervous do you get for the first race of the season? How different is it starting the season in Finland vs. Montana?
“Usually, I get nervous only if I am putting a lot of pressure on a certain race. But a lot of times for me, the first race of the year kind of seems like it’s too soon, like I haven’t gotten myself fully amped up for it yet. Which actually can end up working pretty well. I am really excited to be here on the World Cup instead of in West, but to be honest, I will try to approach it the same way mentally. I guess that’s easy to say now, but I might start getting psyched when I see all the TV cameras and cable cams and wax semis in Kuusamo.”
“I am really excited to be here on the World Cup instead of in West, but to be honest, I will try to approach it the same way mentally. I guess that’s easy to say now, but I might start getting psyched when I see all the TV cameras and cable cams and wax semis in Kuusamo.” — Reese Hanneman, APU skier and 2013/2014 men’s overall SuperTour winner
9. What will you miss about West Yellowstone?
“Bison burgers and milkshakes after the races. And seeing homies from all over the ski world.”
10. If you could ski like any famous World Cup skier (past or present), who would it be?
“[Swedish four-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion Thomas] Wassberg was a boss. That old school classic technique… unreal.”
Bonus: Who’s your World Cup crush?
“Oh man… haha. I’ve had a thing for [Norway’s] Marthe Kristoffersen since like back at my first World Juniors. She doesn’t even have to try. Six years later, I’m still waiting to be introduced.”
Last word: “I’d like to give a shoutout to a couple people who have been crucial in helping me get to this point. Alaska Pacific University has invested a lot into me, and I wouldn’t be here without them and my coach Erik Flora. And then my sponsors at the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska, The Alaska Community Foundation, Alaska Children’s Eye, Girdwood 2020, PDC Engineers, and the Alaska Club for their support.”