We’re almost as old as the SNS Pilot binding system: FasterSkier turns 20 years old this season. The site went live on February 1, 2002, a week before the Winter Olympics began in the Salt Lake City backyard of site founders Torbjorn Karlsen and Cory Smith. While the first few months worth of coverage has been lost to the sands of time, or at least to the ravages of our CMS system (2002 Olympics coverage has been preserved thanks to the Wayback Machine and will be revisited later this winter), news reporting preserved in our modern WordPress platform picks up in December 2002. There is, for example, this article about a NorAm race in Rossland, British Columbia (Dec. 14, 2002), or this article about a World Cup race in Cogne, Italy (Dec. 17, 2002), dating from a prehistoric era in which a sprint final had just four athletes. And the rest, as they say, is history, poignantly so now that SkiTrax and Master Skier are no more and FasterSkier stands alone among online sources for English-language nordic ski features.
In general social science terms, 20 years is roughly one generation. In pro skier terms, it’s probably at least two generations, maybe three.
Take a look at some of the names in the Continental Cup article linked above: Carl Swenson, Kristina Trygstad-Saari, Kris Freeman, David Chamberlain. Okay, Freeman (who at the time was 22 years old) is an outlier of extreme longevity in American skiing, appearing on a national championship podium as recently as 2019, but most of those names seem to date from another era.
Swenson retired in 2007, and by 2011 had already been out of skiing for long enough to be the subject of a “where are they now” article. Chamberlain is now 45 years old. That 2002 article says of Trygstad-Saari that she “has been a top junior skier for a few years now, and today she proved she could ski with the best in North America. In the process, she beat out Jeannie Wall, the 2002 Birkie Champion and also from Bozeman, by five seconds … .” Trygstad-Saari’s last FIS race was in 2010; Wall’s, in 2003. That’s a long time ago!
All of which is to say, we’ve built up some history on this website, and now it’s time to share some of it. This month inaugurates our new series, “From the Archives,” in which we feature one article a month from our extensive holdings. We will provide a brief introduction for some historical context, then reprint the entire article as it originally appeared, subject to mild editing for typos or style.
We’re not going to go with a rigid “10 years ago today” format, or some such, because as a matter of strict chronology that would likely make this series devolve into a strict march through the 2011/2012 World Cup season. Instead, it will be more like, “from this month, 10 to 20 years ago, inclusive,” which is clearly not as catchy or as pithy, but should afford us the flexibility to choose the most interesting article each time. (If you have thoughts on something important worth revisiting, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Finally, a note on photos. The oldest shots in the current FasterSkier image library date back to October 2008 – there were of course pictures published with articles before then, they just don’t show up in the current incarnation of the WordPress image library. (The single oldest image that we currently have is, randomly and hilariously, this rhinoceros, captioned internally as “Frickin’ Rhinos,” which was a presumably a “Hello, World!” test image.) So any articles from before that time won’t have pictures, for which we apologize. To ameliorate your disappointment, please enjoy these late-aughts historical photos of some athletes you may not have thought of in some time (Katie Ronsse, Morgan Arritola, Laura Valaas, James Southam), and some names you know well, but looking very, very young (Noah Hoffman, Kikkan Randall, Kris Freeman, Becca Rorabaugh).
The first article in this series will be published tomorrow. Tune in then for a recap of the 2008 CXC Elite Team fall training camp at Lake Placid, featuring Garrott Kuzzy, Caitlin Compton (now Caitlin Gregg), and “a very impressive showing” by an obscure junior athlete named Jessie Diggins.
Wonder if she ever amounted to much.
Gavin Kentch is a lifelong Alaskan. He skis with the Alaska Pacific University Masters team in Anchorage, plays with his two adorable daughters, and occasionally works as a solo attorney. He has a cat named Marit. He was probably on snow this year before you were.