On March 13th, the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 caused the World Cup to come to an abrupt halt. Quebec, Minneapolis, and Canmore: all cancelled. SuperTour finals: also cancelled.
For some U.S. athletes including Gus Schumacher and Katie Feldman, this meant missing their first ever World Cup starts. For others, like Andy Newell, it meant missing his last. Jessie Diggins was in sixth place in the overall standings, less than 300 points out of third with one of the women in front of her, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, injured and unable to compete.
Yes, in the grand scheme of a global pandemic, ski racing is insignificant, but human emotion is natural, and disappointment and frustration in the lost opportunity is to be expected.
In the spirit of spreading a little levity and positivity to contrast the uncertainty of the times, FasterSkier reached out to a subset of the coaches and crew who would have raced in the North American tour to find out what their “silver lining” to the early end of the season has been.
Here are the responses they’ve shared over the last week.
Jessie Diggins (MN)
“Getting time with my dogs and my family that I otherwise wouldn’t have had!”
Gus Schumacher (AK)
“My silver lining has been coming back to Alaska in its ideal state. So sunny and snowy and cold still, all making for amazing cross country and alpine skiing. Doing these outside activities help me keep my distance from people. I still get bummed when I think about how I’d be racing in Minneapolis right now but I’ve been distracted by doing fun things and seeing friends at home.”
Matt Whitcomb (VT)
“I’m feeling healthy, but put myself in quarantine immediately after returning from Quebec City, since I’d like to see my parents this spring. (Apparently there was a staff member from another team in QC with the virus.) Today is my 4th day in lock-down. I love it. Yesterday I skied 50k from my cabin door on a pair of Rossignols I hadn’t waxed in 15 years. They were great on the crust.
“I took a long break at 47k, and then limped it in to finish reading ‘Confederacy of Dunces.’ I fell asleep after one page. My only vehicle—at the moment—is a motorcycle, and with newly fallen snow, and only one potato and 75 ProBars remaining, I walked 4 miles into town to get groceries. I’m melting snow in a big pot for drinking water. So, the silver lining is that we all are forced to take the rest we need. The downside is that [my girlfriend] Steffi is stuck in Germany.”
Simi Hamilton (VT)
“Sophie and I, along with a few other southern Vermont locals, have been taking advantage of these crazy times and great spring weather to explore our back yard here in Peru. Since the announcement of the World Cup cancellations we’ve gone on a couple pretty epic forest adventures on some really good crust. Even though you can’t cover quite as much ground as in the west when the crust is good, it’s pretty cool to be able to explore the woods and connect a lot of dots on the map that you can’t do in the summer in your running shoes.
“Although Bill Koch has explored probably every square inch of the thousands of acres behind where he lives and where the Caldwells live, it still feels like you’re skiing through land where no one else has ever been before when you’re out there. There are frozen lakes and beaver ponds you can ski across, glades you can make turns in, and countless thickets of buckthorn and hemlock to scrape your way through.
“Yesterday our crew consisted of Sophie, Sverre, and me, as well as John, Ben, and Katherine Ogden (who live 10 minutes down the road). We’re for sure taking all the recommended precautions with proximity and exposure to others, but it’s just been great to share conversations, laughs, and adventures with good friends during these challenging times.”
Erika Flowers (MT)
“While I would have loved to be racing and traveling right now, being home has meant more backyard adventures with my sister, Natalie and husband, Andy. There’s a mountain about 20 minutes from our house called Little Ellis that has always been on my backcountry bucket list. It’s not particularly epic but it’s beautiful and when racing every weekend during the winter I’ve never found a good time to ski it. The spring the snowpack can be iffy so a few extra weekends at home in March meant we had the chance to tour up there earlier this week.
“All the local ski trails are still being groomed even though the lodges are technically closed. I may not have had the chance to wear my U.S. Ski Team suit at the World Cup but I suited up today for some fun intervals today in the sunshine!”
Kevin Bolger (WI)
“I am using this time to enjoy quality time with loved ones at home, finally reading the books I’ve been wanting to, and enjoying some northern Wisconsin spring days.”
Becca Rorabaugh (AK)
“I got to ski the Arctic to Indian traverse for the first time! Personally, I know I’ll never be this fit in Alaska in March with so much free time— I intend to make the most of it (sans carpooling). The route traverses the Chugach mountains from Arctic Valley Road to the Indian Valley Trailhead. It’s 20 miles — mostly gradual uphill terrain followed by a fun descent from Indian pass down to the trailhead. There are lots of boggy areas and creek crossings that aren’t fun in the summer, so late winder tends to be the time to do it.
“It’s been really fun this week to experience skiing in lots of different forms: doing so AT skiing, some nordic touring, and exploring places I don’t usually get to see this time of year.”