Katie Bradish is an investigative athlete and will be contributing writer for Faster Skier from Sandpoint, Idaho. Bradish decided to learn to Nordic ski with some hard deadlines. With the support of Fischer Nordic, SWIX USA and Coach Rebecca Dussualt, Bradish will race in three Worldloppet races by the end of 2020. Uff-dah!
FasterSkier’s American Birkebeiner coverage is made possible through the generous support of New Moon Ski & Bike in Hayward, Wisconsin. While you are at the Birkie be sure to visit New Moon Ski & Bike for all your local expertise.
One indicator that a person knows what they are doing is the ability to clearly and succinctly describe the topic at hand. A good description is one that is easily understood by anyone, of any age, with no previous experience with the topic.
I am far from clear messaging and crisp purpose with this whole Nordic skiing thing. I’m actually a little fuzzy on where the notion came from – and yet, here I sit, on a direct flight that will deposit me in the heart of the Midwest… in the middle of February.
On Saturday, I am going to ski the American Birkebeiner. The course winds 50 kilometers through the rolling hills through the Wisconsin Northwoods.
Did I mention that I’m not really a skier? My experience with Nordic skiing up until last month was equal to the cycling expertise of the sunburnt, cargo-short wearing tourist renting beach cruisers. In a word, casual.
“You’re from Idaho, huh? Everybody from out West thinks it is flat out here, but don’t be fooled. We’ve got hills – lots of hills,” my in-home host Bobbi said cheerfully. Even in her rounded, kindly Wisconsin accident, Bobbi’s genial hometown pride remark gave me a chill.
At my projected pace and with my wave placement, it will undoubtedly take me 4 hours to scramble up those well-trodden hills.
“So, you’re a journalist. What events are you covering?” Bobbi asked.
I explained that, yes, I would be doing some writing with the proviso that I made it across the finish line, because I’m racing the Birkie as a greenhorn.
“It’s an Eddie the Eagle-type situation. I’m not going to win or anything. I’m just trying my darndest to learn how to Nordic ski,” I said with reckless abandon for Midwestern colloquialism appropriation.
Bobbi, a long-time ski coach and Northwoods native, was kind enough to not give off a hint of incredulity for, what clearly had the ear-markings of a poorly-laid scheme.
The wisdom of my weekend aspirations aside, I am attending this race to get a feel for the Birkie culture, steep myself in Nordic tradition and jot down my first-timer impressions.
Oh, and take my oh-so-condensed training out for a spin. See you in Wisconsin. – KB