I love cross-country skiing. The reasons are many but most important it’s the freedom I feel when I’m out on the trails. It’s just plain fun. I’ve had the opportunity, in the last 40 years, to ski and learn from the best, and ski all over the U.S. and Europe.
It all started at Columbia Junior College in Sonora, California. The college was starting a ski program and I jumped at the opportunity. Discovering cross-country skiing was by chance (as it turned out I wasn’t that great of a downhill skier). The team found a quiver of old, and beautifully laminated cross-country and jumping skis. We had no idea what to do with them back in 1971 so we started to experiment. This is a journey of 40 years learning how to ski: the lightbulb moment of discovering how wax worked, my first jump with sticky skis and sliding down the hill on my face and the moment my friend Audun Endestad showed me a skate step he saw in Europe in the early 80’s. If there were mistakes to be made we discovered them and the good discoveries were life changing.
This is a journey from that Junior College racing to teaching XC skiing at Telemark Lodge and racing the Birkebeiner 55 Kilometer race the three years I was there. An impromptu winter at Brenton Woods, N.H. to Sun Valley for 6 years and winning the Boulder Mountain Tour in my final year before moving to Colorado. There’s also the 12 years on the PSIA Nordic Demonstration Team to fine tune my teaching skills and helping my understanding of technique. Then suddenly it changes — a new journey of raising a family and working in totally unrelated fields.
Now my wife has jumped into the fray with plans to enter the Birkebeiner in 2017. Can a 60 year old make any kind of comeback? I have no idea but I’ll find out.
— Mark Pearson