If you’re a skier, I’ll wager that you’ve been mesmerized by a ski race. Whether it was Franz Klammer’s insane gold-medal downhill dash in the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria — still the single most scintillating race I’ve ever seen — or the slashing runs of Ted Ligety or Mikaela Shiffrin, world-class racers captivate us.
Who hasn’t thought, if only for an instant, “I wonder what that feels like?”
Of course, ski racing isn’t for everyone. But for those who heed its siren’s song, it can be completely addicting. Just last month, I was at Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, enjoying a brisk Sunday hanging out with dozens of masters racers, men and women, of every age imaginable. The friendly banter centered as much on joints and body parts (real and replacement) as it did on race conditions. But I was enamored with the youthful enthusiasm and camaraderie on display.
“Ski racing attracts an outdoorsy, athletic group of people,” says multiple New England and national masters champion Lisa Densmore Ballard, author of “Ski Faster: Guide to Racing and High Performance Skiing.” “Friendships abound. Romances, too. Everyone in a competition has something in common — an exciting moment about which to reminisce, a gate that was almost missed, an amazing recovery, a big crash. What better way to meet people than to get involved in a ski racing program?”