Monday, March 15, 2010

A ski-centric weekend—without much skiing: Writing for the Loppet

The last in a three-part series

As late as Wednesday, I was wondering what I was going to do all weekend. It turned out I had way too much on my plate (and never got around to my taxes). I got an email on Friday from John Munger at the City of Lakes suggesting that maybe I wanted to write a City of Lakes Loppet race report, and perhaps focus on some interesting people there. Yeah, that might be fun. Then I got a call from him saying that I had been volunteered to do so.

Okay then.

I got the contact information for all the winners (classic and skate, male and female) as well as some other assorted dignitaries. And to their credit, everyone responded to me. Props to Andy, Audrey, Matt, Kristina and Caitlin for that. I sent out an email asking them to email or call me please on Saturday after I got back from Wirth. By the time I woke up Sunday I got an email from Andy Liebner, the classic winner. Then I got a call from Audrey Weber, who also won the classic race. I had about 500 words—what John wanted at a minimum, and figured that if none of the other skiing superstars called back, well, I'd have something.

I had an email from Caitlin, too. But that one seemed like a long shot. She was in Norway for a World Cup race and would be back later in the afternoon, could we Skype then? We could try. So instead of enjoying the sunshine, I was booting up Skype. It took us a while to get it to run correctly (I had to disable my video from trying to load, it seems) but once it did, she talked to me for more than an hour, which was beyond awesome. We each thought the other had a dog barking because of the feedback, but I got, well, way more than I needed from Caitlin. About the City of Lakes, which she won in 2008 (coming 10th overall—she said she knows she is ready for the World Cup when she is skiing with the top men in the US). About being a poor athlete in the Twin Cities. About the Olympics. Oh, yeah, did I mention that she was in Vancouver? Garrott (Vancouver) on Friday, Carolyn (Torino, biathlon) on Saturday, Caitlin today.

Anyway, Caitlin is awesome—she offered to show me a week of Olympic training this summer. Maybe I'll write that up for a local publication; I think it would be interesting. If not, it will get me in to shape. She offered to do a strength session with the Mac ski team, too. Collin says "very tight."

She finally had to go to bed in Norway, and Matt Liebsch called. He had "five or ten minutes" while he shuttled his kids around. Half an hour later I had pages of notes from talking to him too. Matt won the Birkie last year, the Mora two years running, and the City of Lakes this year. Oh, and he has two young kids. Yeah. Wow.

Finally, I called Kristina Owen, who won the women's skate race. I got some copy from her and set to writing. By the evening, I had condensed it all down to 2100 words—less than three times what John wanted, although I think the word count might be malleable—and some great stories. I'll post them here soon.

So while I had skis on for a total of about an hour, it was a very ski-heavy weekend. It was 64 on Sunday, the snow is gone (but might return later this week) and I'm off to Colorado next weekend. And it's probably the most I've thought about skiing—without actually skiing much—ever.

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