MWC Report -- Suzanne Corkran

How do you medal in three races and the relay at World Masters during a major slush fest?  Like this.  Suzanne's awesome and inspiring report is below, along with Rob's excellent pictures of all the action (except this first one, sent to Rainey by Alison Arians, F05 from Anchorage, the second fastest woman at the event.).

Trina Hosmer, Suzanne, Sharon Crawfod, and Carolyn Tiernan

Suzanne's World Masters Cup 2023 report

More than 50 years ago as a student in Munich, I hiked and skied in the Bavarian Alps and Austrian Tyrol. I loved those big alpine peaks and pastoral valleys, especially when they were covered in snow. Unfortunately, for the 12 days Rob and I were in Seefeld, they were not covered in snow. There was snow, but the little there was barely covered the valley bottom and the lower slopes of the mountains, revealing ugly brown spots that grew larger every day. Where I expected alpine grandeur, I found terrain that more closely resembled Snoqualmie Pass in late spring, and what snow there was had the quality of the worst Snoqualmie Pass spring slush. So why leave the land of bad spring snow (and more importantly why leave the land of bad snow when the snow is good for a change) to sit uncomfortably in a crowded airplane for too many hours and suffer jet lag in order to ski on more bad snow??!

I do it because the Masters World Cup experience is so worth it for me! I love the intensity of the competition and the camaraderie. I love being with other women my age who want to stay fit and active. I surprise myself by loving skiing even when the conditions are so bad!

This year I raced three individual races and a US team relay in the classic technique. My favorite race was on the face of it my least successful: I came in second place in every race except for this one, where I came in third. It was our last race and supposed to be the ‘long race’ but ended up shorter than the middle-distance race because of the course conditions; so much snow had melted that they kept having to cut out parts of the course and restrict the number of laps we all did. The snow was sloppy and barely groomed--- there was so little snow left they were concerned about the grooming machine destroying the fragile base. My group was the last out on the course and by that time some of the tracks that had been decent earlier were effaced, and we had to watch out for patches of dirt and grass on the flats and the downhills. More than half of my group decided to bail on the race and only the die-hards were left. One of these, a super skier new to our age group from the Yukon in Canada, leapt out ahead and finished minutes ahead of the rest of us. 

Ase Marit Sjurso, Lois Johnston, and Suzanne

Because I had beaten the other people in the earlier races, I thought I would be able to do that here. But the Norwegians had scoped out my skiing and came up with a plan to beat me. Throughout the week I had the advantage on the flats and on the uphills, but I was taking all the downhills like a super-chicken. I have many excuses: there were no tracks, the snow was incredibly squirrely, and I didn’t want to fall and mess up my tricky knees. Fortunately, in the early races everyone was checking on the hills and my super-chicken approach didn’t hurt me too much.  But in this final race, the Norwegian woman raced by me down each hill. She told me afterwards that it was nerve-racking to pass me downhill in the horrible snow, but she did it.  [ed.note: Rob reports that the Norwegian coach had noticed Suzanne was tentative on the downhills and instructed Ase Marit to take them aggressively to get ahead!]  I was ahead of her before each hill and then had to work to catch up and pass her before the next one. The last downhill was the longest and she took it much more aggressively than I did, even though by then I was trying to get down faster than I had been earlier. This gave her an important enough lead that I couldn’t catch her before the end of the race. I tried, but she outskied me. 

Suzanne and Ase Marit

Being in a close fight for the entire race was super, super fun. It made the time fly by and it made the mud, water or grass I had to ski around or through seem like intriguing mental challenges. For example, am I going to ski through that rather deep puddle ahead or try to maneuver around it through the adjacent melting ice that looks like it is going to collapse under my skis? Should I stay in this track that has a big dirt pile in it to pass Marit or should I move to the side and double-pole past her out of the track in the stickier, more unsteady snow? It was like being in those video games where you try not to die. And I loved it. 

Next year, several more hotshots move into my age group. I would have to train like a maniac to keep up with them. Maybe I should do that.  On the other hand, if I maintain my current training approach, I know my Norwegian friends and others with whom I have skied at various Masters World Cup events will be there and we can continue our wonderful little rivalries. At my age, it is such an incredible gift to have this to look forward to!

Suzanne and Alison Arians

Suzanne and Gretchen Lindgren

Joy, Suzanne, and Jeff