Lifelong sport, once-in-a-lifetime chance

  • Masters World Cup Nordic Ski Races at Theodore Wirth Park on 21 January 2018 Courtesy photo—�2018 f/go (www.f-go.us)

  • Masters World Cup Nordic Ski Races at Theodore Wirth Park on 21 January 2018 Courtesy photo—�2018 f/go (www.f-go.us)

  • Brad Bates skis during a 30km race at the Masters World Cup last weekend in Minnesota. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 6:15PM

Hundreds of Nordic ski racers from around the world congregated in Minnesota last weekend for the Masters World Cup. Among them were two who do their skiing in Dublin, and they found themselves near the head of the pack, if not winning outright.

Brad Bates is the headmaster and Nordic ski coach at Dublin School, which has a longstanding cross-country ski legacy that dates back to school founders the Lehmanns as well as Bates’ own father.

“It's always been part of the DNA of the school,” Bates said.

Bates is a racer in his own right, for local club team Dublin XC which trains and competes on the trails at Dublin School. He and Dublin XC coach Kathy Maddock both competed in the annual event, which only takes place in the United States about once every decade. Bates said he’d been in the national championships before, placing as high as 11th in his age bracket, and the chance to compete against the best in the world was one he couldn’t pass up.

“You’re actually racing against former Olympians,” Bates said.

Maddock made a splash, taking third overall, good for a bronze medal, after winning the 15k race outright and finishing high in several others.

“You could just kind of people whispering in Russian ‘Who is this woman? And where is Dublin? Is that Ireland?’” Bates recalled. “It's just amazing you have these from these Nordic countries and to see someone from our little club, Kathy, winning, it was quite a thrill.”

Bates was no slouch himself, as he’d finish 9th in the 40-49 demographic, 4th out of all American competitors. And as he watched the older competitors — some in their 90s — whiz by, it gave him inspiration.

“Maybe when I retire I can train a little bit more,” he joked.

Nordic skiing is a lifelong sport, and in Dublin, it starts early, on the XC trails with Maddock instructing.

“To me it's all about culture,” Bates said, “and we're just trying to build the Nordic culture in this region and make it really inclusive.”