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Wild Rumpus Sports

Waxing Anxious

FasterSkier’s American Birkebeiner coverage is made possible through the generous support of New Moon Ski & Bike in Hayward, Wisconsin. While you are at the Birkie be sure to visit New Moon Ski & Bike for all your local expertise.

The sky was the same color as the snow-covered landscape and the car thermometer read 11 degrees as I drove past a heritage quilt-patterned barn and reflected on my most recent cultural blunder.

The women running the coffee shop register looked at me like there was a tentacle budding from my ear when I ordered an oak milk latte.   As I walked out of the coffee shop with my consolation Americano, I glanced at a passing vehicle. The license plate read “Wisconsin – America’s Dairyland.”   Traveling north on Wisconsin State Highway 63, I considered the common typecasting associated with this region.

Norske Nook Restaurant and Bakery refuels skiers after a day on the course. (Photo: Katie Bradish)

Stereotype (noun):  Widely held image of a person, place, or thing.    

But aren’t stereotypes just an oversimplified opinion-deciding device of the intellectually lazy? Then I drove past, what had to be, the fourth storefront in 50 miles announcing squeaky-fresh cheese curds.    

Upon arrival, bib pick-up was streamlined in the cordoned off Hayward High School building. Once all the race necessaries were in hand, it was time to scope the Birkie Expo. I was met by the sprawling red SWIX table as I stepped into the Expo hall.  Suddenly, wax anxiety set in.

If anyone was talking about anything other than wax, I couldn’t hear it.  My eavesdropping picked up snippets of conflicting data and my mind began to race. Where can I find a wax station? And what does this wax recommendation even mean? Commencer hyperventilation sequence.  

Since sticking a toe into this sport, I’ve observed an inherent goodness of its partakers. This willingness to help, teach and bolster could be attributed to the fact that I pose no threat.  I am both too old and too not good to throw shade on anyone’s podium ambitions. But I suspect there is something more to it.

My wax anxiety was all for naught. Help from smiling Wisconsin natives was readily available and rookie racer advice was offered without a trace of condescension. That inherent goodness trait seemed to be on high beams today in Birkie Town USA.  

So, here I hunch over my laptop at the Norske Nook, eating a cranberry bread Reuben and lingonberry pie with whipped cream, pondering the common quips made about Midwesterners – the propensity for snowy activities, the proclivity for dairy products, the general affability.

I can’t say I disagree.  – KB

Katie Bradish is an investigative athlete and will be contributing writer for Faster Skier from Sandpoint, Idaho. Bradish decided to learn to Nordic ski with some hard deadlines.  With the support of Fischer Nordic, SWIX USA and Coach Rebecca Dussault, Bradish will race in three Worldloppet races by the end of 2020. Uff-dah!

Katie Bradish is an investigative athlete and contributing writer for Faster Skier from Sandpoint, Idaho.