Catching Up With the U.S. National Snowshoe Team

In March, 16 athletes made the 2012 U.S. National Snowshoe Team. And although many of them live high in the mountains of Colorado, we knew they haven’t been snowshoeing for the past eight months. So, we decided to check in on a few of them; turns out their off-season resumes are as impressive as their snowshoeing accolades.

HELEN COSPOLICH
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
It’s great to represent our country in this growing sport!

Describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec.
I didn’t go.

What have you been up to lately?
I’m a competitive ultrarunner who races eight to 10 events each year. This spring I won the Spring Desert 50 Mile and The North Face Ecuador 50 mile, placed second at the Leadville Silver Rush 50 and third at the Miwok 100k. I also represented the USA in the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in France.

What’s been your biggest athletic accomplishment during the off-season?
I enjoy traveling to other countries and racing. UTMB continues to be my favorite overseas event.

What are your plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
I live in Breckenridge, Colo., so it’s easier for me to train on snowshoes than on regular running shoes in the winter. We have endless trails that are great for snowshoeing. I’ll try to race locally as much as possible, including races in Beaver Creek and Silverthorne.

What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
Other than great snowshoes, shoe covers are a must for deep and cold days on the trail!

Any other thoughts?
Snowshoeing doesn’t always translate for competitive runners. Deep snow and uneven terrain make it more of a strength effort than speed.

BRANDY ERHOLTZ
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
To be completely honest, the “swag” we receive from all the sponsors!

Describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec. 
I was unable to attend the World Championships in Quebec. Unfortunately, there is not funding for the U.S. Snowshoe Team, so many of us were unable to attend. I am sure it would have been a beautiful place to race!

What have you been up to lately? 
I am a competitive mountain/trail runner. This past summer I qualified for my fifth consecutive U.S. Mountain Running Team by placing third at the U.S. qualifier, which was held at Loon Mountain, N.H. on July 8. I had the privilege of representing the U.S. in Italy for the World Mountain Running Championships Sept. 2 and the Long Distance Championships at the Jungfrau Marathon Sept. 8. Both teams won the Gold! Personally, I was a bit disappointed in my performances. I had trained and focused really hard with the goal of placing in the top five in Italy. I came down with a cold race week and didn’t perform well; I was 40th. This had been my goal race since the fall of September 2011. I am grateful I had such strong teammates to pull the team through. Jungfrau went better as I was 16th, however, I felt my training was better geared for the shorter race and with the lingering effects of a cold, I ran a bit conservatively. It was, however, the most gorgeous race I have ever run. I think everyone should add it to their bucket list! I also ran Mt. Washington this summer, which was the U.S. Mountain Running National Championships, and I placed second. I won the NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Vancouver, BC and placed third at Pike’s Peak Ascent. I also plan on running the U.S. Trail Marathon National Championships in Moab on Nov. 3.

What’s been your biggest athletic accomplishment during the off-season?
Qualifying for my fifth U.S. Mountain Team would probably be the highlight. However, standing on the podium at Worlds with my teammates and hearing the National Anthem played in our honor was also quite incredible!

What are your plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
I actually consider snowshoeing my off-season for running. I use it as a way to stay in shape and work on my downhill running. To be honest, I don’t train on my snowshoes much. Most of my training for snowshoe running comes from actual trail/mountain running.  I would like to do a little more XC skiing this winter. I haven’t mapped out my goals/races for 2013 entirely yet.The Beaver Creek series in Colorado are always fun/competitive races. I also like to do the Vail and Aspen winter uphills. I will also be looking at heading to Bend in March for the National Championships. Nothing is set in stone yet. Worlds are in Italy which I would love to attend, but I don’t think it will be financially feasible.

What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
My snowshoes!

SCOTT GALL
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
Camaraderie with guys and gals that enjoy the sport as much as I do.

What have you been up to lately?
Xterra Nationals in Utah and some trail racing as well.

What’s been your biggest athletic accomplishment during the off-season?
Increasing my swim training for Xterra and learning to get stronger at a sport that isn’t my forte.

What are your plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
Off-road triathlon training and plenty of snowshoe racing. Training in Iowa doesn’t allow a ton of rough terrain or elevation so biking really allows me to build and keep strength needed in snowshoeing.

What are your racing plans for the upcoming season?
Two races in the Midwest and one or two in Colorado before heading to Nationals.

What’s the one piece of snowshoe-related gear you can’t live without?
My Brooks mittens.

ERIC HARTMARK
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
The best thing about being a National Team member is being able to meet and get to know the other amazing athletes from the U.S. as well as those from around the world.

Describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec.
The World Championship in Quebec was an amazing experience. The venue at Forêt Montmorency was gorgeous. I had a wonderful time after the race exploring the trails and taking in the scenic views from the mountain tops. The race hosts and volunteers were very welcoming and friendly. They did a great job preparing and maintaining the course. I enjoyed meeting and getting to know them as well as a lot of the athletes who were at the race. The spectators were fantastic. It was so much fun every time we raced through the start/finish area to hear the supporting cheers and roars of the crowd after each loop of the course. I also learned quite a bit about snowshoe racing and rules and how they can differ from place to place.

What have you been up to lately?
Since the World Championships, I have been having lots of fun with my running. I have traveled a bit this year to races with the Run n Fun race team, which is always a great time. I have also changed up my racing this year and rather than focusing on the roads, I’ve been having fun exploring a bunch of trail races.

What’s been your biggest athletic accomplishment during the off-season?
My biggest athletic accomplishments during this off-season have been learning to race on surfaces that are much more rugged than I am used to as well as watching the progress and celebrating in the successes of the athletes I have been coaching.  It is so exciting and rewarding being able to help someone to achieve their goals and dreams.

What are your plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
Training plans: Last season I planned to train quite a bit on the snowshoes, but unfortunately, it hardly snowed at all last winter in Minnesota.  So, I ended up only getting on snowshoes two times before nationals last year… one of those times being a couple of months before the race. Hopefully I will be able to have a little more fun in the snow before Nationals and the World Championships.  Where and how I train varies depending on where I am at the time.  I travel quite a bit, so it can depend on my location as well as the weather.

What are your racing plans for the upcoming season?
My racing plans for the upcoming season include traveling out to Bend, Ore., for the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships as well as to Italy for the World Snowshoe Championships.  If it snows in Minnesota this year, it would be fun to get into a few local races as well.

What’s the one piece of snowshoe-related gear you can’t live without?
One piece of snowshoe-related gear I cannot live without… that is an interesting question for me. I actually went quite awhile without any snowshoe-related gear  I ran on borrowed snowshoes for my first three snowshoe races, which included the 2011 and the 2012 U.S. Snowshoe Championships.  So, I guess it is possible to live without my gear… but it is really nice to have my own pair of snowshoes now.  Even though it is possible to live without it, the sponsors of the U.S. National Snowshoe team have been so generous to us and it makes training, racing, and traveling a whole lot more comfortable and convenient with all of the great gear they provide for us!

TRAVIS MACY
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
Brings me a couple of steps closer to Josiah Middaugh’s slipstream.

Describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec.
Did not go.

What have you been up lately?
Stories and results at www.followtravismacy.blogspot.com and www.travismacy.me.

What are your plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
I live in Evergreen, Colo. at 8,000 feet, and I do a lot of running, mountain biking, and road biking in the hills. My four-person team recently finished the first of two five-day adventure races in China. After the second one, this month, I’ll be ready to start thinking about winter sports! I’ll probably do the Pedal Power Snowshoe Series, the Winter TEVA Mountain Games and the North American Snowshoeing Championship.

What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
My dad. We go to most of the races together, and we have a blast!

Any other thoughts?
Gotta like snowshoeing! I can see fresh snow on the summit of Mt. Evans out my window already.

JOSIAH MIDDAUGH
Describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec.
I did not race in Quebec last year.

What have you been up to lately?
2012 has been a very successful year with big snowshoe wins at the Winter TEVA Mountain Games, National Snowshoe Championship, and the North American Snowshoe Championship. Since the winter I have been focusing mainly on XTERRA racing. In June I won the Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the Teva Mountain Games. Recently, in September, I won the XTERRA National Championship in Ogden, Utah. I am leaving soon for the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, Hawaii.

What are your plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
I am looking forward to the winter season. I am excited to partner with Northern Lites Snowshoes, since I have been racing on their shoes for many years; they have the best product out there both for racing and recreational use.
What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
I like the Northern Lites Elite snowshoes for a variety of snow conditions.
SARAH RAITTER
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
I have loved being a National Snowshoe team member! The best part for me is knowing how accomplished the other ladies are in all of their athletic endeavors. It makes me happy to know that I am part of such an accomplished group.

Describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec.
Definitely wish I could have gone to Quebec, but it would have required too many days off of school (I’m a middle school special education teacher.)

What have you been up to lately?
Since last year’s snowshoe nationals, I have been focusing on road racing. I joined a great group of athletes here in Reno called the Endurance Reno team. We have a fantastic coach (Will Contreras) and a motivated group of runners, duathletes and triathletes. It has renewed my excitement for racing. I’m planning on running California International Marathon in December and hope to break three hours again. I turn 40 in November so it will be my master’s debut race.

What are your plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
After the marathon in December it will be time to do some snowshoe races! I plan on doing the Northstar snowshoe series and hope to make it to at least one other Western regional qualifier. I can’t wait for snowshoe nationals in Bend because I used to live there and absolutely love it there.
Last year we had very little snow and so I didn’t really train on my snowshoes much, but in a typical year, we can get up to some great places in Truckee and Lake Tahoe.

What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
My one piece of snowshoe gear I cannot live without is my Atlas racing snowshoes. I’ve never worn anything else and absolutely love them!

JARED SCOTT
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
This is my first year making the team, finally. I’ve been sixth place two years in a row before taking second place this year.  Feels good to be a part of the team. I’m looking forward for the opportunity to hopefully race in Italy early next year.

Briefly describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec.
I didn’t race there.

What have you been up to since then?
I’ve done a lot mountain running races. I took third in this year’s La Sportiva Mountain Cup.

What are your training plans for the upcoming snowshoe season?
I just moved to Southwest Colorado, so I’m looking forward to being able to train in some snow.  Last year I didn’t get to do any snow training since it didn’t snow much in Arizona. I like to do a lot of hill workouts.

What are your racing plans for the upcoming season?
Race the Snowshoe World Championships in Italy in early January and the Winter TEVA Mountain Games in February. Then Snowshoe Nationals in March.

What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
Direct mounted shoes on my Kahtoola snowshoes. I also love my Kahtoola Microspikes for icy trail running.

POSTYN SMITH
What’s the best thing about being a National Team member?
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience at Nationals this past year. Colorado is my home, and Mitch Kasyon is one of my best friends. Therefore, it was great to be home with my family from college and to run with some of my best friends.

Describe your experience at the World Championships in Quebec.
They would not let me compete because I had not qualified as an adult.

What have you been up to lately?
I run for Williams College. After Nationals, I competed in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons. I was mainly running the 1500 and steeplechase. I was seeing real progress in my running and training.  Unfortunately, I significantly damaged both ankles running the steeplechase. I had bone and cartilage fractures in both ankles. I recently had surgery in one ankle and am now beginning the long road to recovery. I hope to be able to compete again at snowshoe nationals again in 2014.

What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without?
I have a great Salomon headband that I have had for years and always run in.

For more information on the United States Snowshoe Association and the U.S. Snowshoe Team, visit www.snowshoeracing.com.

About the author

Whitney Spivey

Whitney Spivey is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she is a freelance writer and editor. She is a three-time New Mexico state snowshoe racing champion, and she placed eighth at Nationals in 2014.

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2 Comments

  • Hello,

    I am moving to Kazakhstan and want have a National Snowshoe race and have it qualify for your World Championship. How is this possible? and I could use a little help impressing the very wealthy man that it will help promote his billion dollar ski & golf resort internationally (and of course make him some money). I would also want to start a snowshoeing rental & hiking outfit at his resort (He would own it and I wouldhelp set it up and help run it–kind of like the one at Beaver Creek CO.–I lived there for 16 years).

    Kind Regards!
    Rick Schmelzer (608)225-1152