The 2013 Dion Snowshoes United States National Snowshoe Championships have given a clear indication that snowshoe racing is carving out an ever-expanding spot in the endurance sporting world.
However, were it not for the pioneers of the sport, who have consistently worked to spread the many benefits snowshoe racing holds for all walks of athletes, the success of the 2014 Nationals and the many more to come would not be possible.
Each year, Snowshoe Magazine recognizes one of these pioneers who have put in extensive efforts to better the sport by awarding them the Cindy Brochman Memorial Person of the Year Award. Essentially, the award recognizes others who are as passionate about snowshoe racing as Brochman was.
Paul Smith’s College Cross-country and Snowshoe Racing Coach and “Dean of Fun,” Jim Tucker, was announced as the winner of this year’s award, being called before the cheerful crowd midway through the award’s ceremony to be recognized for his numerous contributions to the sport.
“Jim Tucker is likely the number one most important figure in the sport, though his modesty would keep him from agreeing to such a comment,” said Phillip Smith, senior editor at Snowshoe Magazine, who nominated Jim this year.
For 27 years, Tucker has worked with athletes’ at Paul Smith’s College where he instituted the snowshoe racing team the first winter he walked onto campus. “Starting the snowshoe program allowed me to get a good handle on my athletes for seven to eight months out of the year,” said Tucker. “Exposing these athletes to snowshoe racing has allowed an increasing number of athletes to recognize the legitimacy of this sport.”
“That his team members are enthusiastic and talented is well-known,” said Smith. “It must also be expressed how nice and wholesome they are in representing Paul Smith’s College and the sport of snowshoeing.”
Tucker’s squad, which brought 16 athletes to the 2014 USSSA Nationals, has seen ebbs and flows in the number of athletes participating. However, Tucker sees a bright future for snowshoe racing due in large part to the Nationals moving from region to region each year. “I like having the Nationals moving from one place to another each year,” said Tucker. “It allows other colleges and organizations to figure out that there is a huge benefit snowshoe racing can have other sports, which will continue to make it more appealing.”
Beyond Tucker’s work at Paul Smith’s, Tucker is also the co-founder and president of the Empire State Snowshoe Racing Association, one of the largest snowshoe racing circuits in the country. This work continues to pay dividends for New York athletes, as New Yorkers swept both the boys and girls junior championships, with several others placing in the top five.
For all his accomplishments and all the praise Tucker received, it was apparent through his beaming smile that Tucker sees himself as merely an ambassador not a star of the sport who wants to pass on his passion for the snowshoe racing to others, making the magnitude of this true champion hard to put into words.
“Receiving this award hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Tucker, when asked what the award means to him. “I am at a loss of words right now, it’s going to take some time to soak in.”
For more information on the Cindy Brochman Memorial Person of the Year Award, visit https://www.snowshoemag.com/media-planner.