Episode 1 of our Inspirational Interview Series!

You’re on Mute!

Stories of Everyday Covid Champions

A series of lively interviews of skiers from across Southern Ontario District to engage, inspire and tell the story of Nordic skiing during a global pandemic.

For our first interview, we caught up with Andrew Howlett of Owen Sound’s Bruce Ski Club to ask him a few questions about his skiing this year during the Covid Pandemic.  Andrew is a club executive member who is usually found organizing races and crunching numbers. This year we noticed Andrew putting is some BIG distances out there on the trails.

First of all Andrew, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself. What is your role here at Bruce Ski Club? How long have you been a Nordic skier?

I started skiing in 1978. I lived in Hamilton, I would make my own tracks at the park or a local golf course. When I moved to Owen Sound a friend introduced me to groomed trails at Bruce Ski Club. What a great idea! I volunteered with the club and have done lots of jobs. This year I am the club treasurer and I clean the porta-potties.

We notice that you wear earphones while you are skiing.  What is your jam? Black Sabbath or Miley Cyrus?

I listen to a mix of 80s music, orchestral stuff like Mozart and Beethoven, and movie soundtracks. My playlist has about two hundred tracks and is maybe twenty hours long. I can put it on shuffle and don’t get many repeats.

Most people have opted for sweat pants and Netflix. At the time of this interview you have logged an impressive 1435km, including 6 days over 80km.  What is motivating you this season?

I wanted to do the Canadian Ski Marathon (CSM) this year. The CSM is 80km two days in a row. I started training at the beginning of December. I did my two 80s on January 23rd and 24th. I will do the CSM virtual event in February but the virtual event is shorter: it only requires two 50km tracks.

Membership numbers at Bruce Ski Club have surged, a trend we have seen across the district. Do you think this trend will continue after the pandemic is over?

I think some people will be back next year. Many of the new members are snowshoers and they really like our snowshoe trails. I see many new families out skiing together, which is encouraging.

What do you think of garden gnomes?

Not sure where this question is going …. haven’t noticed any gnomes on our trail. If they were there I think I would have seen them because I’m always looking for rabbits. Rabbits are active early in the morning between 6am and 7am. It’s that weird time in the morning when I can turn off my headlamp but everything is black and white, no colours. I spotted one in January but only because it ran. A still rabbit is very hard to spot in the winter. I will be on the lookout for gnomes from now on.

This year we have lost our in-person racing and training. What advice do you have for younger skiers looking to stay positive and motivated during these challenging times?

Try to turn every setback into an opportunity. This is a great time to try something new. Experiment with your training program. Set a goal that wouldn’t fit with your normal activities.

We hear you may have Domino’s Pizza on speed dial. What are your favorite recovery foods?

After a long ski (more than 30km) I make a stir fry with lots of veggies and three scrambled eggs. After a short ski I eat a couple bowls of Vector cereal.

Nothing beats skiing in circles for hours upon hours but we are talking about a lot of exercise. The Germans have a word “Muskelkater”, which translates to Muscle Cat. It is a word to describe muscle fatigue and muscle hangover. How is your body holding up? Are you feeling Muscle Catish?

Yes, definitely. I get that feeling a lot. I think the point of doing 80km twice in a row is to get used to it and move past the fatigue. I don’t take days off, at least not on purpose. I try to ski at least 20km every day. So I’m always in the fatigue zone.

Spending full days on the trails is hard to manage for some. You must have the world’s best boss and supportive family?  Are you a paid professional skier?

Ha ha almost. I’m retired. I’m married to my best friend and she is very supportive. She baked me a 1000km cake.