February 24, 2023

I was born in the US, but from the age of 2 to 13 I was raised in Sweden by my maternal grandparents. They lived in the province of Dalarna, an area in Sweden that has produced some of the world’s best cross-country skiers. From the age of three I skied just about every day from the end of October to mid-April.

We had no public transportation to school, so we bicycled or walked and when there was snow on the ground we skied. Each school taught two grades. My first school was only about a 1.8 KM from our house, the second a little further and the third about 5 kilometers from my grandparent’s place.

School was six days a week, not five. Each class was 45 minutes. Between classes we had a fifteen-minute fresh air exercise break. When there was no snow on the ground, we played all kinds of games, but mainly soccer. The snow was on the ground almost six months per year and between classes most of us skied for fun on the soccer field. Lunch was thirty minutes, so if you ate fast you could ski for about twenty minutes. That meant that when I entered 5th grade, I skied 10 kilometers going to school plus about 40 minutes during the break periods. But most of us also skied after school. There were no track setters, so we stomped the tracks with our skies. In mid-winter, it was dark by 14:30 so we set the tracks by the main roads that had streetlights. During moonlit nights we sometimes skied to the top of a nearby mountain. Almost every Sunday there were XC races for young skiers. My mother’s youngest brother, Lennart Lindgren, was the best cross-country skier locally and he was my coach.

While in 5th grade my parents arrived from United States. Everyone assumed they were coming to Sweden permanently and that’s what my parents told everyone. But about nine months later they decided to return to the US. I didn’t want to leave Sweden. I loved my wonderful grandparents, my teachers were great, so I liked school, and I also had a lot of good friends.

My parents told me I would like United States, but the first three years were not pleasant. When we arrived in the US my parents moved often. First, we stayed at my father’s brothers house in Bridgeport, CT, then we moved to Southport, CT, then Black Rock, CT, and then my mother decided to go to California where she had an uncle. I just wanted to go back to Sweden where I had a stable and pleasant life. After a short stay in California my parents decided to move back to Connecticut. We ended up in Long Ridge and I became a sophomore at Stamford High School.

To stay in shape, I ran and ran and ran. While living in Long Ridge my parents bought a property in Westport, CT. One of their friends was a contractor and soon he was pouring the foundation for the house. The schools in Sweden were good but I felt like I had learned very little during the last three years in the US.  In my seven months at West Hollywood Junior High in California, not a single course taught me anything that I already didn’t know. Stamford High School was better. While at Stamford High found out that Staples High School in Westport was considered a very good school. I decided to speak to the school principal at Staples High. I did not want to sweat and smell like a pig, so I ran slowly the six miles from Long Ridge to the Stamford railroad station, then took the commuter train to Saugatuck, which is also the railroad station for Westport. I walked to the high school and had a meeting with the school principal. I told him that since my parents were now paying property taxes to the town of Westport, I wanted to transfer from Stamford High to Staples. He did not think it was possible to commute from Long Ridge to Westport and always arrive on time because the train ride was 20 miles, and then another 2 miles from the Saugatuck station to Staples.  He suggested that I wait until the house in Westport was finished. I told him I did not want to wait. I finally convinced him that I could be at the school every morning on time.

For the next three months I left Long Ridge at five in the morning and ran to the Stamford train station. After a couple of weeks, the regular commuters on Long Ridge Road would stop and offer me a ride to Stamford. The students at Staples were very gracious. At Stamford High I was on the cross-country running team but had never been on a track team. When we had a mile time trial on the track at Staples, my 4’ 29” time was the fastest in the school.

The courses at Staples were good and in my Senior year I began to look at colleges. I ended up at Dartmouth. Unlike the other athletic programs at the college the ski program was part of the Dartmouth Outing Club. Our coach was Walter Prager from Switzerland, an Olympic Gold Medalist. Many of the skiers on the team had attended schools with a ski program, but I had not raced on skis since I was 13.  Before the snow fell Walter decided to have all the skiers who tried out for the freshman cross-country ski team do a 10K time trial. He asked the varsity cross-country skiers to run with the freshman. The finish of the race was by the ski jump on the golf course in Hanover. I decided to stay behind the two that were leading the pack. By the time we climbed the last hill by the ski jump the three of us had dropped the rest of the competitors. When I saw Walter standing by the jump I decided to pass the two varsity skiers. After the race Walter asked me a lot of questions. I told him I had not XC raced since leaving Sweden and that I was worried about not making the team. He was impressed by my skiing background in Sweden and my running ability and was sure I would make the team. He was right. I won every freshman race that season.

Walter Prager and I got along well. He knew I wanted to visit my grandparents in Sweden but could not afford it. Walter told me that in two years the World Nordic Championships would be in Falun, Sweden, a short distance from my grandparents. He was positive that with two years of training I could make the US Ski Team. That would mean a free trip to Sweden. He prepared a training program for me. Walter was not the only one pushing me. Many skiers at Dartmouth were convinced I could make the US Team. Academically I was doing OK until I started training to a point where I didn’t have the energy or the time to study properly. When my grades deteriorated, my father convinced me not to ski in my sophomore year. My grades improved and in my junior year I was back on the A varsity team.

After graduating from Dartmouth, I did not cross-country race again until I was 37 years old. Soon after I started, I was winning local races, but there was very little time to train. The electronics company I founded with Windsor Hunter was growing so rapidly that we both became workaholics.

When I was in my 40’s there was a Washington’s Birthday race in Brattleboro, Vermont. I wondered how I would do if I had more time to train. I told my partner that for the next six weeks I did not want to go on any business trips and would arrive at work a little later than normal so I could train in the morning for the race in Vermont. I trained distance four days a week and did interval workouts two days up a long steep hill. Every week I always had one day of rest.

There was a lot of snow that year, and former National Team skier Bob Gray from Putney, VT had set an excellent course. About four hundred skiers entered the race, including many from the US National Team. The National Team skiers were in the front row. I was someplace in the middle of the pack. During the race I was passing a lot of skiers, but with some 150 skiers in front of me at the start it was hard to figure how I was doing. About four kilometers from the finish, I only saw a small group of skiers in front of me.  A few minutes later a spectator shouted that I was in 10th place. That spurred me on, and I passed two more skiers and finished 7th.  I wondered who the six skiers were that beat me. Turned out it was the six National Team skiers, and they were about twenty years younger.

The Brattleboro race, my last Vasaloppet race in Sweden and a 50K Great American Ski Chase in Waterville Valley were some of my best races as an old Master skier.