ADAM VERRIER ’87 REFLECTS ON EMBRACING CHALLENGE AT GMVS – FACT 26 of 50
Adam Verrier ‘87 is no stranger to tough workouts. As GMVS’s sole male Nordic Olympian, he’s put his body through its fair share of challenges. One particular experience from his days at GMVS has stuck with him through the years, and had a lasting impact on his athletic career.
“We Nordies did a training camp in West Yellowstone, Montana around Thanksgiving of 1986. We had a big week of training scheduled, and on one particular day (perhaps it was Thanksgiving) our coach Muffy Ritz had an ‘overdistance’ workout on the schedule for us. This type of training session is long, but at low intensity; typically at least two and a half hours, but sometimes much longer. We decided to ski from our motel into Yellowstone National Park on the park road, which is closed to cars and open to snowmobile traffic during the winter. We started in the morning and skied for quite a distance into the park, and I think we all had the thought in the back of our minds that we probably ought to be turning around soon or we were going to get so far into the park that we might run out of energy and face a death march back to town again. But every turn in the park road revealed a new view and we kept saying, ‘We’ll just go to the end of this straight away and then we’ll turn around…’ But our curiosity about what was around the next bend kept getting the better of us, and we kept going and going, further and further into the park. Finally, the way I remember it (and the other Nordies from the ’87 team can tell me if I’m wrong), we arrived at Fountain Paint Pots, 22 miles from our motel. Finally, we’d reached a good turnaround spot. It was at that very moment that I realized I was starting to bonk.
‘Bonking’ is when you deplete the glycogen stored in your body, and you start running out of energy – quickly. We started skiing back toward home, but it soon started getting difficult for me to keep up with the group. I started falling farther and farther behind, and my bonk was just getting deeper and deeper with every mile. Eventually, the team couldn’t wait for me any longer and they went on ahead toward home. Meanwhile, I was going slower and slower as the afternoon wore on, but I kept pushing forward, and getting closer to town, ever so slowly. The final straightaway on the road into town is a very long one, and I could see the lights of West Yellowstone in the distance. It was beginning to get dark, and I was eager to get back, but I’d bonked so hard that I was reduced to skiing about 100 meters at a time, then stopping and sitting down in the snowbank beside the road for a minute or two until I could gather enough energy to ski another 100 meters before sitting down again. Eventually, I stumbled all the way back into town. When I stopped to sit down and rest for a moment on the sidewalk before taking off my skis to walk the two blocks to our motel, I saw Coach Muffy and my teammate Jason Tillinghast ‘87 walking toward me, wearing headlamps and carrying their skis. They were on their way back out to look for me. They’d been back a long time, and had showered and eaten, but after I’d failed to appear back at the motel, and with darkness falling, they figured they’d better put their ski clothes on and go back out to find me.
This was one extreme example, but my year at GMVS was full of boundary-pushing experiences, due mostly to the fact that Muffy Ritz was our coach. From Muffy, all us Nordies learned that we could do a lot more, and ski a lot faster than we thought we could, and that our limits were considerably beyond where we had previously assumed they were.
My year at GMVS changed the direction of my life at a critical moment, and I’ll always appreciate that.”
Adam reflected on this lesson and more in his article for Faster Skier, titled “Letters to My Younger Self”. You can check out the full story here: https://fasterskier.com/2021/12/letters-to-my-younger-self-adam-verrier-and-taming-fire/.