A week and change into January and Bradford Morrison, one of the state’s best slalom skiers, has yet to ski in a race.
Injuries and illness — a leg injury and appendicitis – have conspired to keep Morrison sidelined, but his return is imminent and his timing could scarcely be better.
Morrison’s debut will come Friday at the Buck Hill Invitational in Burnsville. His return, combined with the presence of teammates Mac Bendixon and Jackson Zilverberg, make the Spartans a team to be reckoned with.
Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Morrison about skiing in Minnesota and his plans for the rest of the season.
Q: How are you feeling now?
A: I lost about 15 pounds so I haven’t been in the best of shape, but I’ve caught up pretty quickly.
Q: What’s your biggest concern?
A: It’s probably the mental part of the skiing. In skiing, one mistake does matter a lot.
Q: When did you start skiing?
A: Since I was about 5 years old. It’s my number one sport. I ski on a club team and my high school team. It take up most of my time.
Q: What club?
A: The Buck Hill Ski Club. I’ve been on the club for about eight years. It’s really helped in building my racing ability. The coach staff there are people with Olympic and World Cup experience. They’re really good.
Q: When you ski outside of Minnesota, do you take any grief for coming from a place with no real mountains?
A: Yes. What they make fun of us for is our slalom ability. What’s funny about that is slalom is our specialty. The hills are small so we get so many more repetitions. And the key to training in the slalom is repetition. You need as many as you can get.
Q: Outside of Buck Hill, what’s your favorite place to ski?
A: That’s easy — Snowmass in Colorado. I’ve been skiing there since I was 7. I like to explore. I’m a big back-country and woods skier.
Q: How about in Minnesota?
A: Lutsen. I like having long runs instead of getting on a chair lift every 45 seconds.
Q: Are there any advantages to skiing in Minnesota?
A: We usually don’t have the best conditions like they do out West. We ski in whatever we have — rain and cold and all sorts of things they don’t get. It does help a lot.
Q: What is one thing you cannot ski without?
A: Surprisingly, it’s the right socks. Socks play a big part in it. If they’re too thick, your feet sweat and you get colder. I prefer thinner socks so my feet stay neutral to the weather.
Q: Is high school skiing important to you?
A: My dad won the state high school championship when he was in school. I think it was 1985. My parents met while ski racing. It’s important.
Q: What do you like about high school skiing?
A: The cool thing is that it’s a team sport. Everyone contributes. If I’m skiing in a USSA or an FIS race, I might be going 95 percent. In high school, it’s more like 80 percent because you don’t want to make a mistake and mess it up for the team.
Q: Can you win a state title?
A: I’m going to go for it. I think I have a shot, but I have to take into consideration my team as well. Team has a chance to be on the podium like last year, when we got third in state. That’s the big goal.