Carter Hall is our third and final guest in a series of skiers-turned-mountain-bike-racers to kick off this podcast — the Ruka Triple of podcasting, if you will, except that there’s more than three hours of daylight, and hopefully you find our content more interesting than the unseasoned whitefish and boiled potatoes prevalent in Finnish dining halls. Seriously, though, Hall neatly ties together this series, while complementing the thoughts of first JR Wessling and then Evan Arthur before him.
Hall grew up in Yarmouth, Maine; I tentatively peg him as the second most accomplished endurance athlete to come out of the town of 9,000 just outside of Portland, behind only Sophia Laukli. Hall attended Burke Mountain Academy for high school, then skied collegiately at Colby.
While Hall’s senior-year profile on the Colby College ski team page suggests that his post-graduation plans involved “moving to Norway to pursue skiing and a master’s degree,” that was written in fall 2019, and the world looked a little different than expected when spring 2020 and college graduation rolled around.
To make a long story short, Hall instead ended up moving to Bozeman, where he stayed involved with skiing by working as a wax tech for the BSF Pro Team. Many people come out of college athletics uncertain what they want to do next in sports and life; fewer people end up making the UCI World Cup for mountain biking while also working long hours as a wax tech. In a different sport.
As you might expect from this varied background, Hall has thoughts on the contrasts between, and transitions among, various forms of endurance sport. He addresses some of the biggest differences between ski racing and bike racing, the role of mountain biking in ski training, and, yes, who’s most romantically suave between the sports, among other things.
I wouldn’t quite call any of these answers hot taeks (rendering such an impression as a taek means that it is extra-hot), but some of them may, in all seriousness, surprise you.
For example, Hall points out that mountain biking is fine for ski training in the abstract — but that, unless multiple people on a single ski team are perfectly matched in their biking skills, someone is going to end up doing a lot of sitting around and waiting, and/or someone is going to end up killing themselves in high L3 to keep up. Or that the camaraderie of skiing is truly a delight, and a lovely part of the sport — but that if you always do intensity in a group, you may find yourself lost when the wheels come off in a mass start race, let alone for the entirety of an interval-start race. Interesting stuff here.
There’s more, much more; hopefully you enjoy it. And can hear it; I know that Hall comes through pretty faintly, and that both speakers sound pretty echo-y at times. We will be upgrading our production quality somewhat before our next episodes.
Speaking of programming notes, this episode concludes a three-part look at skiers who came from disparate backgrounds to the UCI mountain bike World Cup. As the calendar turns to November and ski season approaches, look for a shift to more self-evidently nordic ski–centric guests. Coming next will be Novie McCabe and Ben Ogden, on making the transition from NCAA skiing to full-time World Cup racing.
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— Gavin Kentch