Ski race doubles as math lesson

(l-r) Sherman P., Li’Tavius M., Phillip G. and Kemari W. prepare to start the Peace Coffee Pre-Loppet on Sunday, January 11. The young athletes compete on the Loppet Foundation’s middle school ski and bike team at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School. 
(l-r) Sherman P., Li’Tavius M., Phillip G. and Kemari W. prepare to start the Peace Coffee Pre-Loppet on Sunday, January 11. The young athletes compete on the Loppet Foundation’s middle school ski and bike team at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School. 

Nellie Stone Johnson Middle School Ski & Bike team practices are often about creativity: climbing hills to take jumps, building obstacle courses and playing ski-ball. But on race day it is all about math, because ultimately racing is about numbers.

Skiing is not standardized like in track, and we really do not think about personal records or even time. What is really important is the percent of time back from the winner. At last year’s Junior Loppet, the Nellie Stone Johnson (NSJ) racers were 10-30 minutes behind the winner of the three-kilometer race. At the Peace Coffee Pre-Loppet, the NSJ athletes had closed that gap to three-to-10 minutes.

Donovan Blatcher, the top NSJ skier, was 15 minutes closer to the winner than he had been at last year’s Junior Loppet. Overall, the NSJ athletes crushed the Peace Coffee Pre-Loppet.

Jon Miller is head coach at Nellie Stone Johnson Middle School