Chippewa Falls’ Frank Lowry likes to stay active.
It doesn’t matter to the 52-year old if it’s 80 degrees outside or zero. In all likelihood he’ll be dealing with the latter this weekend when he competes in the 43K Nordic Skiing event at the Nine Mile Recreation Area near Wausau as a part of the 26th annual Badger State Winter Games.
It’s the final weekend of the three-week state winter games schedule that brings some of the best winter athletes from around the state to the Wausau area to compete in over a dozen events.
But this weekend’s BSWG won’t be Lowry’s first rodeo. He’s been competing in events all around the state since first taking up the sport of skiing over two decades ago.
At the time he simply wanted something to do to help keep him busy and in shape during the cold Wisconsin winters. Then he heard about one of the Wisconsin winter athletic staple events — The American Birkebeiner.
“When I finished college and was working in the area I had heard about the Birkebeiner,” Lowry said. “I was training for triathlons and I wanted to do something in the winter other than work out at the gym.”
The Birkebeiner is one of the most popular nordic ski marathons in the country, drawing thousands of competitors each year to the race that runs from Cable to Hayward.
He competed in his first Birkebeiner in 1989 and it has been his go-to winter activity ever since. But Lowry doesn’t limit himself to just the Birkie, he’s competed in races around the state. This weekend he’ll take to the snow on the Nine Mile Recreation Area as a part of the BSWG, an event he’s no stranger to.
Lowry said he’ll know many people he will be competing against and said his overall finish isn’t as important as where he ends up relative to those he knows.
“I like to ski well and when I see people that I know that I’ve skied against I look at their times and see how they fared,” Lowry said.
He used to spend his summers competing in triathlons but has changed his focus towards cycling for the warm time of the year. But his primarily exercise during the frigid months has stayed with skiing.
Lowry said that training for the events he skis in each year is a lot easier thanks to the variety of ski trails in the area. He’ll spend his time zipping through the snow at Irvine Park, Tower Ridge in Eau Claire County, the Blue Hills Trail System north of Bruce and many others in the area. That variety of trails helps keep things fresh and keeps him going out.
“You can’t let your body detrain too much,” Lowry said. “You want to take some time off, but not a month or more.”
In addition, Lowry has helped out in the past with the Chippewa Valley Nordic ski team, a club dedicated to helping youths in the area learn to ski.
As Lowry prepares for this weekend’s Badger State Winter Games, he’ll do so with next month’s Birkebeiner well in his sights. The 2014 edition of the Birkie is under a month away and this weekend will serve as a key tuneup.
“I thought skiing would be a good change of pace and so it was a combination of the allure of the Birkebeiner along with another way to stay in shape,” Lowry said.