Chris Woodard hasn't let a lack of snow prevent him from pursuing his passion.
In last week's Detroit Lakes nordic skiing invitational, the Brainerd sophomore skied to first place in the pursuit race with a time of 25 minutes, 30 seconds.
Woodard said conditions were favorable considering the lack of snow in the state this winter.
"They must have had a lot of snow before," he said, "because it was really warm the day before. They lost a little snow but that day it cooled down a lot. It was super windy, I don't know what the wind chill was but it was extremely cold.
"The snow actually was pretty good. There were no bare spots. It was all natural snow."
It was only the third meet of the season for Brainerd, which is ranked ninth in the state and has had four meets canceled because of inadequate snow conditions. The Warriors' Jan. 23 meet at French Rapids likely will be scratched unless there is a snowstorm. Friday's meet could be the only race before the conference (Jan. 30), section (Feb. 5) and state (Feb. 14) meets.
Chris Woodard profile
Sport -- Nordic skiing
Year -- Sophomore
Age -- 16
Height -- 5-foot-7
Weight -- 134 pounds
Other sports -- Cross country running, track and field
Grade-point average -- 4.0
Memorable sports achievement -- Placing 40th in 2002 state freestyle ski race
Favorite subject -- Math
Favorite movie -- "Dumb and Dumber"
Hobbies -- Playing broomball
Athlete he admires -- Teammate Ty Hunt
Parents -- Mike and Debbie Woodard
Woodard said the team skis on a lake or golf course whenever possible. Otherwise, the team runs at practice.
"It's not as frustrating for me," Woodard said of the lack of snow. "I already have the technique, but for people just learning, it's got to be hard on them, not being able to ski every day."
Warriors coach Chris Hanson said Woodard's race at Detroit Lakes proved he can be successful despite challenging conditions.
"Also, last week's result showed he's a tactical racer," Hanson said. "He raced that one intelligently. That's one of the things that makes him a better skier. Chris has natural talent. What he's gaining now is race experience and race smarts.
"Chris has a cardiovascular engine, a kinesthetic awareness that makes him the racer he is. Combine that natural ability with race experience, which comes from cross country running, and he's developed, not just as an athlete, but as a racer.
"Right now he's the best skier in our conference, and one of the best in the section. To take the next step to being one of the best in the state ... all it takes now is hard work."
Last winter, Woodard was the Warriors' only state qualifier, finishing 40th in the freestyle race.
"Last year he was our best skier, and our only state qualifier, as a freshman," Hanson said. "I think sometimes the team looks to their best skier as a leader. That can be a lot of pressure for a freshman or sophomore. Fortunately, Chris has some maturity to go along with talent and that makes him successful. He's got the added expectations of being a team leader."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Christina Roberts, nordic skiing, won the girls' division at the Detroit Lakes Invitational.
Kathleen Lorenz, gymnastics, won two events and the all-around vs. Sartell.
Jake Phillips, boys basketball, had 24 points vs. Sauk Rapids.
Shaun Kennedy, diving, won the University of Minnesota Invitational.
Tom Zelinske and Andy Pickar, wrestling, won all three of their matches in the Kiffmeyer Duals at St. Cloud Tech.
Erin Holznagel, girls hockey, had a hat trick and assist vs. Little Falls.
Matt Schmitz, swimming, won four events and was a member of four first-place relays in a double dual vs. Bemidji and Grand Rapids.
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