Ski to Sea Team Advocates for Women―and a Mountain-Bike Leg
Kirsten Jensen has been participating in the Ski to Sea relay race for four years as a part of an all-women’s
team. But not just any women’s team. Many of its members are part of Queens of Dirt, a year-round mountain bike and cyclocross race team. For Ski to Sea, the team is called Jack’s Bicycle Center. Most of the women are in their mid-20s to early 40s, and have a passion for engaging young women in racing. “For us, racing does more for women than just racing, it builds confidence, and gives them a sense of resilience,” Jensen said.
The annual race, a roughly 90-mile relay from Mt. Baker to its bell-ringing finish at Bellingham’s Marine Park, has been contested in its current format since 1973. It consists of eight-person teams competing in seven different sports: crosscountry skiing, downhill skiing/snowboarding, running, road cycling, canoeing, cyclocross biking, and sea kayaking.
On May 28th, Jensen’s team will try to continue its string of successful finishes — the team has placed second and third in past years. That’s no easy task. The team began participating in the race as part of the Whatcom County Women’s Division, but moved to the competitive women’s division two years ago because members wanted to include friends from Skagit County. But it really isn’t about winning, Jensen said. “We are not an intense team. Our main goal is just to have fun and do your best.”
Not only is the team diverse in age, team members come from different backgrounds. “We have some moms, professionals, journalists, it’s really a mix,” she said. But what they do all have in common is a strong hope for the return of a mountain biking leg to the Ski to Sea course, Jensen said.
After the grueling relay race, teams are welcomed at the Historic Fairhaven Festival. The all-day street party is free to the public and hosts live music, a beer and wine garden, food vendors, and plenty of activities. The Ski to Sea relay, coupled with the Historic Fairhaven Festival, make up the largest one-day event in Whatcom County and brings visitors not only from throughout the Pacific Northwest, but from around the world.
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