Sometimes the mere introduction to a sport plants a competitive seed, carrying a young athlete on a path to success. That was the case for 17-year-old Woody Martineau, a Crested Butte Junior Nordic Team athlete and junior at Crested Butte Community School. Martineau’s introduction to competitive Nordic skiing came via participation in biathlon through what is now Crested Butte Nordic’s Explorer Program.
At first, the biathlon was simply something Martineau enjoyed doing for fun with friends. But it lit a fire in him. “I was looking for more competitive options, and so I joined the competitive team,” he recalled. His first race was a 5-kilometer skate event five years ago in Crested Butte. That race spurred a desire on the part of the young athlete to continue improving in the sport. “Woody is super internally motivated,” said coach Molly Susla. “He knows what he wants to accomplish each year. He goes for it, and generally he gets there.” Since that first race, Martineau has made a name for himself in the Rocky Mountain Junior Nordic Division — as well as among competitors across the country. “I feel like I’m a better racer when it comes to skate,” Martineau explained. “And definitely the longer the race, the better I do.”
By ninth grade, Martineau qualified for Junior Nationals for the first time — going on to place fifth at nationals in the 5K skate competition and 21st in the 5K classic.
“It kind of changed my mentality,” he said of the results. “I realized I could really do well at this sport if I started putting in the time.”
Last season, Martineau qualified for nationals again, but a move into an older age class meant stiffer competition. Nonetheless, he finished 15th in 10K classic and 20th in 10K skate. Martineau calls the annual journey to nationals — located in different places across the country each year — the “most fun week of the year” for him. “You get to spend a week completely dedicated to racing well,” he explained. “And you’re surrounded by other people from Colorado and around the nation who are dedicated to the same things as you. I’ve been able to form connections with people from around the state and around the country, which has been awesome. And of course racing is the best part.”
Martineau’s athletic achievements have been aided by scholarships from Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation over the last three years. The foundation’s mission is to provide financial support for the youth in Crested Butte and Gunnison in their pursuit of sportsmanship, passion, excellence and discipline through snow sport experiences.
This year, Martineau hopes for a podium finish at nationals, and he’s trained hard to make it happen. That includes six days of training per week. A typical day includes school from 8:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m., after which he rides his bike to the Nordic Center and skis for up to two hours — technique sessions with teammates and intervals by himself or alongside members of Western State Colorado University’s Nordic team, which Martineau said helps keep him motivated.
This past summer, he used running and roller skiing to maintain fitness during the off-season. Chemistry is Martineau’s favorite subject, and he dreams of pursuing a degree in chemical or electrical engineering while possibly skiing competitively. “I’d really like to compete in college,” he said.
(This article is part of a series of profiles provided by Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation that will appear throughout this winter season.)