When Stowe, Vt., resident Lyndall Heyer rallied her friends to form an all-women's ski team in 1994, nobody paid much attention. But the local competition soon discovered the team of six forty-something Stowe moms-Heyer, C.C. Teague Luce, Tiana Tutt Adams, Mary Seaton Brush, Gayle Susselin Erdman and Ellen Hall Adams-was no gaggle of ordinary housewives. All but Adams were once U.S. Ski Team members. Brush is an ex-Olympian, Heyer and Teague former World Cup racers. Heyer also had great success on the women's U.S. Pro Tour in the Eighties. And these fast mothers have emerged from ski racing retirement to bang gates at the AIG U.S. Olympic Ski Challenge, Stowe's annual fund-raiser for Olympic hopefuls (Jan. 8-11).
Even though they've hung up their professional bibs, these women still have racing in their blood. Brush, now a mother of two, explains, "It never goes away." It's just that now the women have other obligations to consider. "We don't want to take too much risk because we've gotta go home and change diapers," Heyer said.
In its inaugural year, the team's fiercest competition was "The Dream Team," a group of men who were ex-University of Vermont racers and coaches. The women shocked the field, blowing away most of the competition and placing third. In 1995, the women again gave the Dream Team a good scare, registering a close second.
And in January 1996, when the fast mothers returned, they took the challenge a bit more seriously. "We're here to win," Heyer said prankishly at the pre-race dinner, her two kids tugging at her shirt. In Vermont, a state that's crawling with ex-ski racers, the competition is understandably intense as old gate-bashers seek new glory. Naturally, the men took more notice of the Cabot Creamery Extra Sharp (The Sharpies), as the six moms dubbed their team. When the results were in at day's end, the women had performed flawlessly, again annihilating the competition-except for the Dream Team. Once again, the not-so-old boys edged them out of first place. At the awards banquet, Heyer revealed her team's race strategy: "Be consistent and hope the men make mistakes." But might not the fast mothers themselves screw up? Heyer flashed a disapproving maternal scowl at such a suggestion. "We're mothers," she said. "We never make mistakes!"
The moms took 1997 off to give the boys a rest, but they'll be back this year. For AIG U.S. Olympic Ski Challenge information, call (800) 253-4SKI.