How does a 55-year-old drugstore owner from the snowless Texas plains become the nation’s fastest recreational racer? It took nearly 20 years of perfecting his turns—even training with in-line skates on an interstate ramp—for Pecos pharmacist JOHN REDIGER to earn an amazing 1 handicap rating in Nastar (National Standard Ski Race). Now, two years later, after a year off from injury, Rediger’s back in the game.
Born September 9, 1942 (Age 57)
In The Beginning “There was an 8-foot asphalt ramp outside my dad’s pharmacy when I was a kid. He gave me 2-foot skis, and I practiced on it. I didn’t ski on real snow until I was 25, at Ruidoso, N.M.”
What The Wife Says “Landa claims I’m so crazy about skiing, I’d be a ski bum if I could. I won my first Nastar medal, a bronze at Taos in 1976, and never looked back.”
What It Cost “When I was training hardest for Nastar, I skied about 60 days a year. I gate-trained at Whistler and Mt. Hood, with Billy Kidd at Steamboat and again with him in Zermatt during summer. I made a frame full of my Nastar medals and pins, including a No. 1 racing bib that Billy gave me in the early Eighties. I showed it to him four years ago and said, ‘Here’s about $100,000 in training!'”
Billy’s Brainstorm “Riding on the train from Zermatt with Billy Kidd in 1982, I said, ‘Billy, what in the world am I gonna do off-season?’ He answered, ‘Get yourself Rollerblades, fix some gates on a hill, and practice.’ Well, there are no hills in Pecos, so I trained on a seldom-traveled interstate exit ramp.”
Biggest Snafu “I used paint cans for gates. My wife served as a spotter. If she saw a car coming, we picked up the cans and got ’em out of the way. Once, I went by myself. A car, driven by an older woman, hit a can, and chocolate-colored paint flew all over the highway and on her wheels.”
The Pain Of Victory “I’ve broken a leg, ribs and my clavicle running gates. If someone had said before I started, ‘Now, John, these are the injuries you’re gonna suffer; do you want to do this sport?’ I’d have said, ‘Yes—in a heartbeat.'”