Soccer mom scores big in race against Tomba
A lot of people might say 47 is a little late to start ski racing, but those people probably don’t know Anne Knudson-Fitzpatrick.
Knudson-Fitzpatrick, a Truckee mother of two and self-described “soccer mom,” has done just that, taking first place in a race which pitted amateur racers against one of the greatest names in ski history: Italy’s Alberto Tomba.
At Squaw Valley’s Lexus/Rosignol Tomba Tour ski race Saturday, Knudson-Fitzpatrick took first place against other female skiers, including former Olympian and Squaw resident Tamara McKinney.
Knudson-Fitzpatrick qualified with a morning run, but was surprised to hear that she had made it to the head to head race against Tomba.
“I was hoping my kids would qualify,” she said of 8-year-old Tess and 13-year-old Ryan. “I was sitting there talking and on the loudspeaker they announced my name and Ryan said, ‘Mom, that’s you.’ Then a hundred people turned around and started saying, ‘Let’s go, mom! Let’s go mom!’ Everyone was cheering me as I was going up the hill.”
She said she was nervous and didn’t want to go up to the gate without one of her children to provide moral support. When she was told there was no room on the snowmobile, her children gave her encouragement and she started praying.
Once up there, she realized she was in the presence of greatness.
“I thanked Alberto for the opportunity and for inspiring my kids,” she said. “I also told him not to beat me too bad.”
Knudson-Fitzpatrick said Tomba is the quintessential competitor.
“He was out like a rocket. It was awesome to watch him race.”
Though she didn’t beat Tomba – after all, the winner in the male division was Franz Weber, the one-time fastest man on skis – she still won the women’s division.
“It was the fastest race of my life,” said Knudson-Fitzpatrick, who moved to Truckee from St. Louis last year. “I was thinking I didn’t want to wimp out and I wanted to show my kids you have to face your fears.”
Knudson-Fitzpatrick said it is hard for her to believe she performed so well, despite the odds.
“Here I am, carpool mom with no racing outfit,” she said. “We had been skiing all day before that.”
More amazing is the fact that, at 47, Knudson-Fitzpatrick is re-entering ski racing after several years’ absence from the sport, and is planning to compete in some upcoming masters’ races.
She said she only gets out to practice on weekends and the rare weekday, and is often distracted with the profession of being a mother.
“I’ll think, ‘I should train,’ but then I think, ‘no, I should go to the grocery store or the hardware store,'” she said. “Other masters I run into are training all the time.”
She came to Truckee with her two children and husband (who still commutes between St. Louis and Truckee) last year. They lived in Los Angeles before that.
She discovered Truckee while visiting her brother, Eric, who works with the rescue dogs at Squaw Valley.
“I came up and skied Squaw many years,” she said. “We fell in love with Truckee. It’s such a community oriented town and it fits us perfectly.”
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The Truckee girls’ cross-country team raced to a runner-up finish at today’s Class 3A Northern League championships.