Eight Mount Baker Ski Patrol members, given a chance to compete together for the first time at Ski to Sea, might give the Corporate Division defending champion Bellingham Firefighters a little more competition than they might have expected.
"We have combined the best athletes from our three (previous) Ski to Sea ski patrol teams to take a run at the Corporate Division championship," said Mike Trowbridge, a professional ski patrol member who will be the new team's road biker.
Of course, Trowbridge added, "One way or the other, it's going to be fun. Our main objective, as always, is to have fun."
Trowbridge, a 37-year-old Sehome High graduate, is accustomed to wearing different hats. In addition to being a professional leader in the ski patrol, he's operations manager at the Mount Baker Ski Area and is a member of the Whatcom Events Board.
He's been a competitive cyclist for 27 years -- who involved in road biking, mountain biking and cyclocross and races with the Fanatik Cycling Team -- and has won more than his share of honors. And he is also accustomed to good showings at Ski to Sea.
At Sehome, he was a member of first- and second-place teams in the High School Division, taking the title as a senior in the Class of 1994. He also has competed on numerous high finishers with the Mount Baker mixed team in Ski to Sea, including Whatcom Mixed Division champion.
Can the new Mount Baker Ski Patrol team compete with the best in its division?
"I think so, but it's tough to tell," said Trowbridge. "I know we're certainly not going to compete with (Whatcom Open Division) Beaver's Tree Service or Click's. But we're all veterans of Ski to Sea. We'll give it a shot in the Corporate Division."
Jeff Davis and Walter Channel will handle the cross country ski and downhill ski legs, respectively. Chuck Foster, a search-and-rescue member, will follow as the runner and Trowbridge will be the road biker.
Dave May, who is the volunteer ski patrol director, and Kevin Kaiser will be canoeists and will hand off to mountain biker Jeremy Stafford. Ben Williamson, the only other professional ski patroller besides Trowbridge, will man the kayak.
The other six members are volunteers with the ski patrol.
Ironically, for as much as he has always loved skiing, Trowbridge has never done a ski leg on any Ski to Sea team.
"It has just worked out that way. But in high school, I was anti-social," he said with a laugh. "Because I would spend so much time on the mountain."
The new Ski Patrol team is made of guys ranging from their 20s to their 50s.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.