Shawn Sharrow was sorely disappointed by the lack of snow at Mt. Baker Ski Area, but the avid skier wasn’t about to let the cancellation of both ski legs bother him for this year’s Ski to Sea.
“I’m actually excited over the opportunity to do the first really good mountain bike leg,” he said of one of the two replacement legs for cross-country and downhill skiing.
“I love both skiing and mountain biking,” he said.
Sharrow, a 33-year-old Mount Vernon resident and lifelong skier, first competed in the 2011 Ski to Sea and continued as the downhill skier in the next three races.
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The team, which has named itself Burninating the Snowpack this year, has evolved into a cherished family event, with five Sharrows and three other close family friends participating.
“We thought in 2011 that it would be a one-off thing, but we enjoyed the race so much we’ve just kept on going,” he said. “As for the cross-country ski leg, we’ve had to have a different person do that each year, so nobody on our team will miss it.”
However, even though Sharrow, the chief operating officer at the family business Round Table Pizza, is now competing in what has become the last leg, he said he will feel no pressure.
“We’re one woman short of being in the mixed division, so we’re in the recreational division, just to have fun,” he said. “We see the race as a great celebration of all the recreational activities Bellingham has to offer. We‘re more about getting through our legs and getting to that beer garden.”
The team will have a new Sharrow fan on hand. Shawn and his wife, cross-country biker Tara Sharrow, are the parents of 8-month-old daughter Charlotte Scotti Sharrow.
The team also has trail runner Crystal Baumunk, road runner David Ohms, road biker Evelyn Sharrow (Shawn’s mother), canoe racers Marc Sharrow (Shawn’s father) and Casey Sharrow (Shawn’s younger brother), and sea kayaker Joe Walter.
“David Ohms was actually the guy who inspired us to begin our team,” Sharrow said. “When he was a college student in Texas, he wrote a report on the race.”
Sharrow’s parents and brother joined in 2012.
“Our first race inspired my parents,” he said. ‘We just kind of talked them into it. Now our race party is a true family affair.”
One of the team’s members in its first year was Sharrow’s friend Curtis Anson. Anson’s race experience eventually led to greater and greater involvement in the classic event, as he’s now in his first year as race director.
“Curtis was assistant race director last year,” Sharrow said. “He misses competing in the race, but he really wanted the chance to direct the race.”
Sharrow recalls how he “suffered a lot” when no one told him he had to hike up the mountain for the downhill skiing leg during his first Ski to Sea in 2011. But he made it and has loved the event ever since.
The Sharrow family has a cabin on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, so they are genuine outdoors enthusiasts.
“That’s about the only other place I can think of that could offer a race like Ski to Sea,” he said.