DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW ... Jennifer Britz of Bar Harbor placed first in women’s 40-49 Masters racing for Team USA women at the 2019 World Snowshoe Championship in Val di Non, Italy on Jan. 5. The region has been having a mild winter and snow had to be trucked onto the race course. PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER BRITZ

Snowshoeing to victory

BAR HARBOR — Jennifer Britz of Bar Harbor became the snowshoeing world champion in her age division earlier this month.

She finished first in the women’s 40-49 Masters category at the 2019 World Snowshoe Championships in Italy on Jan. 5. She finished the 7-kilometer course in 40 minutes and 11.64 seconds. Overall, Team USA women finished strong, placing 2nd out of the 29 countries competing.

The races were hosted by La Ciaspolada in Val di Non, Italy. The winding course was in a valley with views of the Brenta Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Maddalene Mountains, according to the website of the World Snowshoe Organization, which organizes the event.

Unlike Bar Harbor, Val di Non was experiencing a mild winter. Snow had to be carted in to make the snowshoe course.

“There was a ribbon of white snow that they had trucked in and laid down on the track,” Britz said.

The snow was deep throughout the course, though: about one meter. The course ended in the town, she said, so the snow was packed into the narrow roads of Val di Non.

For Britz, it was a long road to the World Snowshoe Championships. An avid runner and trail racer, she first tried snowshoe racing in 2012 after winning a free entry into a snowshoe series at Bradbury Mountain State Park. “I got snowshoes and tried it, and loved it!” she said.

Last March she raced at the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships in Prospect, VT, where she placed 6th and earned a spot on the U.S.A. women’s team and was invited to go to the World Snowshoe Championships.

The snowshoe team is not yet officially recognized by U.S. Track and Field, Britz said, so they don’t have the funding to pay for travel for team members. Friends encouraged her to set up a fundraising website and offered to donate.

“I thank everyone so much for donating,” she said. With the money raised, she was able to cover her airfare, lodging, and food.

Meanwhile, she spent the year training for the race. Knowing she would be in a mountainous region of Italy, she said, “I spent most of the summer running up and down mountains.”

She later got more details about the course: that it would be packed snow, and would favor fast racers. That meant she needed to switch up her training plan, logging faster miles on the carriage roads in Acadia.

In December, she made the most of the snowfalls and got two snowshoe runs in. “I tried to log… faster miles for whatever the conditions were. I had to be ready for everything.”

Next up, Britz plans to race in the National Championships this March in Cable, Wis. to try out for the U.S.A. women’s team again. After that, she will likely start training for next year’s World Snowshoe Championships in Japan.

Britz said she would “love to see more kids getting involved” in the sport. She said there is also a junior championship, though there are far fewer juniors racing than adults. She would like to see more, to ensure that the sport continues.

“If you can run, you can run in snowshoes,” she said. Plus, it’s a good way to “get out there and enjoy the woods.”

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

Latest posts by Becky Pritchard (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.