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Who’s competing in Ski to Sea 2023?

Novices to longtimers get ready for 'Bellingham Olympics'

By Andy Bronson Staff Photographer

Racers are getting ready for the 50th anniversary of Bellingham’s biggest event, Ski to Sea.

Cascadia Daily News sat down with a handful of racers to find out why they’re competing, the source of their nerves and more. 

photo  Sydney Papritz will compete for The PeaceHealth Pathfinders in the cross-country ski leg of Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Sydney Papritz, 21

Leg: Cross-country ski

Team: The PeaceHealth Pathfinders

Residence: Bellingham

Years raced: 0

What are you most nervous about/what is most difficult about your leg?: I’m most nervous about waking up on time … and getting sunburnt.

Why are you racing?: I’m racing because I’ve heard amazing things about Ski to Sea, and I want to see what all the hype is about.

What are you most excited about in your race leg?: I’m most excited to be on an all-ladies crew and to celebrate a job well done afterwards.


photo  Jasmine Neubauer will compete for Loud Water in the downhill ski leg of Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Jasmine Neubauer, 27

Leg: Downhill ski

Team: Loud Water

Residence: Bellingham

Years raced: 0

What are you most nervous about/what is most difficult about your leg?: The hike is going to be a challenge, but that’s what it’s all about.

Why are you racing?: To spend time outside with friends and maybe meet some new ones!

What are you most excited about in your race leg?: Spring skiing! Hoping we get some sun.


photo  Drew Barnicle will compete for My Dog in the running leg of Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Drew Barnicle, 25

Leg: Running

Team: My Dog

Residence: Bellingham

Years raced: 0

What are you most nervous about/what is most difficult about your leg?: When I’m 50 and having knee problems I think I’ll be able to point directly to this race as the cause. That will be the most difficult thing to live with. 


Why are you racing?: To spend time outside with friends and maybe meet some new ones!

What are you most excited about in your race leg?: Getting to run downhill, sounds like less work than running up!

Why inspired your team name?: Well nobody wants to say “I beat my dog.” Not a great look. 


photo  Thiran Udawatta will race in the road bike leg for team Orthocillin in Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Thiran Udawatta, 33

Leg: Road bike

Team: Orthocillin

Residence: Bellingham

Years raced: 0

Why are you racing?: Last year I volunteered at the Ski to Sea run-to-bike handoff. This also coincided with the first year that my wife and I lived in Bellingham. It was such a memorable time to be a part of an event that really brings the community together. It inspired me to participate in the race this year and for my own team. Our team is composed of some close friends as well as some new people, which really serves as a reflection of what Ski to Sea is to me. It is an event that has been bringing the Bellingham community together for 50 years now.

Why inspired your team name?: Our team’s name is a portmanteau of the word orthopedics and penicillin. I am an orthopedic surgeon in the community and about half of our team is made up of medical people. It is an inside joke in the medical community. Prior to most surgical procedures, antibiotics are administered. Most orthopedic surgeons prescribe a penicillin derivative for these procedures. We almost always use the same penicillin derivative antibiotic and rarely deviate from this medication. So it became synonymous with orthopedics as one of the few antibiotics we routinely remember!


photo  Greg Fosty, left, and Mike Baker will compete for Chuckanut Bay Distillery in the canoe leg of Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Greg Fosty, 62, and Mike Baker, 63

Leg: Canoe

Team: Chuckanut Bay Distillery

Residence: Bellingham

Years raced: 27

What are you most nervous about/what is most difficult about your leg?: Capsizing! I hate capsizing as we’ve done it two or three times over the years. The first 2 miles are always a challenge, and if you get past those unscathed, then the rest of the river is technically easy. — Greg

Why are you racing?: Fun, fitness, longevity. — Mike

What are you most excited about in your race leg?: Getting on the river and engaging in the race after hundreds of miles of training. — Mike

Why inspired your team name?: We were lucky to have the opportunity to be sponsored by Chuckanut Bay Distillery. We approached Kelly Andrews a few years ago and he was gracious to sponsor us. Prior to the sponsorship, we raced under the name of The Well Hung Jury. At that time, our team was made up of courthouse employees and people associated with the courthouse. — Greg


photo  Nathan Critchfield will compete for Puget Sound Energy in the cyclocross leg of Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Nathan Critchfield, 23

Leg: Cyclocross

Team: Puget Sound Energy

Residence: Bellingham

Years raced: 0

What are you most nervous about/what is most difficult about your leg?: I really just anticipate those nerves of excitement, which is a classic feeling at the start of any bike race. Might have some difficulty falling asleep the night before but that just means I’m too excited. 

What are you most excited about in your race leg?: Stoked to ride a course that I don’t know at all. There’s a certain thrill with going as fast as possible and just reacting to what’s around each corner.


photo  Heather Nelson will compete for BNP Realtors in the sea kayak leg of Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Heather Nelson, 51

Leg: Sea kayak

Team: BNP Realtors

Residence: Bellingham

Years raced: 18

What are you most nervous about/what is most difficult about your leg?: Being the anchor leg is exciting and fun, but also a ton of pressure, too. At a minimum, [we have to] hold our position, or if possible move us up. Everyone in the gates waiting for their cyclocross rider to come in is laughing and joking, but also sizing each other up. It’s awesome!

Why are you racing?: I love Ski to Sea! I am passionate about racing Whatcom County women. There are so many amazing, strong and inspiring women right here, that I may never meet because we do different sports, and I love that Ski to Sea has brought us together. Ski to Sea is the Bellingham Olympics, right? The energy is addicting. I love being in the heart of it. 

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