Clayton Twamley’s cross-country ski journey with the 100 Mile Nordics has come full circle.
Twamley learned to ski and race on the Nordics’ trails when he was seven years old. Now, 42 years later, he is back in 100 Mile House to coach the next generation of young racers. Several of his new pupils competed in last Saturday’s Teck Northern Cup Race #3 at the ski trails on Ainsworth Road.
“I’ve never lost the passion for skiing. Now it’s just a good workout and something I love doing,” Twamley, 49, said. “Coaching is fun, it gives me something to do, keeps me in the sport and somewhat youthful. Whatever they can take in is a benefit for both of us.”
Twamley’s lifelong passion for cross-country took him from 100 Mile Nordics to the B.C. Ski Team, which consisted mostly of skiers from his hometown, before moving on to the Junior National Team.
“It was a super experience and every weekend we were off to a race somewhere. I was B.C. Cup champion for several years and I was very successful with winning on the B.C. and National Teams,” he said. “It’s obviously a good feeling when you work so hard at something and come out on top.”
At 19, Twamley had to make a choice: go into cross-country skiing professionally or head into the workforce.
Burnt out, he decided to go to work, moving away from 100 Mile to take jobs as a newspaper publisher and a construction worker before becoming an RCMP officer.
After a 17-year career, mostly on Vancouver Island, Twamley decided to retire early and move back home for a quieter life. He was at the Nordics trails in December when he bumped into development coach Gary Carlson who recognized him from his time with the ski team.
After hearing about the upcoming Teck race, Twamley offered to help coach.
“After all the coaching I’d had throughout the years, if there was something I could give back at this time of my life, I’d certainly give it back to the club where I started,” he said.
Leading up to this weekend’s race, Twamley spent one-on-one time with several young racers teaching them tricks and tips on how to succeed. Some of those tips he learned from his childhood coaches such as Gunner Rasmussen.
Twamley said he has always enjoyed working with children and it’s an honour to coach the local Nordics members. The sport is mostly about knowing your body’s own limits, he said, and when and where to push yourself.
“Some of them are young and aren’t quite at that level of pacing and course knowledge but I try to give them whatever I can and if they can pick a few things out, perfect,” he said. “They’ll pick more up as I drive it into them.”
The experience has Twamley considering taking a more active role in the club next year. While he still needs to discuss it with the other coaches and board members, he’s willing to take on the role of official race coach for any young skiers who want to race.
“At this point and time, I’m seeing where I might fit into the club. I think for the remainder of this year I’ll stick with the club and come next year, if I feel I can take on more of a role, I’d certainly like to throw myself into the mix as a coach of the Nordics.”