Joanne Reid
Joanne Reid

The past and present seem well intertwined when it comes to Joanne Reid, sophomore Nordic skier for Colorado.

It wasn't until she was about 7 years old that she learned how successful her mother was in so many sports.

But by the time the now 18-year-old skier discovered her mother's achievements, it already had been about 20 years since the then-Beth Heiden had:

Won a bronze medal as a speed skater at the 1980 Olympics;

Won the all-around world championship as a speed skater in 1979;

Won an NCAA cross country skiing title with Vermont in 1983; and

Won the 1980 Coors Classic bike race in Colorado.

"People always ask me about that, but it really isn't a big deal," Reid said. "My mom isn't really ostentatious about it.

"When she tells a story about world championships, or something, it doesn't start with, 'When I won world championships.' It starts with, 'When I was in Russia, everybody liked denim and we had denim so people traded a lot of stuff for me.'

"So I didn't even know she was a really good athlete until I was 7."

The gene pool runs deeper than just her mother.

Her father, Russell, wrestled in college. Her brother Garrett skied at CU from 2006-07 and was a member of CU's 2006 national championship team.

Her uncle, Eric Heiden, became the only athlete to ever win all five speed skating events when he took home five gold medals in the 1980 Olympics.


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It's no wonder that Reid is finding success as one of Colorado's top three women's Nordic skiers, a group that includes senior Alexa Turzian and junior Eliska Hajkova.

And it's not just because of her family's nature, but it's also due in large part to their nurture.

"She's my coach," Reid said of her mother. "She still writes my workouts. When I'm home I train with her. It's awesome. I love training with my mom.

"To me, it's just normal. But she definitely has a different training style and a different skiing style than most people. I get really used to that and then I go and try to ski behind someone like Eliska and it's weird."

Weird in a good way.

Reid enjoys learning different styles of training and finds a nice contrast in the speed skating style of training (several short bursts of workouts) she receives from her mother and the longer-interval training sessions popular among other athletes, especially the Europeans on the CU ski team.

Take, for instance, what she's learning from her former roommate, Hajkova:

"One day we didn't know what to do for a workout," Reid said. "So we just went out there and we did some kind of Czech hill-bounding technique drill. That really helped.

"It's sort of like you're trying to ski up the hill but you don't have any skis on. It looks really weird so we did it in the dark so nobody would see."

Darkness can't hide what Reid has contributed to the CU ski team and the U.S. in just one year.

As a freshman last year, Reid took fourth in the Classical race and 10th in the Freestyle race at the NCAA championships.

In January she won the 5K junior freestyle U.S. cross country championship in Rumford, Maine. Her achievement earned her a spot on the U.S. World Junior Championship.

Reid returned less than two weeks ago from the World Junior Championships in Estonia where she was 24th overall and had the second-best finish among U.S. racers.

She did all of this at a young age, too. Reid skipped kindergarten so she's always been a year ahead of everybody. She came to CU as a 17-year-old.

Her age is especially relevant because these are the years when cross country skiers need to be building up a strong base. Most cross country skiers don't peak until their late 20s.

"I don't usually get 17-year-olds," said CU Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer, who recruited Reid. "It's a great opportunity for her to get a college education while she's still developing."

Competing on an international level motivates her to train harder to help CU try to improve upon its second-place showing as a team at the NCAAs last year.

The Buffs are competing in their final regular season meet this week with Nordic skiers racing in the Denver Invitational on Saturday and Sunday in Aspen. The RMISA championships run Feb. 25-26 in Park City, Utah, and the NCAA championships will be March 9-12 at Stowe, Vt.

"I love skiing for teams that are good and supportive," Reid said. "It's really cool to come here and be a part of a team that has a shot at winning a national title."

The Reid (humor) file

Born June 28, 1992, in Madison, Wisc.

Grew up in Palo Alto, Calif.

In addition to skiing, she ran cross country and track in high school; she also swam:

"I don't know why I swam for so long. I don't really like it because you put your head down and you can't talk to anyone."

On growing up in sunny California where skiing wasn't exactly the most popular sport considering the long trips to and from Tahoe, where she trained, to Palo Alto:

"I just always figured everyone else was smart enough not to live that far from the snow."

She skipped kindergarten, putting her a year ahead in school. She was an independent skier in California when CU Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer recruited her.

"Because I was a year younger no one was really recruiting me. So I thought I was just really bad and no one really wanted me. Bruce sort of laughs evilly every time he hears me tell this story."

At the age of 17, she went to Cal Berkeley for a semester before transferring to CU:

"Bruce came up to me and I think he was a little desperate. He only had two scoring skiers (in the fall of 2009; and the top 3 score for a team at the NCAAs) and we were hosting NCAAs (in 2010) and he really needed a third girl. I just happened to be there and wasn't really doing anything."

She has never downhill skied and she has never speed skated (her mother's sport). Although canceled last year, the CU ski team has a yearly traditional competition at the end of the season in which the Nordic skiers downhill and the downhill skiers cross country ski:

"I'm a little worried about that."

On her trip to Estonia:

"Everyone in Eastern Europe was really serious and they wear a lot of black. So one of our games was to see how many smiles back we could get. We found that if we bullied them -- if there were four of us we would smile and wave they would give us a kind of terrified smile back, which was really entertaining."