Spending most of her childhood in California, it doesn't seem natural that Joanne Reid has developed into one of the best cross country skiers in the country.

With a family full of winter sports standouts and a mom willing to spend hours in the car to get to snow, however, Reid now has a passion for flying across the snow.

"I think if you don't have fun then you really shouldn't be doing what you're doing," said Reid, a senior on the Colorado ski team.

Reid is certainly having fun this season. She has won seven of her eight races this season, which already ties for the third-most wins in a season since the sport went co-ed in 1983. The race she didn't win, she finished second.

Reid has a chance to become just the third women's Nordic skier in school history to get 11 wins and one second-place finish in the same season.

She's a bit modest, though, in explaining why she has improved so much this year. Prior to this year, she had just two career wins.

"A lot of the top 10 skiers (in the country) we had from the previous years actually graduated, so I think the field is a little bit less strong right now," said Reid, who had 23 top-10 finishes before this year. "Also, my teammate (Eliska Hajkova) is really trying to recover. She had a bad hamstring and that kind of threw her off."

While that may be true, the natural progression from maturity and experience appears to also be taking place for Reid, who is only 20 years old.


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"We tend just to get better every year because we peak really late, and I started out really young and I think have an advantage from that," said Reid, who is already a five-time All-American.

Of course, enjoying the sport helps, too.

Reid's mother, Beth, skied at Vermont and also excelled in speed skating. She was the 1979 world all-around speed skating champion and won a bronze medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. Beth was also a world champion cyclist.

Reid's uncle, Eric Heiden, is one of the great speed skaters in history. In 1980, he won five gold medals -- still a record in speed skating for one year -- and set four Olympic records and one world record in Lake Placid.

Because cross country skiing was a more family-friendly activity, Joanne said, her mom introduced her kids to that sport instead of skating. The family made frequent trips to Lake Tahoe -- about four hours away -- to get to the snow.

"When I go home for Christmas, it's not to bake Christmas cookies," Joanne said. "The family goes skiing. It just all revolves around training and skiing."

Introduced to cross country skiing before her second birthday, Joanne still loves it.

"I pretty much like everything about it," she said. "I love the courses, I love that they are kind of like roller-coasters and the tactics of mass-start racing is really fun. And, I love skiing for a team that's a really strong team that has a chance to win nationals."

The Buffaloes are typically one of the top teams in the country and this year is no different. Reid, of course, is leading the way right now.

"I just went into the season with the mentality that I just really wanted my team to do well this year and the Nordic women, in particular, have been really strong," she said. "When I'm out there, I'm not only having fun, but I get to be with my teammates because they are up with me, too."

A mathematics major with an eye on obtaining her PhD in the future, Reid isn't sure what she wants to do with skiing in the future. During the next few weeks, however, she just might find herself at the top of the NCAA podium.

Reid and the Buffs will compete at the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) championships this Friday-Sunday in Bozeman, Mont. Then, they head to the NCAA championships in Middlebury, Vermont, from March 6-9.

"I wouldn't have said so at the beginning of the year, but now I guess I have a shot," she said of winning an individual national title. "I'm not going to say it's in the bag or anything, but I can at least try my best. I would be very, very happy if it happened, but I'm not going go to be mad at myself (if it doesn't happen).

"I would be happy if my teammates went 1-2-3 and I was third, rather than if I won and they were way in the back."

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