Get to Know Nordic Ski Coach Carl Shaffer

Laura Boase
Coach Shaffer in action.

Question 1: How long have you been Nordic skiing?

I have been skiing for 31 years. I started when I was 21 years old.

Question 2: How long have you been coaching Nordic?

I am on my 3rd year of coaching at BSM as the head coach. Previously, I spent a year coaching the Junior High program at Plymouth Middle School, and the five years before that, I helped out the BSM program as my own children went through high school.

Question 3:  Why do you like to Nordic ski?

There are many reasons I like Nordic skiing. The community is very welcoming to adult skiers. I have met many friends over the years who ski and coach.  It’s low impact, so it’s easy on my knees compared to running. I just love being outside and skiing on freshly groomed snow. It’s a great aerobic workout, and it makes me happier than sitting inside watching TV.

Question 4:  What is the hardest part of Nordic? Why?

Everyone is different. For me the hardest part is the balance. Balance comes to you when you are typically pretty young. I never skied before I was 21, so my body never really learned to balance while gliding. My balance affects my downhill speed, ability to quickly maneuver, and makes my glide shorter than I would like it to be.

Question 5:  Why do you keep coaching Nordic?

Mostly, I coach because I enjoy spending time with the student skiers. I enjoy helping them become better and do more than they believed they could do. Helping students become better skiers, learning a lifelong activity, and helping them find something that is fun to do keeps me coming back.

Question 6:  Would you consider yourself a pro at Nordic? Why?

I am not a pro at Nordic. However, I deeply enjoy the sport. I actively support some Olympic and aspiring Olympic skiers who are truly professional, and some of the top skiers in the world. For them it is such a passion, and they sacrifice everything to ski.

Question 7:  What is your favorite part of Nordic skiing? Why?

I love being in the woods by myself at Baker or Elm Creek two days after a new snow and the grooming is perfect. Just skiing with nature, and enjoying the time skiing. I also enjoy this time of year when there is no natural snow, so I go to Hyland or Elm Creek and always see friends out skiing. It’s like seeing your friends at school. It’s always fun.

Question 8:  Why do you think Nordic is a great sport?

For many reasons. Nordic skiing is probably the best aerobic exercise. It is one of the best core strength exercises, and it’s great for your balance. You can ski into your eighties or even into your nineties. It’s that easy on your body. Also, the community of skiers is very friendly. I can’t think of another sport where you can be skiing on a course with an Olympian, and they will chat with you while they are working out. At the same time, people will stop to help new skiers get the hang of it.

Question 9:  What got you interested in skiing?

My little brother skied in high school. That’s when I started. One of my favorite memories was my brother, my dad, and I skiing “the flats” at Theodore Wirth. As my dad was skiing, my brother and I were skiing circles around him. It was a lot of fun.   My brother was a very good skier. He went to the state meet in high school and skied very well.

Question 10:  Where is your favorite place in the Twin Cities to ski?

My favorite places are Baker Park and Elm Creek. I also ski at French Park because it is close to home.

Question 11:  What are some of you other hobbies?

I race canoes in the summer, enjoy bicycle riding, and off road triathlons. Off road triathlons include canoe racing, mountain biking and trail running. My wife and I purchased a motor home this fall, and we have planned multiple trips in it to see the country.

Question 12:  Are you married?

I have been married for twenty-four years to Connie Shaffer. She’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Question 13:  Do you have kids?

I have a daughter, Monica, who is tewnty-two, has graduated college, and now works for the Sisters of St. Joseph. I also have a son, Garrett, who is twenty-one, and a Senior at Rose Hulman Technical Institute, and will be going on to graduate school to get his PHD in Electrical Engineering and math. His picture is on the wax room wall because he went to the state meet as a senior in high school.

Question 14:  How did you get to be a coach?

When Garrett was a senior, I spent some time helping out the program at Spring Lake Park since their coach is a friend of mine. After that, I was recruited by the coaching staff at Armstrong to help build their Junior High program. Mr. Pettinger then contacted me to ask if I would help at BSM.

Question 15:  Where did you grow up?

I was born in Pennsylvania, went to junior high in Maryland, and finished high school at Wayzata. I graduated in 1980. I did not go to college.

Question 16:  Why do you like BSM?

I like all the opportunities and community Benilde-St. Margaret’s has. The staff and student body are all very kind. BSM gave my kids great opportunities, and it really helped them become successful college students. I want to thank the school for all they have done for my children, and this is a good way to thank the school.