Count Jeanette Cudney among the tiny fraction of the population that can claim to be a “world champion.”
A biological sciences major from Cazenovia, N.Y., Cudney earned that title this winter at the International Snowshoeing Federation (ISSF) 2015 Snowshoe World Championship in Quebec City, Quebec. She finished first in the junior women’s 5K with a time of 30:10 (2 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher) on a course made more challenging by 4 inches of fresh snow and a temperature of minus-2 degrees.
Impressed? Consider this: Cudney had picked up snowshoeing just a year earlier as a senior at Cazenovia High School, where she was a standout on the track and cross country teams. There is a lot of overlap between training to run and training to snowshoe. Knowing that, a neighbor who is a nationally ranked snowshoer encouraged Cudney to try it. From there, things moved pretty fast.
Cudney came in second place in her first race at Highland Forest County Park in New Woodstock, N.Y., earning a spot at the 2014 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships in Bennington, Vt. Then her first-place finish in Vermont secured her a position on the U.S. National Team at the world championship in Quebec.
Following the world championship, Cudney returned to Le Moyne, where she is a member of both the cross-country and track teams.
“A lot of running training carries over to snowshoeing, but snowshoeing is a lot tougher,” she says. “It’s a lot more strength based than speed based.”
Cudney is not resting on the success of her world championship. She has two specific goals for herself for the future – to run a 5K in under 18 minutes and to continue to cut her time snowshoeing that distance. She said that she began snowshoeing because she thought it would be fun, and it has been. But more importantly, it has also been a valuable lesson in not being afraid to try something new.
“I have gotten a lot stronger, both physically and mentally, from snowshoe racing,” she says. “I have also learned how to relax and have more fun while competing. Everyone has a great time at snowshoe races and is supportive of all others, regardless of if they are their competition or not.”
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