Reader Athlete: The Snow Sailor

Name: Annie Tuthill

Age: 21

Lives In: Poultney, Vt. and Jamestown, R.I.

Occupation: Student at Green Mountain College

Primary Sports: As a snow sailor, consistently ranks among the top three women in the world for Short Track Slalom. She’s also a unicyclist and a skier.

Ask Annie Tuthill where she likes to ski and the answer may surprise you. “Lake Champlain is the best spot,” says Tuthill, a student at Green Mountain College in Poultney.

Tuthill, now 21, has been skiing since she was two and sailing almost as long. It was natural for her to blend the two activities into kite-skiing—especially since her parents, both ice sailors, had been taking her to World Ice and Snow Sailing [WISSA] competitions every year since she was born.

By age 11, Tuthill was already playing with wings, using them to power her on skis, carving jibes across lakes and catching air in jumps across frozen fields.

Ice and snow sailing involves using skis or skates and anything from windsurfing rigs to kites. Tuthill prefers skis (she uses Volkl twin tips for freestyle, Attiva 180s for racing) and her Kite Wing. “I love the control, and ease of use. It fits in a ski bag, weighs ten pounds, and takes only minutes to set up, what’s not to like?”

At age 15, Tuthill was on the start line at WISSA championships at Lac St. Jean, Quebec. The next year she was competing in Oravi, Finland, where she was invited to train with the Swedish team.

Tuthill is now an international competitor in the Kitewing Class, and currently ranked among the top three women in the world for Short Track Slalom, a race that takes place on a plowed patch of ice where competitors sail in close proximity, and fortunes are won or lost in just a few heats.

It’s a grueling sport. “I can remember one course race in particular in which the wind was howling, it was nearly white-out conditions, and it took all of my endurance to finish the race,” Tuthill recalls.

“My hands were totally numb from the cold, and I had been using all my strength to run the up wind legs. I didn’t think I was going to able to finish the race, but I continued on, mostly spurred on by my fellow competitors.” In between competitions, Tuthill spends her time studying sustainable agriculture, a program that attracted her to Vermont and to Green Mountain College, where she’s also been studying filmmaking. She’s also a mean off-road unicyclist.

But most of the winter she spends hunting out places to winter sail. A steady wind is a concern, but Vermont lakes such as Memphremagog, Bomoseen and Lake St. Catherine usually deliver.

“It seems that the mountains get all of the attention in Vermont, but there are some pretty amazing lakes as well,” Tuthill says. –William Tuthill