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Pole Fiasco

7.Feb.2011 by Matt Briggs

This weekend was, as all of New England knows, the now annual UVM Canival/Trapp’s Eastern Cup weekend.  With a college carnival, eastern cup, and JOQ combined, there are always a lot of skiers at this one.  This year only Saturday was combined, with the college kids racing by themselves on Friday, and the eastern cup operating by itself on Sunday.  So we all raced Saturday and Sunday, in a 10k skate and 15k classic.  The skate race went well enough.  I got caught by Ben Koons after a kilometer and then Pat at 2k, but skied the rest of the way with these guys.  That was nice enough, except when we went by the Dartmouth crowd, all of whom would cheer for the two guys with me and tell them to put the hammer down and “drop this loser.”  Real nice.  I guess college spirit dies slow.

Anyways, it’s Sunday where the real action came about.  After a perfect blue sky day Saturday the skies opened up and dumped 6-10 inches of heavy wet snow all over northern Vermont.  Trapps did a great job packing it down and grooming it so it was hardly noticeable when we got there, aside from some tricky waxing.  But that heavy new stuff has a capacity for suction.  I had forgotten about this until about 1k into the race, as I was double poling across a flat.  Then my memory was jogged by a sound almost exactly matching the sound made at 0:23 of this song.  My handle, still attached to my hand, had lost it’s pole.  A bunch of things raced through my head.  First, I tried to use it anyways, like a phantom limb.  That didn’t work.  Then I figured I’d just hang onto the handle, because as any rollerskier knows, a good handle and fresh strap is worth its weight in gold.  Or at least, worth at least 30 dollars.  Then I realized I would probably want to put a different pole in that hand at some point, given there was 14k left and my poles almost always help me ski faster.  So I ditched it.  The next thing I realized was that I was in the most isolated part of the course and I had the biggest hill coming up quick.  I needed a pole asap.  Fortunately a parent was down at the bottom of the hill and I yelled for a pole.  He got ready to hand me one when I yelled “left hand!”  He started to look and see which was left and which was right, but then I realized it might be too late so I yelled “Either side-doesn’t matter!”  He threw it out in front of me as I passed him, I fumbled it once and caught it.  It was the wrong side, but it was also the right length.  I skied up the hill holding on hard, and things were ok.  On the ensuing downhill, I realized this pole strap wasn’t going to work for me and I’d need another one at some point.  As I came to the top of the next hill, at 3k, I yelled to the crowd at the corner I needed a left pole.  I gave them plenty of warning and Will Sweetser was there with a pole.  Pole number 3.  I grabbed it, took one look at the pink tape on the top, and realized this wasn’t going to work either.  At 6’1″, I need a pretty long pole.  And usually long poles don’t have pink tape.  My suspicions were confirmed as soon as I tried to use this thing.  It was 140 cm at most.  I used it for a few awkward strides before seeing another group of coaches and yelling for a left hand pole once again.  I was getting pretty good at that by this point.  A coach came out of the crowd with a pole, stuck it in front of me, and said “It’s a 160, left side.”  That was music to my ears.  I strapped this thing on and knew pole number 4 was going to be just right.  I skied out the rest of the race with this pole, even though people offered me poles for the next 7k.  I considered switching at times because I thought I’d have a chance at hitting double digits if I tried, but decided against it.

Now I thought that once I got the last pole I was done with the fiasco, but I was wrong.  Upon finishing, I realized I had taken poles from folks I didn’t know and traded them poles of other people I didn’t know.  Plus, I didn’t even know where my own pole was, or who’s pole I finished with.  That took some serious figuring, but with the help of the announcer I got everything sorted, and each pole was returned to it’s owner.

Days like this remind me of how much help people are willing to give when a little thing goes wrong.  So thank you: the Bowdoin parent for the first pole, Zoe Erdman for the short pole, Will Sweetser for giving me the pole, Tim Weston for the last pole, Will O’Brien for finding my pole, Pete Davis (announcer) for helping me find the owners, Tim Reynolds for helping me find Zoe Erdman, Tim Whiton for helping me find the Bowdoin parent, Marc Gilbertson for offering me his poles to cool down with, and any of the other folks who offered their poles after I had found a fit.

Axel Teichmann saw me pee

4.Nov.2010 by Matt Briggs

It’s true.  For real.  Like, 2 time world champ Axel Teichmann.  He caught me makin yellow snow.

Let me set it up for you in 4 parts that had to come together all at the right moment, like a perfect storm:

So as you should know by now, it gets dark here early in the day.  That means when we ski twice, we skin once in the light and once in the dark.  It’s actually kind of cool because it’s all lit up so it’s a new feeling to ski like that.  But that’s not the point.  Well today we went skating in the afternoon, and it was full on dark out.  And they just groomed and lit a 10k loop that was finally in great shape after a little more snow last night.  That’s part number 1.

So when we skied I did two loops of the 3.8k thats been open since we got here.  Roughly, I’d say I’ve skied this loop 50 times.  Not that I’m complaining about great skiing at this time of year, but it does get a little boring.  Then I was looking for adventure and I knew they had opened this loop and I hadn’t skied it yet.  So at the turnoff I just went for it.  And I was off.  There’s part 2.

Muonio is a pretty sweet place right now and there’s big races coming up and the world cup opens not far away.  Because of this a lot of national teams are hanging around, including, as of yesterday, the German team.  That’s number 3.

Part 4 is simple.  I drank a lot of water yesterday and today and had soup for lunch and didn’t pee before leaving the house to ski.

So when you put all that together, you have a beautiful, lit, 10k loop which I am skiing on because I’m bored of the 3.8k.  At the same time, you’ve got superstars like Axel (yeah, I’d say it’s first name basis after the intimate moment I shared with him) skiing around all over the place, like this exact 10k loop.  Finally, I needed to pee.  Badly.  So I’m cruising along, looking for a good stopping point.  So far, I’d skied about 2-3k and seen nobody, so I wasn’t worried about getting spotted.  I picked the top of a big hill and stopped, pulled over right under a streetlamp, and started doing my thang.  Well just as I started, I looked down the track that I was basically standing on, and there’s a person there.  Shoot.  Too late now.  Wouldn’t be my first time getting caught yellow handed.  Well as this guy comes up I get a better view and realize he’s a German, and he’s pretty good.  Doesn’t matter much, it’s still a guy who’s seeing me pee right?  Wrong.  I start to realize that he’s real tall and has this look of pain in his eyes like he just gets routinely outsprinted by Northug.  Actually, I couldn’t see that.  But I did recognize him.  As I was squinting at him I think I started to turn towards him (as I would later realize from my yellow trail) which seems, in retrospect, like a bad idea.  Woops.  But he definitely saw me.  Fully lit up, almost in his tracks, taking a pee.  And that was it.  My brush with fame, my 15 seconds, my moment in the spotlight.


7.Sep.2010 by Matt Briggs

I’ve been hard at work.

Basically, I’m not much of an artist.  There was a time in high school when I took a full month of sculpture to make an 8 foot long trophy case lock (see picture) model out of cardboard that had moving parts and everything and I got an A+ in that class and on that specific project but really since then I haven’t made much of anything in the art department.  Until now.

I guess it started last year when I made a piece of artwork by cutting out a page of a magazine and extra-bluing it to a carboard back and hanging it up in the kitchen, but this year, I’ve been on a tear.

My first major undertaking started when Pepa told me I wasn’t allowed to have a carpet in my room, because I was allergic to it.  I debated that, but not to Pepa, because I didn’t want to get yelled at anymore.  So I took the carpet out of my room, and my room immediately was no fun to live in.  I’ll quote a great man when I say “that rug really tied the room together.”  But there was a silver lining.  Pepa told me that I could do whatever else I wanted to my floor, like paint in the design of the carpet.  Interesting, I thought, but too complicated.  Maybe another design would be better.  Maybe something simpler.  Maybe something more…patriotic.  And so the next 10 days were spent clearing out my room, buying paint and supplies, sleeping in an open closet, and carefully painting 13 stripes and 50 stars onto my floor.  Enjoy.



Then I took a break from my artistic career to focus on other things.  But as with any true artist, my work called me back.  This time it was through the medium of my fledgling business, lobsterjoke.  You see, we needed to refresh the whole thing.  It just wasn’t working for us, from the $15 shirts to the block print to the basic website.  We needed an update, and that needed to start with printing our own stuff.  So I looked into it, and it turns out screenprinting is not that hard, it just takes a while.  Well, I’ve got time, so this was for me.  It also cost some money to get into it, but since I plan to sell millions of shirts, it’d be ok to spend some.  So I bought in and figured it out.  It’s a pretty cool process, a little frustrating, but pretty fun overall.  And the final products are pretty sweet.  I made a couple screens to make 1 shirt and when that worked out, I went ahead and got the rest of the supplies for enough to make 5 shirts and I also bought 40 red shirts to print on.  So I’m now printing shirts and that’s been pretty cool too, and they’re coming out pretty well.  So well, in fact, that I’d put these things up against that cardboard trophy case lock as my best artwork yet.  Here’s a picture of some of the screens I made and the finished products (or at least the backs).



So I know this is a little long and rambling.  And maybe you know that’s my style.  But let me sum this one up for you (for anyone going back to school and trying to write papers about me) in a couple bullet points:

1. I have almost no history with art.

2. I spent 10 days sleeping in a closet on an air mattress so that my floor could be an exact replica of the american flag.

3. The new lobsterjoke shirts are totally awesome, and they’re just $10.  And I need to sell a lot of them now because I spent maybe too much learning how to screenprint.  So go to, pick a shirt, and email me at