Sports

At 65 and legally blind, ‘sister Shred’ has never met a slope she won’t walk

Even if Sister Shred isn’t wearing a Halloween nun costume, she doesn’t fit the typical mold of a daredevil launching rocks on a mountain bike or carving steep slopes and powdery layers on a mountain bike. ski bike.

But whatever chance she gets, Kris Nordberg, 65, aka Sister Shred, will do exactly that, despite a rare blood vessel condition that has left her legally blind.

By driving with her head turned to one side, she can use her peripheral vision to recognize people ahead of her on the road and shapes and colors. And, for the most part, that’s enough to keep her looking for adrenaline-filled adventures.

Because she no longer drives, Nordberg cycles to the trails in her neighborhood in the foothills west of Denver when she wants to go for a walk. There are, however, a few times, when support from other riders comes in handy.

When she encounters a particularly difficult stretch of trail – such as a rocky staircase with jagged rocks that can break the front wheel and send the rider over the handlebars of a bicycle – she sometimes asks strangers to tutorial. She wears a bright orange strap and politely asks other riders if they can use it to mark the path of least resistance.

Scott Ehresman, Nordberg’s best friend and cyclist, leads her through such stretches as they ride together. While Nordberg showed no fear of touching stone stairs, drops and boulders, Ehresman, who often shoots action scenes, was constantly worried that she would injure herself.

But even if she did, it didn’t stop her from getting back on the trail. Ehresman said he’s watched her traverse narrow bridges and cliffs, along knife-like cliff edges, where one wrong move would mean a 2,000-foot drop, through class Deep powder and avalanche-prone terrain on a snowmobile in remote Colorado.

Ehresman, 42, met Nordberg in the 1990s, when she was his supervisor at UPS. They started gathering cars to work and discuss their hobbies. Nordberg convinced Ehresman, an avid mountaineer and former member of the US climbing team, to try mountain biking.

“At first, I was really scared,” Ehresman said. “She’s going down the super steep earth hills.”

They began taking trips together three or four times per week – and as Ehresman’s skills improved, their roles reversed.

“I’m getting better and better,” Ehresman said. “At some point, it switched. I ended up training her. I started going down to things that she never did.”

But Nordberg, he said, was unafraid.

“She was riding some crazy stuff,” he said. “She’s had some bad crashes.”

Nordberg has loved cycling for as long as she can remember. Raised in Buffalo, Minn., about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis, she bought her first bike at the age of 12, using it for paper-based daily commutes.

“It was one of those five-speed Schwinn with a saddle,” she said. “I had my paper path from 12 to 17 years old, 365 days a year. It kept going below zero during the Minnesota winter, but when you were a kid, the weather didn’t bother you much.”

Nordberg used her paper money to buy a snowmobile when she was 15, then a 10-speed Schwinn when she was 17. She spent all her free time outdoors.

“I cycled to the lake, swam, built treehouses and shot BB guns,” she said. “I’ve always been the girl who likes to hang out with guys.”

She went to the University of St. Cloud State dreams of becoming a high school teacher, but has no job after she graduates. A friend convinced Nordberg to move to Snowmass, Colo., where she worked as a housekeeper in a hotel for several years and discovered mountain biking and skiing. One day, on a whim, she decided to hit the slopes with the nun outfit she wore for Halloween last year.

“It’s just a fun thing to do,” says Nordberg. “I also want to wear it when I play hockey. They call me the divine goalkeeper. When you wear a ski nun outfit, people will notice you. Some people started calling me Sister Shred.”

Nickname stuck.

But after moving to the Denver area, Nordberg realized something was wrong in her vision.

“It’s my 40s and I’m going to travel for my birthday forever and ever,” she said. “I was looking at a sign and it was a bit blurry. I was bleeding eyes and double vision”.

She went to see a dermatologist about a year and a half later, who was diagnosed: Pseudoxanthoma Elastica, a progressive genetic disorder that, for Nordberg, had caused vision loss as well as pain and weakness in her legs. Miss. In 2012, she underwent three femoral artery replacement surgeries over a three-month period.

In 2009, Nordberg stopped driving because her eyesight continued to deteriorate. And after lots of leg surgery, she added a pedal-assist electric mountain bike to her garage a few years ago. Although she doesn’t ride many death-defying trails, she still enjoys rolling through jagged rock gardens and grinding flour on her ski bike. On her 60th birthday – wearing her nun attire for the occasion, of course – she jumped over her first countertop in a bike park.

As long as Ehresman or one of her other riding buddies – all male and in most cases 20 years younger than her – is willing to drive her there and lead the way, she Still eager to ride any rugged vehicle- track or snowy stream in remote areas. Providing his own bikes, Nordberg taught Ehresman’s teenage daughters how to ride. They had known her all their lives as Sister Shred.

“She loves cheering on people,” Ehresman said. “She wanted people to try things they might not have thought they could do.”

While she may not have as much left, Nordberg still holds small wins.

“You know that winning feeling?” she speaks. “I still crave that. You have to do what you can and don’t fret about what you can’t do. I’ve had more adventures in my life than a lot of people. ”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/sports/colorado-ski-bike-kris-nordberg.html At 65 and legally blind, ‘sister Shred’ has never met a slope she won’t walk

Fry Electronics Team

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