Klug takes book on World Cup tour
“What my story tells you, No. 1, I think, is that transplants work. Ten years ago, I’d be dead with this condition. Now, transplant patients are winning bronze medals.” – Chris KlugChris Klug isn’t doing a traditional book tour. Instead, for a 13th season, he’s doing the World Cup tour.The 2004-05 World Cup snowboard racing season is under way, with two events last month in Soelden, Austria, and Landgraff, Netherlands, and twice Aspen’s Klug has made the finals (with a seventh and 12th, respectively) in his specialty, the parallel, which is a head-to-head, knock-out format.This season, the 6-foot-3 Klug is weighing in at his heaviest ever, at 225 pounds. That’s up from 220 to start last season, and decidedly up from his 186-pound frame in the waning days of June 2000. On June 28 of that year, Klug received a life-saving liver transplant. Nineteen months later, he won a bronze medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.Klug, 31, readily admits, “It’s been a helluva ride.” This month, he is launching his autobiography, “To the Edge and Back, My Story from Organ Transplant Survivor to Olympic Snowboarder.”
Today, he planned to head to Copper Mountain for a weeklong U.S. Snowboard Team training camp. On Nov. 19, he will debut his book at the Tattered Cover in Denver. On Nov. 26 in Aspen, the first day of the Thanksgiving Day weekend women’s alpine World Cup races on Ajax, Klug will debut the book locally at the gondola plaza at 2:30 p.m.Yesterday, over lunch at Specialty Foods of Aspen, Klug talked with the Times about the season ahead, the book and his continuing recovery.On opening World Cups:”A good start, as opposed to last year at Soelden. They had the new starting gates and I pulled out a little bit early and I barged – flew over the handlebars out of the starting gate, full ass over tea kettle, landed on my chin, and rode my chin all the way to the first gate and ended up with 15 stitches. Didn’t even make one turn. So every time I came down the course this year, I’m like, ‘Well, I just made it 25 gates farther than I did last year.’ I still have a good scar on my chin, so I was pretty happy this year: no stitches, get out of the start OK and then finishing seventh.”Focus:”I’m really focusing on January and February, with the World Championships in February in Whistler and the real bulk of our World Cup season, when you really want to be riding your best. And the damn World Championship podium has eluded me all my career. I think I’ve been in five or six World Championships now … and I’ve been close a lot of times, a lot of sixths, sevenths, fifth, but never landed on the podium. So that’s a huge goal for me this year, trying to win the World Championship PGS.”
The prospect of a third Olympics in 2006 in Italy:”I got sort of nostalgic the other day when I was packing my bags to head to Europe. I just kind of sat there, like, ‘Here goes another season. Wow. Thirteen years and still going.’ It really was cool. And I still love it.”I’m healthy now, and I’ve paid my dues with the medical challenges. I’m able to make a living doing it now, and as long as I’m having fun, healthy and still very competitive, I’ll keep going. Obviously my big goal is to try and return to the next Olympics and improve on that bronze-medal Salt Lake City performance.”I feel blessed to have gotten into the sport as somewhat of a pioneer from the beginning in the early ’80s, to have started on a plywood snowboard and moon boots with duct tape, and to now be in my sixth or seventh world championships, and to be still involved in the sport and competing at a high level. Yeah, I feel really lucky.”Maturing as a racer, person:”I think for me, in many ways, I look back on my knee surgery [that wiped out the 1998 season] and my liver transplant as sort of blessings in disguise – they sorta made me pace myself, No. 1 so I don’t burn myself out. It was sorta against my will at the time, but I look back and see how it forced me to take a break.”And, secondly, to realize how lucky I was to be doing this and see what a short window of opportunity professional athletes have to perform at this level. It also reminded me, ‘Man, take advantage of it, don’t take a single turn for granted or a single day riding for granted because you don’t know when it’s going to be over.’ I guess that’s my attitude: I try to have as much fun as I can out there, and go as fast as I can and do the best I can, and keep moving toward that goal of 2006.”
The book:”The Aspen community is a huge part of the book. It’s reflective of our lifestyle, what it’s like to be a professional snowboarder and what it’s like to be an Aspen local. What this town is all about, I think, is really positively reflected in this book.”I think a young up-and-coming snowboard punk would like it, as well as a soccer mom who didn’t know a damn thing about snowboarding. It’s got quite a few underlying themes and messages to it, such as the donor awareness message, the story of my adopted brother, Jason, and the early history of snowboarding, my family, my girlfriend Missy, and all of our local wacky friends. But it’s not just me, me, not just the Chris Klug show. It’s really also the story of my coaches, my teammates, my transplant team, my buddy [doctor] who put my knee back together … and the characters in my life.”Healthwise:”I do a lot of traveling in the offseason. My favorite thing when I’m not snowboarding is surfing, and we went to Indonesia to surf the last couple Mays, and plan to do that again this year. But that’s the only thing with my anti-rejection drugs. I’ve made a lot of headway with my anti-rejection drugs, but I still take ’em morning and night. I take a drug called Prograf, and I take one milligram morning and night. I started off four years ago with four milligrams morning and night. And to think in four years I’ve gone down to just one milligram, with no other medication, it’s pretty remarkable. That’s a miracle, really.”But one of these issues is when I go to surfing places like in Bali or Indo, I always seem to be more susceptible to catching bugs there. Man, the last two years I went down to Chile I came back with giardia. But that’s really the only side effect I’ve noticed, just these little GI problems I seem to pick up in Third World countries.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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