ARLINGTON, Wash. – Tony Wiederkehr admits he’s never been afraid to think big.
“I saw how about this idea, and my wife, well, I sometimes say things she doesn’t pay attention to. Cause that’s crazy,” said the 48-year-old aerospace engineer. But he knew he was on to something last month.
Wiederkehr, a Snohomish County transplant, grew up a Steelers fan. He and his three brothers all played football, a Pennsylvania kid with Pigskin in his DNA. But in the last 20 years, he’s had a blue and green blood transfusion. Seahawks fever now flows through his veins.
He felt it in the days after the Super Bowl and says he looked at his wife, at their Arlington home, with another one of his big ideas. She’d also been bathing in the afterglow of the Seahawks’ success. He pitched it, and “she bought in. And I thought, that means it’s going to happen now.”
His crazy idea? Go full Beast Mode in a major cross country ski race known as the Engadin Ski Marathon.
The event was something that meant a tremendous amount to his family. He picked up the sport a decade ago, just to do it once with his father.
“I was coaching basketball and football, but my Dad was always into it. He was 70 years old, and asked my brothers to come over and do it. He said it was going to be my last Engadin Ski Marathon. And so I went up to Snoqualmie Pass and took my first lesson. It was a total disaster,” said Wiederkehr.
But somehow, after eight weeks of lessons, he was able to muster enough courage to go to Switzerland and complete the 42k race.
“I crossed the finish line, and I said I need to do this better. I was looking for something to fill my bandwidth,” he said.
He leaned on his family again 10 years later.
“I wanted to do something to honor the Seahawks,” said Wiederkehr. His kids and extended family pitched in. They collected all the stuff he would need: jersey, helmet, football, shoulder pads, custom tights and, yes, “a normal football girdle underneath the tights.”
He took it all to Switzerland and on March 7, skied the marathon, looking more like Marshawn Lynch than any cross country champion. Wiederkehr carried a football the entire way, while the other skiers used the more traditional ski poles. He says he handed out 100 small Seahawks football helmets to children along the course.
Among the people who witnessed it was Seattleite and Olympian Holly Brooks.
“I know that Seattlites have done some cool things to celebrate the Hawks, but this has got to be one of the most unique ones,” she said via email.
Wiederkehr ended up finishing 4,873 out of more than 13,000 skiers, but the place wasn’t important. The Seahawks had already finished first.
And he, like the Seahawks, are already thinking about a repeat performance. Tony has his eyes on another big race in Wisconsin. He’s saving his suit for use on another day.
“You know, if the Seahawks have another great season, I may get goaded into that,” he said.