Competing from Chile to Italy, Rockville resident Chris J. Romano skis on an international stage. Training at local gyms and nearby slopes, he measures up to the globally renowned competition, placing fourth last month in the International Ski Federation's Masters World Cup held in Torino, Italy.
On a typical day, Romano works as a senior market analyst at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Then he's off to Gold's Gym in Rockville Town Square to work out for three or four hours. While Maryland is not known for its skiing opportunities, during the winter Romano spends his vacation days and weekends traveling to some of the Washington metropolitan area's closest resorts, such as Liberty Mountain Resort, in Carroll Valley, PA, just across the Mason-Dixon Line.
"With hard work you can get something and go places, even at an age where it is unexpected," said Romano, 31.
After taking up competitive skiing at age 26—close to retirement age for most Olympic skiers—he has maintained his daily routine for five years and has skied 84 mountains.
"I've gotten to see places that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise and I like to travel," Romano said.
His goal is to reach the 100 mountains-skied mark by next year. He finished third last year in the FIS Master South American Cup in Chile and in the FIS Master World Cup in Torino Italy. The FIS hosts races for different age classes and many in his age class have competed in the Olympics, Romano said.
His next competition, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Summer Fun Nationals in Mount Hood, Oregon, in July, could provide a tune-up for the next FIS Master World Cup in September in Navado, Chile, he said.
Skiing has enriched Romano's life, he said. It reconnected him with his fiancé and allowed him to make friends across the globe despite geographic and language barriers. He even had his bachelor party in Europe.
Romano's training was significantly hindered by the lack of snow in the Mid-Atlantic last winter.
"I didn't really get to practice at all. I went to Chile last year and came back to the States and [the snow] never really happened. The conditions weren't very good. I never got comfortable with my form and new skis."
Parts of Europe also experienced a snow drought. The lack of snow hindered race plans—and big plans for Romano's personal life.
"I was actually planning to propose to my girlfriend at a race in Torino, Italy but I had to change my plans because the race was rescheduled due to the weather conditions," he said.
Although Romano has balanced his skiing career and his day job well so far, he is not sure how long he will juggle training, working and marriage.
"I'll definitely be competing this next season," he said. "The honeymoon will end in Chile, right where the next South American Cup will be."