Note: This one of several previews in a quick-and-dirty series on U.S. elite teams. We asked coaches to send their 2012/2013 rosters and tell us what’s new for the coming season. We will be publishing additional reports over the next few weeks. Teams are presented in no particular order.
Team: Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF) Nordic Elite Team
Coaches: Dragan Danevski (program director/head coach), Tim Baucom (assistant coach/service tech), Andrew Morehouse (service tech)
Roster: Torin Koos, Leif Zimmermann, Sawyer Kesselheim
Who’s new: Kesselheim (A native of Bozeman, Mont., and former BSF junior who will be redshirting his sophomore year at Montana State University in an effort to make the 2013 World Junior Championships)
Who’s missing: None
Top results last season: A three-time Olympian, Koos landed on the SuperTour podium early last winter, placing second in both the classic and skate sprints in West Yellowstone, Mont. At U.S. nationals in January, he defended his sprint title in the skate race and was fifth in the 30 k classic mass start. Koos then flew to Norway to live and train for three months with the Strindheim Idrettslag ski club in Trondheim. This year, he’s focused on making the World Cup races in Canada and World Championships in Italy.
Zimmermann started last season with a SuperTour victory in the 15 k freestyle at West Yellowstone and landed several other top-10 results early on in the domestic circuit. The 2006 Olympian and four-time national champ was fifth at two NorAms (15 k classic and 15 k skate) last year, and won the Owl Creek Chase 21 k skate race in Aspen, Colo., and Winter Teva Mountain Games 10 k skate in Vail, Colo.
Kesselheim returns to Bridger after his freshman year at MSU, where he consistently placed in the top 15 at Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) races. He qualified for NCAA Championships as MSU’s fourth man, was a three-time All-American and placed third at 2012 Junior Nationals in the OJ relay.
Coach’s comment: The elite team may be in various parts of the country and world – Koos is in Salt Lake City working toward his Master’s degree and Zimmermann recently spent two weeks in Peru leading a running trip up the Inca Trail – but they unite when needed. Koos joined the group in June during a 10-day on-snow camp in Bend, Ore., and he’ll return to Bozeman for several training blocks, according to coach Tim Baucom.
In an email, Baucom pointed out that Koos was recovering from shoulder surgery this time last year, unable to rollerski with poles and work on his upper body until the end of the summer.
“Right now he is well ahead of where he was last year, and we expect him to not only contend all major sprint events, but the distance events as well,” Baucom wrote. “Leif has been a major presence on the SuperTour for many years and if he stays healthy we expect to see him contending for the SuperTour distance title.”
The main focus for both Koos, who turns 32 next week, and Zimmerman, 28, will be the Canadian World Cups and 2013 World Championships, he added.
“For Sawyer, gaining experience at the national level is crucial for his development,” Baucom wrote. “He will still be a junior, and World Junior Championships are definitely a major goal.”
In late July, BSF heads north for a dryland camp in Canmore, Alberta.