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Saxton, Paddy Caldwell Capture U.S. Ski Team’s Attention, Invited to Revived D-Team

Ben Saxton (SMST2), second place. (Photo: http://bertboyer.zenfolio.com) All proceeds from photo sales will be directly donated to NNF.

Stratton’s Ben Saxton racing to second in the freestyle sprint at 2014 U.S. nationals in Midway, Utah. Saxton was one of two skiers recently nominated to the U.S. Ski Team’s development “D” team. (Photo: bertboyer.zenfolio.com/Proceeds go to the National Nordic Foundation)

Ben Saxton and Paddy Caldwell are like many Dartmouth College students — smart, young, athletic — but these two 20-year-old nordic skiers have another thing going for them: being part of the U.S. Ski Team (USST).

While the team won’t actually be named until fall, the USST recently nominated Saxton, of Minnesota, and Caldwell, of New Hampshire, to its development, or D-team, which existed two seasons ago with two different men (Erik Bjornsen and Skyler Davis).

USST Head Coach Chris Grover explained on the phone earlier this week that the team was reinstated, so to speak, to capture the talent of two guys that have been on the team’s radar for several years.

“There will be times when our A-team is bigger, B-team is bigger, maybe not have a D-team and hopefully have a bigger D-team,” Grover said of the D-team’s existence. “It needs to depend on when athletes are emerging.”

National-team staff considered a wide range of other talented U.S. skiers for its development team, without any specific quota or male-to-female ratio. Ultimately, they decided Saxton and Caldwell were the top picks.

Paddy Caldwell (Dartmouth) racing to a career-best 10th on Friday in his skiathlon at his first Junior World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. (Photo: FlyingPointRoad.com/Proceeds go to the National Nordic Foundation)

Paddy Caldwell (Dartmouth) racing to 10th in the skiathlon at his first Junior World Championships in February in Val di Fiemme, Italy. (Photo: FlyingPointRoad.com/Proceeds go to the NNF)

“These were two that really stood in terms of where they’re at, at their particular age,” Grover said. “If you look at where they compared to their international peers … we do an analysis each year of where these guys would stack up against the top-10 men in the world in distance and top-10 men in the world in sprint. Paddy is actually ranked in the top 10 in the world in juniors.”

Caldwell is also the son of four-time Olympian Tim Caldwell and grandson of 1952 Olympian and former USST head coach John Caldwell. He’s cousins with Sophie Caldwell, a member of the USST A-team, and a nephew of Sverre Caldwell, Stratton’s nordic director. He trained with Stratton as a postgrad, and at Junior World Championships last February, he tallied 10th in the 20 k skiathlon — a format juniors don’t often do. He was the top American at 2014 NCAA Championships in the 20 k freestyle mass start (fifth overall), and he won the junior 10 k freestyle mass start at U.S. nationals in January.

Also a junior-national champ, Saxton placed second in the skate sprint at U.S. senior nationals in January and was second in the classic sprint at U.S. SuperTour Finals in late March. Also last season, he captured 10th an Alpen Cup classic sprint in Rogla, Slovenia, and was 11th in a 10 k classic race in Switzerland.

“They are on the path right now to potentially being medal-capable seniors down the road,” Grover said. “We wanted to help bridge the gap this year from the NTG [National Training Group].”

While NTG athletes get several opportunities during the offseason to work out with full-fledged USST A- and B-team members — most of which spend the winter overseas on the World Cup — there are some exclusive USST sessions, including testing inside the Center of Excellence (COE) in Park City, Utah. Saxton and Caldwell will now have access to that as D-team members invited to the USST summer camps.

“It’s an unfunded team, first of all,” Grover explained. “There’s no financial resources that we could put toward this. Ideally we would have some resources that we could put towards this. [The] opportunity is joining national team camps … all are open to them. Also, being able to utilize, as Ski Team members, testing facilities and sport science and sports medicine, some of those in-house resources that are reserved for Ski Team athletes. It’s just a minor step between, say, what we’re doing with a National Training Group.”

The two D-team members will have to pay for their own travel, room and board for camps, Grover said. While adding them to the team doesn’t directly impact the USST’s budget, it does put a strain on resources, like coaching.

“You want to make sure that you’re not just going out and grabbing any athlete who’s had a result, but grabbing an athlete who’s on the path for excellence,” Grover said.

A few weeks ago, USST men’s assistant Jason Cork called Saxton and Caldwell individually to inform them of the possibility of being named to the team. According to Saxton, Cork asked if they were interested. Both were, but they had a few questions. What would this mean, exactly? Could they continue studying at Dartmouth? What was this going to require from an attendance, performance and financial standpoint?

“I asked [those questions] and got the answer and liked what I heard,” Saxton said on the phone, sounding somewhat sleepy before class on Monday morning. He spent the weekend fielding congratulations and phone calls from friends and family about the news.

“Obviously I was pretty excited about it — it’s a pretty cool opportunity,” he said. “There are a lot of people that are skiing at a level that would warrant being on a team like this.”

After taking a postgrad year training and racing with the Stratton Mountain School (SMS), Saxton is in his freshman spring term with a full load of classes most days of the week. He hasn’t declared a major or narrowed his concentration just yet, but a college education remains high on his priority list — as it does for his family.

“I chose Dartmouth because academics are pretty important to me and my family,” he said.

Caldwell is in his second year at Dartmouth, but technically part of the freshman class with an interest on economics and geography. This coming winter, he could race for the Big Green during the college season in his second season of NCAA eligibility, but he hasn’t pinned down his ideal race schedule yet, or decided whether to take a summer term.

“When I first got the call [about the D-team], it was shocking,” Caldwell said on the phone from Dartmouth’s campus in Hanover, N.H. “Like, ‘Oh man, stuff’s gonna change. This is gonna mean not skiing for Dartmouth,’ but I realize that in the end, this is going to be great opportunity to keep pursuing skiing as best I can.”

The college’s flexible term schedule, which can work around a ski calendar, also appealed to Saxton, who had previously decided to study in the spring and resume full-time training in the summer. He said being on the USST D-team wasn’t going to require any drastic changes.

“When I first got the call [about the D-team], it was shocking, like, ‘Oh man, stuff’s gonna change. This is gonna mean not skiing for Dartmouth,’ but I realize that in the end, this is going to be great opportunity to keep pursuing skiing as best I can.” — Paddy Caldwell, on recently being nominated to the U.S. Ski Team’s D-team

Saxton previously decided to forgo his NCAA eligibility when Stratton promoted him to its elite SMST2 Team this spring. Two years after graduating high school (he spent his first postgrad season with F.A.S.T. Performance Training in Wisconsin), Saxton has entered the professional-skiing ranks. He’ll mostly race for Stratton when he’s not in the USST suit at international competitions (i.e. U23 World Championships, one of his goals).

2014 U.S. Ski Team Summer Training Camp Schedule:

- Bend, Ore. (May 19-30)- Alaska: Anchorage and Eagle Glacier
(Women: July 6-21, Men: July 13-28)- Lake Placid, N.Y. (Aug. 25-Sept. 8)- Park City, Utah (Oct. 7-29)

Certain camps remain optional for D-teamers, like the upcoming USST camp in Bend, Ore., from May 19-30. The following USST camp in Anchorage, Alaska, and Eagle Glacier in July will be limited because of capacity restrictions on the glacier, Grover explained. There are spots reserved for A- and B-teams, Alaska Pacific University (APU) elite team, and some foreign training partners, which have yet to publicized (and Grover said he’s usually one of the last to know; A-team veteran Kikkan Randall usually coordinates international invites, and she and her teammates like to keep it a surprise).

The U.S. men’s and women’s camps will be staggered on Eagle Glacier, with the women training there from July 6 to 21, and the men going up July 13-28. The team will not travel to New Zealand this year, as its men’s team had recently in the past.

“We’ve been talking about the Alaska option for a few years,” Grover explained. “The women have had some excellent camps up there the past few summers. Noah [Hoffman] had a great camp up there last year. As a men’s team, we did go to NZ last year but we were actually on the Dachstein Glacier/Oberhof Ski Hall the summer before that. The Snow Farm in New Zealand is an excellent place for a training camp so I know we’ll be back at some point.”

After Alaska, the USST will rendezvous in Lake Placid, N.Y., earlier than usual from Aug. 25-Sept. 8, and train at altitude in Park City from Oct. 7-29.

While neither Saxton nor Caldwell had finalized their school and racing schedules for the coming season, they understood the D-team arrangement as a big opportunity. Saxton said it was the first step of moving up the ladder to the B- or A-teams.

“That’s the more important thing for development skiers: go to camps, international races, train with these guys, and of course all the schwagg,” he said. “We’ll race in the suit a couple of times. The most important thing is it will give us the opportunity to train with those guys and work with the national-team coaches.”

At the same time, Saxton and Caldwell will retain their personal coaches: Saxton with Stratton’s former coach Gus Kaeding and whoever comes on as his replacement at the SMST2 Team, Caldwell with Dartmouth men’s coach Ruff Patterson.

“They should continue to work with coaches they’ve worked with,” Grover said. “Just like any other athlete on the Ski Team, it’s up to them whether they want to work with a personal coach or a U.S. Ski Team coach. They’re really not around the national-team staff for us to have a big impact on them; club coaches, that’s who’s going to see them day to day.”

While Caldwell will have to make some decisions about whether he should focus on college racing or international competitions, Grover said the upcoming U.S. nationals and U23 World Championships should be a focus. There will not be any trials for D-team members to earn World Cup starts — if they want to do that, the best way to do so is lead the SuperTour early in the season. Saxton might strive for that.

“We really want to see them be successful with the level they’re at,” Grover said. “Skiing well at U23s and national championships … successful at Europa cups. Those are the places we need them to be successful at right now.”

In terms of World Cup opportunities, it depends on how well those two are skiing compared to USST A- and B-team members. This winter, the U.S. has a reduced national quota of three men’s sprint spots and four men’s distance per race. The women have five sprint and five distance openings, all of which are based on the team’s performances last season.

“We may award a start spot at a given World Cup based on the kind of fitness we see in camp this summer and fall, and it will be awarded purely on Coaches’ Discretion,” Grover explained.

Regardless, Caldwell and Saxton are hungry. The other piece of the puzzle will be figuring out how to pay for it.

“There might be more travel involved,” Caldwell said. “That’s something I’ll look at more closely. This past winter I was able to go to Europe, which was amazing and go to school at the same time. We made it work, but I got a lot of support from the collage and the team and NNF [National Nordic Foundation] financially, I feel like we’ll make it work in that way.”

After meeting at Junior Nationals a few years ago, Caldwell said he and Saxton have become best friends. They’ve traveled to Europe together, know each other well “and I’m really excited we’re going through this together,” Caldwell said.

“I think we’re definitely going to be leaning on each other at times and that’s a good thing,” Saxton said. “I know that we can count on each other and it’s really nice to have a good friend along for the ride.”

About Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (formerly Matthews) is the managing editor at FasterSkier and to most people's surprise, not a guy. When she's not writing, you can find her outdoors in upstate New York or doing the gym thing as a certified personal trainer. Follow her on Twitter @active_alex.

Comments

  1. nordic_dave says:

    Paddy’s best comment and thought to himself at the start of the Skiathlon at Junior Worlds…….”10k to go until skating”.
    He’s obviously a good classic skier but watching him ride a ski while skating is truly a sight to behold.

    Go get’em young lad!

  2. sugarbones says:

    They have to pay their own travel expenses to get to the camps and their room and board as well? Yikes, tight times. I’ll spring for their lunches if someone else could grab breakfast and dinner.

  3. Someone explain to me how Grover still has a job?

    Two men – both already racing in USST suits, already representing USA abroad (with actual $ support from NNF, and volunteer coaches), who will do the same thing again this winter, whose practices with their home club exceed the quality of a national team camp, and whose home coaches are objectively better than USST coaches — are now “invited” to *pay* for Grover’s objectively worse coaching on a couple of weekends per year over the summer and winter.

    Let’s wake up. USSA needs to reorganize around the strength of its clubs. Grover (et al): get over it. You are coordinators, not coaches, and you should have been fired as soon as you showed up without a plan to do that effectively and cost-efficiently. The rest of us are waiting, from the junior to the senior level.

    *Whitcomb is exempt because he essentially founded a successful Park City Nordic Club while his “superiors” were confused about their jobs and busy shuffling papers.

  4. Martin Hall says:

    This is a brilliant move—how you make something out of nothing—bandaids and more bandaids—and some NNF—-nobody outside the team knows how poor this program is—except, maybe, Nordic Dave. I’ve felt for the last few years that it was necessary to do this—give these kids the title of being on the USST, no matter what level, and the fund raising gets way more easier. For these guys making the next step—-the money is the key—they just need to be able to be doing more of what they are doing—-they’ve had the kind of results that says—”Hey, you’re on the right track”. This is some brightness on the men’s side and there a few more, showing the capability. One qualifier for me—doing it here in the states is good, but doing it over there is better.
    This team is growing in size and quality year each year—and remember it takes a community to build a successful skier—the club is an important part of the process—-but only a part.

    I kind of know Grover, Whitcomb, Fish and Cork and I think they’ve laid down a lot of good program over the years they been they’ve and they and the program is only getting better.
    XCQ—you don’t know what it is like until you have done it—you should be supportive of how much blood they’ve squeezed out of this international turnip. I hope your face is red as you kind of blew it.
    Sugarbones, NNF.com and your checkbook need to get to know each other better—-and the one thing you can believe is that your money will be helping that layer that Caldwell, Saxton and others like them have been named to, development! Don’t spare the help—-oops, I should have said money.

  5. No seriously, someone explain to me how Grover still has a job.

    If I write a check for $1000 to either one of these men, they buy a plane ticket to Europe. $2000, same ticket + 1 for a wax tech. $5000, maybe they start to consider planning a training camp over the summer with Hoffman that requires a domestic plane ticket (actually, Hoffman probably buys a plane ticket east, since thats where everybody is… if he cares). I wouldn’t dare guess at the amount of money I would have to cut these guys before they share some of it with Grover. Rinse and repeat that exercise for anyone on USST – the only ones who share with USST staff are Liz and Hoffman, in that order, and the only one getting paid is Whitcomb (see Park City Nordic Club exception above). Rinse and repeat for any domestic athlete with international aspirations – same result. (*prices skewed to 1995 CPI)

    Alternatively, if I send money to USST, Grover gets paid to sit around, probably on a pretty fancy office chair, and decide who is “on” the US Ski Team. Great.

    Marty – I agree with you, USST naming rights is a value add for an athlete. I’m guessing an administrative assistant at USSA figured that out 20 years ago. We also agree money and coaching are key. That does not explain why USST charges money for special sauce that they think matters.

    USA skiing is strong because of clubs. USST coordinates – an administrative function that should get zero attention and create no commotion or politics. But that is the only thing Grover seems to care about. Which is why he is misplaced. USST needs a boring leader who is an enabler. Not sixteen divas.

  6. nordic_dave says:

    @ XCQ uh yah dude seriously have a conversation with Gordon Lange or Robert Lazzaroni about PCNC, I think they might take issue about your PCNC comments. Truly some great club coaches in our midst which make your comments about PCNC and Matt Whitcomb absurd, bizarre and just plain WRONG!

    Paddy and Ben have had some awesome club coaches as well as a host of other coaches and athletes who find themselves reaching international standards. I know many of these coaches personally as I have invested the time as a volunteer in doing so and I know them much better than you ever will. They do their best to coordinate with the USST Coaching staff. Our club coaches are doing an awesome job producing some good skiers. YET when they spend a few weeks in Europe the club pretty much wants their coach back coaching and mentoring at a THE CLUB LEVEL vs. coaching their best few athletes over in Europe. The club tends to think of it as a loss of a coach which they pay for. Trust me on this as I hear about it from the club coaches who in turn hear about from the club Executive Director and parents of dozens if not hundreds of athletes they are responsible for.

    Back to my respected friend Matt Whitcomb, a conversation I had with him last summer as we watched the talented NTG athletes do intervals in my neighborhood. Matt smiles at me and says “I have the best job in the world”. I laugh and say “yes you do, you get to be with the best of the best athletes who come to you from all the various clubs across the continent, how cool is that?”

    Does Erik Flora, Gus Kaeding, Rick Kapala, Dragon, Reid Lutter, Piotr, Sverre Caldwell, Rob Bradley, Josh Smullin, Adam St. Pierre, etc, etc, etc, all have a part in building our success YES THEY DO! Would any of them want Chris Grover’s job? I think not.

    Easy to admire problems and please DO REMEMBER Chris Grover does not dream up operating on 1/16th of a budget that his competing National Teams operate on. I am truly impressed with the results achieved given the funding level which is out of CG’s control. He has no office, gets a an available cubicle when in PC which isn’t a lot. Not sure where you dreamed up all the “secretaries” buzzing about as CG smokes a stogie looking like a fat cat in a big leather chair.

    What you don’t know amazes me! Plenty of things going on this spring both good and bad regarding our sport. Easy to shoot your mouth off about what you don’t like much harder to actually try and make a difference.

    Cheers, ND :)

  7. Great to see these two young skiers getting recognition for their results. My biggest question is why the D team is so small if the skiers are not even being given any financial support, just being allowed to access facilities and attend some camps. There are plenty of other skiers with equally impressive results: Scott Patterson ’92 (2nd at Spring Series 15k right behind Hoff, 18th twice at U23s, top 20 at WJ’s as J1), Kyle Bratrud ’93 (top American in 6th at NCAAs classic race 2014, 14th in skate NCAA race 2014, 10th in NCAA skate race 2013), Logan Hanneman ’93 (5th at US Nationals skate sprint 2014, 4th at US Nationals skate sprint 2013, 11th NCAA classic race 2014, dominate junior skier), Benjamin Lustgarten ’92 (top American in 4th at NCAAs classic race 2013, 8th in NCAAs skate 2014, 6th in 15k classic at US Nationals 2014), and Jake Brown ’92 (4th American in 2013 Birkie, 11th in 30k at US Nationals 2014, future American 50k specialist). Why are we not rewarding these skiers with the ability to pay for USST training camps?

    Also hope the U.S. team does not drop any these guys after top 30 world cup performances as they have done with D team skiers in the past.

  8. swingkick802 says:

    Is the D-Team worth it?
    There are no major advantages to being on the D-team. There is no funding for the athletes, but at the same time the athletes must commit to attending/paying for US ski team camps. The only positives for the athletes are exposure to US ski team athletes/coaches and potential help in receiving new sponsors.
    Why would the US coaches name Saxton and Caldwell to the ski team instead of other athletes?
    Both are young and both are in college. In the past the ski team has not supported college skiing and they continue to advise athletes against college racing. By naming Saxton and Caldwell to the D-Team they are expected to forgo their college racing experience (unless there is illness or poor early season results) and race internationally throughout the winter. Though Saxton was not planning to ski for Dartmouth, Caldwell would have continued on the college circuit.
    The ski team has used this strategy in the past, Bjornsen and Davis in 2012 and a large group of young athletes in 2008 decided to take time to ski before attending college. There is no evidence that this strategy is working for the ski team. Though the college circuit is not as competitive as international races there are many valuable lessons that can be learned from it. One of the major lessons would be how to consistently perform in circuit races (racing every weekend for a couple of months straight.) Some past members of the D-team have placed too much focus on certain races or types of races (Davis) and would arguably be less ready for the world cup circuit than someone fresh off of the college circuit (Sophie Caldwell, Sargent, and Hamilton). College racing not only supports and develops athletes but it also gives them options if their skiing career is not going as planned. Example, Liz Stephen did not attend college while Sargent, Hamilton and Caldwell did (decisions made within a couple of years). Are these three far behind Stephen in results? Many of the ski team members have recognized this and are attempting to take online classes or search for other career options post ski racing.
    Now, bringing all of this together. What is the point of having a D-team and why put Saxton and Caldwell on it? The ski team has been using the D-team (and in the past the B-team) as a way to turn athletes away from college racing without having to fund them. The D-team is only a title, there are no benefits to being on it, but there are expectations and these expectations will keep skiers away from college racing.

  9. @nordic_dave: I’m not sure I have much left to add. NFF built the D-team and the development pipeline that Grover lost control of, and (nearly) everyone @xf30 mentioned is on it (receiving $ support for international starts and continuing to work with their own coaches, the same thing they will be doing more of when they reach world cup status). I’m left scratching my head, and frankly scratching my head at why you aren’t scratching your head, at why NNF isn’t called USST, and USST not called “top heavy.” Earlier I mentioned that USST needs a boring leader who is an enabler. Take it as a compliment – you are doing a pretty good job of leading USST. I only get the gag reflex when I see “USST” trying to butt in.

    The weakness in my arg which you pointed out is the world cup season in Europe that needs dedicated support. Whitcomb is invaluable at this – I can’t find an athlete interview from Europe that didn’t explicitly mention him. Maybe Grover is invaluable at this – I doubt it, I don’t know. The other two – yeah, whatever. I hear we need more wax techs over there. Winter WC Euro coaches are a question worth exploring – I don’t think Grover’s going to be the one to solve it – but in the mean time he’s screwed up the rest of the puzzle badly enough that it’s definitely time to go.

  10. T.Eastman says:

    Swingster, a practical advantage of being named to the “D Team” is that it can be leveraged to recruit funding to those skiers. It does come with the acknowledgement of USST staff, USSA, and the gear sponsors that these skiers are players. The fact that others were not named increases the marketability of those named.

    Funds are horribly tight and small gestures like this nomination are not taken lightly by any of those involved.

    College racing is an excellent step for many US skiers as they go from Junior hours to real training. Many young skiers flourish when combining academics with ski racing but others will do better to forgo schooling so they can fully commit to skiing. It is a choice and both work. Predicting future results for either group is a dark art at best.

    On the brighter side, these guys will likely be better ambassadors for the sport than Mr. Northug…

    … likely seeking sponsorship from a beer company or an auto repair firm!

  11. nordic_dave says:

    XCQ, long sigh….. thank you for the compliment on defacto NGB status. The NNF however does not coach athletes, select athletes, organize events, wax skis, etc… We do one thing and we try and do it well. Currently we fill that awkward funding nich in our dysfunctional system between Junior Nationals and World Cup races. Some call it the “Development Pipeline” call it what you want but it is a process. Hence we focus on the key milestones that athletes need to reach, i.e. U16 National Camp, U18 Scando Trip , various Scando and OPA Cup events, U23 & Junior Worlds and unfunded World Cup starts as well as unfunded World Championship team members. As we grow we hope to fund more.

    Bryan Fish is the man that executes much of the plan for these events below the World Cup & World Championship level. He does a great job and his USSA budget is ZERO, yes the NNF is his biggest source of funding, i.e. 70% of the cost for U23 & Junior Worlds for example which runs about $100k a year. He will probably partner with Jason Cork regarding opportunities for the D team athletes and how to utilize them best during the racing season. Currently I have only seen the training camp schedule for the new D teamers which allows them to be in the mix with the A & B team which to me has value. Bryan knows how to develop and execute a plan which is not easy as much of his life is out of a suit case year round. He may not be as smooth a talker as others but one thing I have learned from Bryan, he knows what the hell he is doing in regards to athlete development.

    It may be that these D teamers pursue college, I’m betting Paddy stays at Dartmouth yet I smile when he’s on one of our funded trips/ events cause I know both Ben and Paddy can get some great results. Hopefully this is the start of something to build on rather than a false start.

    Long diatribe, scuse me…but it is never as black and white as you think. When I first got involved as a percieved “newbie” I found so many factions and war lords in the XC community, I thought I was in Afghanistan. Our best go forward strategy is to collaborate together, worts and all. If the only contention the NNF creates is which State beats the other State in the D25 contest for the Title of Uber State Nordic Status then I’m a smiling man.

  12. ^^^ nominate for USSA program director (no offense, don’t touch the skiers). Whitcomb is head coach (all the club coaches get a USSA jacket too).
    - I’m guessing you smile just as wide when any other NNF funded U23 or jr world athlete gets a result – same as the rest of the nation does. “USST” does not matter.
    - I’ll save my breath for now. Every move should have purpose, every $ a reason. @nordic_dave gets it. “USST” does not. Whitcomb, @nordic_dave, a handful of wax techs, a bunch of club coaches, a bunch of athletes, and USSA resources might well put together a pretty awesome year for USA skiing and a lean mean system to go forward with. “In this economy,” “USST” is spending a lot and not providing much that we don’t already have. Thank you for your honest opinions @nordic_dave (and hard work). Until the next “announcement.”

  13. nordic_dave says:

    Thanks XCQ, I do smile, these XC kiddos are so cool, focused working hard and it is a total honor to get to know each and everyone of them.

    Until the next time because there is so much more to do.

  14. Nominating these two bright young skiers to the USST is undoubtedly a positive move; the fundraising aspect that Marty alluded to will be crucial down the road. However, I have to question whether access to USST camps is going to help anyone. I have never viewed these camps as beneficial… I would go so far to say that they are even harmful to skiers like Benjamin and Patrick! Now that they have been nominated, they will feel obligated to spend money flying or driving to camps to maintain their status on the team (and satisfy the diva coaches) when they could instead save their money (and max out their annual Roth IRA contribution), stay at home, and train equally effectively with their club coaches. The camps result in a net loss in funds, which are short for young skiers, and no net gain in training or results. Some claim that their are intangible benefits for young skiers to train with USST skiers and coaches, as if the veterans’ success will rub off on them (I use success as a relative term). However, I would argue that while those benefits may exist for younger inexperienced juniors, Saxton and Caldwell are at the age and experience level where the benefits have evaporated (not to mention that both already train with half the US Ski Team at Stratton, making the point moot). So… why have the camps in the first place, when they are costly and time-consuming? I agree with xcq. The camps seem to be a reflection of the USST’s wasteful attitude and the coaches’ apparent need feel important and exercise their “discretion”, when in fact they are glorified managers reaping the success of club coaches.

  15. Also, one has to wonder whether spending money to develop skiers is worth it at all: many here (with the exception of xcq) seem to misunderstand the time-value of money The NNF and donors have failed to discount the future stream of benefits resulting from money spent on development in the present, which (depending on the discount rate used) can significantly alter the cost effectiveness of the D-Team. When performing a cost/benefit analysis, using a fairly standard discount rate of .1, the present value of an olympic Medal 15 years from now (which I will generously value at 500,000 dollars) is less than $120. The implication is that even if merely giving Paddy and Ben free ski suits in the present directly and completely pays off in an Olympic medal 15 years down the road, the NNF would end up WORSE OFF (accounting for the value of the medal, obviously development costs money) if the free suits cost over 120 dollars in the present. Instead, the NNF and USST should stop ALL aid of any sort in the present, reallocate those funds to a mutual fund, and use the returns to fully fund a club skier in the future that appears to have short term medal hopes. Only then will the benefits of support outweigh the costs.

  16. It would be nice if the USST had a clear criteria for the D-Team. Are we basing the nominations solely on international results, or domestic/college results or both? Caldwell was 10th at WJ, Saxton’s best result at U23′s was 33rd. Caldwell was very consistent at the EISA races and was the top American in the 20km skate at NCAA’s. Saxton made the podium at US nationals in the skate sprint. Besides being associated with Stratton, what is the other criteria? If they are trying to ‘revive’ the D-Team, they should have included a few others. Namely, Scott Patterson. This guy is the real deal, as seen at Spring Series, WJ’s, U23′s, college circuit, JN’s, etc. He’s been right at top of his age group for YEARS now (kudos to AWS Jan Buron and UVM for keeping him there). xf30, spot on with all those names. I will also add Sawyer Kesselheim and Cole Morgan, products of BSF Bozeman, to that list as well. Both JN champions, both have had top 30 results at WJ’s, both have been there or thereabouts in college races. Kesselheim was 9th (half second behind Caldwell) at NCAA’s, beat Patterson in both races at NCAA’s, top junior at US nationals in 2013, and has beaten guys like Bjornsen, Hanneman, Havlick and Saxton (at Junior level as well) at SuperTour’s. Morgan is very good at sprinting and I think he has a chance to become the next ‘great’ American sprinter on the international stage. On top of all of that, all of these college racers have to race against 27 year old European sophomores. Not an easy thing to do.

  17. faceshots says:

    no seriously, someone tell me why Grover has a job. Kermit does not appreciate his antics and Fozzy clearly doesn’t either!

  18. thenordictribune says:

    some interesting thoughts here, I will link my newest blog article about the ski team to this comment.

    http://thenordictribune.blogspot.com/

  19. caldxski says:

    Well, I have been meaning to get this info out for awhile and now seems to be a good time.

    I have studied the results of the WC, WSC and OWG for a few years, paying particular attention to the ages of the top 30 in every race, and here is what I found:

    FACT: About 2/3 of the top 30 finishers in these races are between the ages of 25 and 30. About 1/6th of them are under 25 and 1/6th are over 30. In general, the women are a bit younger than the men and the sprinters are usually younger than the overall average age.

    OPINION: A few years ago the USST made a concerted effort to discourage skiers from attending college. I am not sure they are so gung-ho with this approach now. I figured that skiers who went to college, got support and coaching for four years, plus decent racing, stood a better chance of maturing as they approached, say, the 25-year marker, than skiers who graduated from the junior class and did not have a good alternative, or even those who started on the Euro circuit.
    I didn’t think the USST was justified in asking a skier to stay out of college unless they were able to offer lots of support. I still feel the same.
    It’s been my observation that our skiers mature more slowly than Euro skiers, for many reasons which I will not go into here, save for saying one big reason is that our skiers do not get enough exposure to the Euros. I still find no reason to expect our skiers to mature as fast or faster than the Euros.
    The ages of three of our top skiers, Randall, Newell and Stephen, support my thinking.
    Patience is called for, plus more good club systems that can help out the younger skiers.

    John CAldwell

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