Andrew Newell was born in Shaftsbury, VT in 1983 and began ski racing when he was five in the Prospect Mountain Bill Koch Program. During his developmental years he attended Stratton Mountain School in VT under the coaching of Sverre Caldwell and Amy Caldwell and was named to the US Ski Team in 2005.
Since then Newell has consistently been one of the top sprinters for the US, placing 2nd in the sprint in the 2007 World Cup in Lahti, 5th in the classic sprint at the 2007 World Championships, and 3rd in the sprint in the 2006 World Cup in Changchun, China, among several other outstanding finishes. Although Newell has focused on sprinting in his training with the US Ski Team, he hopes to cross into the distance events by the 2014 Olympics.
When Newell is not training, he likes to surf in Central America. “The more I travel,” Newell says, “the more I realize how awesome it is here in Vermont.” A true proponent of xc skiing, Newell has worked hard to bring the sport more into the mainstream, producing several videos of both racing and tricks on his skinny skis to give Nordic skiing the exciting edge he believes it deserves.
Birthdate: November 30, 1983
Hometown: Shaftsbury Vermont
Current Residence: wherever I need to be
Ski Club: Stratton Mt. School
Status on U.S. Ski Team: World Cup
Best Results: 2nd place World Cup Lahti, 3rd place world Cup Chanchun, 5th place World Champs 2007
Sponsors: Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Rudy Project, Power Bar, Spectra Energy, Red Bull
When did you start ski racing, and what were some highlights of your young skiing career?
I started ski racing when I was 5 or 6. I was part of the Prospect Mountain Bill Koch program and competed every year in the festivals. It was really exciting to have a big race like that every year to prepare for. I was always near the top of the results but could never pull of a win, until my final year as a J3 I pulled it off at Prospect. I was stoked!
Who has been the most influential person for you, whether as a skier or a person?
There have been so many people that have had a big influence on me as a skier. Growing up in Vermont we would hear these legendary stories about the way Koch, Gallagher, and Caldwell used to train like animals, so we wanted to be like them. I’ve been blessed with great coached over the years too. I’ll never forget the way Bucky Broomhall taught me how to classic ski when I was younger, he was a master at it. During my developmental years Sverre Caldwell had a huge influence on me as a coach. He taught me how to train hard, think like a skier, and enjoy the sport. Once on the US team Trond Nystad and Vidar Loefshus had a huge impact by turning the program around and showing us that we could be competitive. Since then Pete Vordenberg and Chris Grover have put their heart and sole into US Skiing, and have taken the program to the next level. I owe a lot to those guys.
Where is your favorite place to ski, where is your favorite place to race, what is your favorite part of the season, what are your favorite ski conditions?
My favorite place to race is anywhere that you can pack a lot of people onto the side of the trail. I like it to be so loud it hurts your ears so ski by. Having sprints in cities and stadiums is a great way to do that and step up the excitement.
What drives you to succeed at the highest possible level, and what are your short term and long-term goals as a skier?
Breaking the mold of cross-country skiing is what drives me to the highest level. Showing the world that American’s can win medals, but most of all that our programs are in it for the long run. Once we reach the top we don’t want it to be another 25 years before it happens again.
How and when did you decide to become a sprinter, and do you see yourself transitioning to become a distance racer as well?
I started to focus on sprinting after high school when I was named to the US development team. I was still increasing in hours each year, but just adjusted the intensity toward sprinting because we saw that as a potential medal event. I think it was a good decision, and now that I’m getting older I’ll start to cross back over into the distance events. I did my first 50k this past spring and it was rad. I’m looking to become competitive in the longer races by the 2014 Olympics.
Do you have any consistent training partners? Do you prefer training alone or with others?
The US Team has camps set up so that we are not training on our own for more that a few weeks at a time. We show up and hammer on each other for two weeks, then go home and train alone for a little bit. I train up at SMS a lot when I’m in Vermont and have a big support crew in Park City when I’m there too. It keeps things interesting.
What is your favorite on snow and dryland workout?
I like hammering. Nothing is more exciting that actually racing, but if we’re just training I’d prefer that we do intervals. Otherwise I get bored. Sometimes I’m in the mood for long lever 3 intervals, and other times I like to do short fast ones.
What do you enjoy doing besides skiing?
Blasting Metallica while skating a good bowl and drinking PBR.
Have you always wanted to be a professional ski racer?
I knew I always wanted to be a professional athlete. It wasn’t until I went over for my first Junior World Championships that I saw how exciting ski racing in Europe could be because there were actually spectators. Ever since then I’ve been hooked.
If you weren’t ski racing, how would you be employed? Do you have any other means of employment to support your ski career?
Professional skateboarder, haha
How long do you think you will ski professionally? What do you see yourself doing after you finish your ski career?
I see myself racing through the 2014 Olympics, and probably even longer. Then I’ll retire somewhere on an island. No, I’ll probably take a break, but I don’t seeing myself straying too far from the skiing community. I feel like I’ve learned so much about the sport that it would be a waste it I didn’t try to pass that on to the next generation of skiers.
You seem to place a lot of credit for your success on SMS. How did Stratton help you develop as a skier and as a person, and how is your current relationship with the program?
I’m not sure where I’d be if I hadn’t attended SMS. Sverre is the best coach and it is an amazing program, and it really prepared me for a career in athletics. . We were taught not only how to train well, but the basics of sports physiology and sports nutrition. Most of all we learned of to manage our time with academics and skiing and conduct ourselves in a professional way.
Did you ever officially attend college? How did you make that decision?
I took a few classes over the Internet, but never attended college. It was a huge decision, but in the end I wanted to take a chance. I wanted to try to break the mold of the traditional US skier and try to make money skiing and go for the Olympics. Looking back on it I think it was the right decision.
Do you enjoy racing/competing in other sports during the offseason, or did you play other sports as a kid? What are some favorite non-skiing competitions?
I played tons of sports as a kid, but now I only compete in skiing. I spend my off time participating in different sports like skateboarding and surfing. It’s weird; I’m not a very competitive person so I don’t have a huge desire to compete in other sports. Ski racing takes up most of my competitive aggression.
How do you pass the time while traveling? Do you have an essential item that you bring with you everywhere?
Video games and iPod. I like traveling with a big group so when everyone is around it’s fun to hang out and play cards and stuff.
What does your diet consist of? Do you have a favorite pre-race dinner and breakfast? Do you enjoy eating foreign food when you travel?
I just try to eat healthy, and in the winter it’s all about getting enough food to get you through the race weekend. When you start traveling as much as we do there’s no way you can have a ‘pre race’ meal planned out because you never know what you’re going to get.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I love cats. I actually like all animals, but cats are my favorite.
Perhaps more than any other U.S. skier, we know that you are well rounded as a person outside skiing, and enjoy many other pastimes. How do you spend your weeks off?
When I get two weeks off from training in the springtime I usually head somewhere warm. I grew up going to the beach a lot as a kid, and was a lifeguard for a number of years, so I love the water. Taking surf trips to some sketchy Central American country is my favorite past time.
You seem to have a lot of Vermont pride. How did that develop, and what does being from Vermont mean to you?
I think a lot of it comes from the legendary Vermont skiers and how rich the xc skiing culture is here in VT. We’re from Vermont and we do what we want! Haha. The more I travel the more I realize how awesome it is here in Vermont. That’s why I have the outline of the state tattooed on the inside of my arm.
Your ski videos have inspired a whole generation of Nordic skiers/jumpers. What was that stage of your career like, and do you see yourself producing any more?
Making movies is a great way to inspire people, and I love that. All I’ve ever wanted to do was show people that cross country skiing is exciting and that it should be more of a mainstream sport. We were always messing around and doing tricks on our skis so we just added that element to the films too. It’s been a few years, but I’m in the process of putting together another film. This one will focus more on the racing aspect of our sport, but there’s bound to be some gnarly stuff in there too.