It has been a long time on the World Cup for 32-year-old U.S. Ski Team sprinter Andy Newell.
Newell flew back to Vermont earlier this week, skipping the final European World Cup races of the season in Lahti, Finland. In a phone interview on Wednesday, he cited a need to recharge and reflect on what has been a long season, while preparing for the upcoming Ski Tour Canada — World Cup Finals — from March 1-12.
Over the last decade, Newell has been chasing World Cup points in pursuit of the Sprint Crystal Globe. That’s taken a toll, he said.
“It’s been quite a few years of doing that and I’ve just felt like it was time for me to come home and take a break and kind of reevaluate things a little bit,” he said. “For the past month or two months, I’ve been really wrestling with the notion of possibly retiring from ski racing.”
Newell started the season off strong. His first European foray, a classic sprint in Gallivare, Sweden, Newell placed second behind Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov. In the first World Cup of the 2015/2016 season, Newell opened with a fourth-place finish in the classic sprint in Kuusamo, Finland.
Since Jan. 5 at the Tour de Ski’s classic sprint in Oberstdorf, Germany, where Newell placed ninth, he’s had a tough go of it. It’s not something his strong start to the season would have foretold.
Back home training, FasterSkier asked Newell what he was most proud of in terms of his World Cup career. His response speaks to his longevity as one of the world’s elite sprinters.
“I’m proud of that kind of consistency,” he said. “I think if you were to look back on the start list when I did get that first podium back in 2006, I don’t think you’d see any guys that are still racing now, not to mention still qualifying on the World Cup sprints. … I think being able to adapt year after year, and stay relevant and stay current in the sprints has been a challenge, but also something I’m proud of.”
Newell’s results over the years illustrate his stamina. He was the eighth-ranked World Cup sprinter at the end of the season in 2006. He finished the season sixth again in 2007, then rose to fourth in 2010 and fifth overall as recently as 2013.
In the interview, Newell also discusses possible plans for his skiing future and a life immersed developing the next generation of U.S. talent.
But before then, before any final decisions are made, Newell will try to rekindle his groove for the Ski Tour Canada — a series of races most likely not to be his last World Cups, but perhaps his last as a full-time World Cup athlete.