Michael Sinnott began skiing with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho. As a junior, Sinnott won two Junior National Championships in McCall, Idaho, and Jackson, New Hampshire, respectively. From 2004-2007 Sinnott raced for Dartmouth College, balancing his training with a major in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. According to Sinnott, attending college “was a simple decision. Skiing is not a sustainable way of life…So I made sure to keep myself in play for both the ‘real world’ and the ski world.”
In 2006 Sinnott placed 5th in the 50K Classic at US Nationals in Fort Kent, Maine; in 2007 he was named an NCAA Division I All-American in the 20K Classic; and all four years at Dartmouth, Sinnott was named to the NCAA Division I Skiing Championships Team.
After graduation, Sinnott continued training with housemate Noah Hoffman in Sun Valley, and in 2008 won a silver medal at the US Distance National Championships, a bronze in the team sprint at US Nationals, and participated in the World Cup in Canmore. “I’ve seen [the Olympics] from the stands, and I want to be on the other side,” says Sinnott, who is focusing his energy on making the 2010 Olympic Team. Despite his success on skis, Sinnott’s favorite dryland activity is soccer, and when he is not training, he nurses injuries from intense foosball games.
Hometown: Sun Valley, Idaho
Current Residence: Sun Valley, ID
Ski Club: SVSEF
Sponsors: Saab Salomon team
When did you start ski racing, and what were some highlights of your young skiing career?
I started skiing at a very young age, before memories really. Its been a family thing for us. Highlights as a youth really include the travel and the fun of it all. I loved doing training camps in Banff national Park – going for all day runs in these rugged mountains, and knowing that tomorrow is more of the same. I was fortunate to travel to Europe and see how the other side treats its Nordic life-style. That was an eye-opener, as far as ski culture goes, we are lagging.
Who has been the most influential person for you, whether as a skier or a person?
Myself. I am my own person. I may borrow and learn from others, but in the end, it’s all about being you, deciding what’s right for you, and taking responsibility for yourself. So the influences I have taken, I have chosen to take, and I made those decisions. Making me the biggest influence. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, but I just find it silly to try to some up a person in the image of another.
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?
One of the coolest places to race, i’ve found, is Oak Hill in Hanover, NH. The trouble is, you can only race there once every 7 years due to lack of good snow. It has great downhills and unforgiving climbs. Really, anything designed by John Morton is awesome. The Greens, located just down the road in Lyme, NH is equally fun but twice as large. Favorite place to just ski may be in Mont Saint Anne, Quebec, that or Lillehamer. The extensive trails, natural beauty, and rigor make them stand out for me. I’ve never raced either location, but love ’em both. I love the race part of the race season, and skiing on extra blue, on klister days. Was this one question or four?
What drives you to succeed at the highest possible level, and what are your long-term goals as a skier?
I’m driven by an unnatural competitive side, that haunts my everyday life. That and a love for skiing. It’s easiest when you go the fastest, remarkable. Long term goals are to go to the Olympics, as an athlete. I’ve seen them from the stands, and I want to be on the other side. But I’d also like to compete, not merely be in the competition. I want to be a threat and leave it all out on the course.
What are your favorite race formats/distances, and do you try to specialize for these events?
I don’t like specialization. It’s too limiting. Every race brings a challenge and a fun aspect, even the hodgepodge events like the Bogburn classic where the racer cruises through a tight single track with fallen racers at every corner. Awesome. I try to do all, and iron out the weaknesses. You never know when a sprint will win the marathon.
What are your overall goals for this season?
This year I want to make World Champs and continue to build on success from last year. It’s really a year to put myself in the best position for success next year.
Do you have any consistent training partners? Do you prefer training alone or with others?
I train with a team, and with some top notch athletes. Noah Hoffman is my housemate, and Colin Rodgers lives just a few miles north, so we get out and do plenty together, tackling the backcountry and the road country. Simi Hamilton was out here this summer for light hearted hammering too. There’s plenty others, but those are the bigger names. We have a ball, and I think that’s what makes it work in Sun Valley. It’s a hard working group that has fun doing it.
What is your favorite on snow workout and favorite dryland workout?
I don’t think there’s a better dryland workout than a full game of soccer. You are working hard for 90 minutes, on muscles and motions oft-ignored, and its fun. It’s something that’s not skiing, which adds balance to the hours of dedication. And its soccer. What could be better? On snow, I like to play a game we invented (more like altered) last year, in which a group of skiers go for a distance ski. Simple. But the real goal is to be second place during the ski. First is the worst kind of thing. There is a lot of learning to pass people and use quick motions and becoming comfortable in a pack. Plus it’s such a dangerous melee.
What do you enjoy doing besides skiing?
Soccer mostly, as well as getting overly involved in an inane thing (thing competitive side. I have foosball injuries). I spend afternoons trying to wakeboard, and I go bird-dogging in the summers. Also a lot of peak bagging, and reading. I like the brain a lot, I studied that in college. There’s so much unknown about it. Really, I like many things, and succumb to a little peer pressure or goading.
In terms of employment, are you a 100% full-time athlete, or do you have another job besides training/racing? If so, what do you do?
Ski racing is a job. If you aren’t committed, you’re wasting time.
How long do you think you will ski at the elite level? What do you see yourself doing after you finish your ski career?
Ill ski until I’m no longer elite. Its fun, and it provides unrivaled opportunities. I like what I do, and not many people can say that. Afterwards, who knows. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. No use in planning my retirement when I’m just beginning.
Do you or did you ever attend college? How did you make that decision?
I went to Dartmouth College, graduating in 2007. It was a simple decision. Skiing is not a sustainable way of life, its even more ridiculous than being, say, a pro basketball player. There is adequate resources on the college circuit to make a world class athlete – if you take advantage and work for it. So I made sure to keep myself in play for both the “real world” and the ski world.
Do you enjoy racing/competing in other sports during the offseason? Did
you play other sports as a kid? What are some of your favorite non-skiing competitions?
I’ve always played soccer, and competed in both the fall and spring seasons since middle school. I also ran track for a few years, using it as a decompression tool for the usually rigorous training.
What do you do with any spare time at training camps or on race trips?
I think every training camp brings something new. Having a go-to “down time” isn’t really down time. Tis scheduled rest. I do with the flow and find out what’s available. Sometimes that’s an epic best of 15 cribbage tournament. Sometimes that jumping on the flow-rider, or shopping, or napping excessively. Basically I live, and take what the camp gives me.
What does your diet consist of? Do you have a favorite pre-race dinner and breakfast?
Diet consist of food. I don’t over think it. Just consume calories, avoid excess sugars and fats. Pasta is a great pre-race meal, maybe Chicken Parm. But I’m not picky.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I can’t look left. Honest.
How do you spend your weeks off?
This last year I went tele skiing a lot, and also visited friends in Aspen, Santa fe, and Reno. I guess my off-weeks are just toned down adventuring with friends who don’t ski. Plus skiing.
What is the best race or workout you have ever done?
Allah only knows.
What race events are in your plan for this season, and which race are you are looking forward to the most?
I started with the early super tours, then on to the “whistler” races in Silver Star. Anchorage follows, along with, hopefully, Whistler World Cups. The race season gets interesting because its dependant on success. Ill either qualify for races or I wont. So you never can tell. But that’s what keeps things exciting and makes all the races important.
What else do you want to say?
Cut down your number of questions. Anyone this interested in what I have to say had better be a relative.
Action photo courtesy of Patrick Sinnott.