Ive been traveling to many of the races this winter with Patrick Weaver.
Patricks 16th place finish in the 15km classic at last years
Olympics was one of the many fantastic results turned in by the North American
contingent. At age 33, Patrick is one of the most experienced racers on the
circuit and having him as a traveling companion has certainly made my transition
to a full time ski racer much easier. I know that he has experienced the full
spectrum of what it means to be a professional ski racer in the United States.
Hes logged endless hours of training, spent a great deal of time living
on the road, put other aspects of his life on hold, and dedicated himself to
his goal of achieving international success in cross country ski racing. Patrick
is a good example of the success that American ski racers can have if they have
support that allows them to stay involved long enough to reach their full potential.
Here is a short interview that I did with Patrick this winter.
1998 and 2002 Olympic Team, 16th place in OWG 15km classic.
2-time National Champion
Hometowns: Lenox, Mass. & Bend, Oregon
Sponsors: Home Depot, Atomic skis, Yoko gloves and poles, Toko wax, and
Favorite foods: Italian, Mexican and a good cheese bagel
Favorite drink: A good cup of coffee in the morning!
Patrick at an Olympic Press Conference
Tim: "So Patrick, heres a time tested question. How did you get
into the sport and what path did you take to get to this point in your career?"
Weaver: "Skiing was a family activity. I started when I was about 6, but
I didnt get into racing until high school. I did a post-graduate year
at Stratton Mountain School and then went on to ski in college at The University
of New Hampshire. I made the national team my third year racing out of college.
This was a major accomplishment for me, and it made gaining financial support
much easier. Making the Olympic team in 1998 was very exciting and then I became
involved in Home Depots Olympic Job Opportunity Program. Their support
is a major reason why I can continue to ski race today."
Tim: What are your racing plans for this season?
Weaver: "I plan on doing the Continental Cup circuit then US Nationals.
If I qualify and feel like I would be an asset to the team, then Id like
to compete at the World Championships, in Italy. If I dont go to Italy,
then Ill be racing in a number of marathons throughout the country and
then going to Presque Isle, Maine for the NENSA spring Series in late march."
Racing at the 2002 Olympics
Tim: Do you have any thoughts on the issue of drug doping in the sport?
Weaver: "Its a shame that people have to cheat, but I try not to
let it affect my performance or how much enjoyment I get out of being involved
in this sport. Hopefully, the people who are working to clean up the sport will
gain the upper hand."
Tim: How about all the race format changes that have recently taken place.
Do you like the new form of pursuit, more mass starts, sprints?
Weaver: "I like the changes because they add a little more excitement
to our sport. The new form of pursuit is much better than the older forms of
the pursuit and it adds an interesting twist to the race. Being more of distance
specialist myself I have mixed emotions about having more and more sprint events.
I do think they can be a very exciting part of the sport but I also hope that
they dont replace too many of the traditional distance races."
Tim: You mean youre not interested in becoming a sprinting specialist?
Weaver: (Laughs) "No, probably not any time soon."
Tim: Where are a few of your favorite places to ski or race?
Weaver: "Crust cruising in the mountains around Bend, Oregon in the spring
has to be right near the top of the list. When the snow is just right and the
sun is shining it doesnt get any better. Racing at Soldier Hollow, Utah
with big crowds is also right up there."
Heading towards the finish
Tim: It must have been a great experience to be a part of last years
Olympic team. Can you tell us what the most exciting moments of the games were
Weaver: "Having the opportunity to race in America with such a big and
enthusiastic crowd was one of the biggest thrills of my life. The 15km classic
went very well for me so that was very exciting. The team really came together
and put up some impressive results. The 5th place finish in the relay
was a huge step forward for the team and I think the USs international
success will continue this year. Also, Becky Scotts race where she became
the true Olympic champion was quite a memorable event."
Weaver with two of his fans
Its certainly nice to have guys like Patrick on the circuit to give
advice to younger guys like myself. Recently, at the US Nationals it was quite
evident that the field was, on the whole, quite young. While there is a great
supply of young talented skiers, there are very few skiers over 30 competing.
This is unfortunate and should be remedied if we hope to build a stronger skiing
community. The American ski community benefits greatly by having skiers like
Patrick around not only because of their ability but also because they are such
strong role models for younger athletes.