Following the outstanding US Team results at the World Championships, we have had a number of people write in to ask, “Is the US Team really that much faster now, or is there just less doping among the other top nations?” We decided to ask Pete Vordenberg, US Ski Team assisant coach to answer this question.
Yesterday was Hollmenkollen extrordinare. It was raining and snowing and foggy and the trails were lined with people who had camped out all night. I mean lined with these people. Testing wax at 7am half of them were still zipped up in their bags. The other half were up and yelling at me over their fires. HEJA HEJA. GO USA. And all I'm doing is testing wax.
The racers skied through a rain and snow storm on a crazy hard trail in tough waxing conditions through camp fire smoke and yelling, screaming drunk and wild fans. I don't know if that is ski culture or party culture. Maybe there isnt a difference in Norway.
Our skis for the race were OK to Good. Wendy Wagner put up her best result of the year – 27th. Our boys didn't quite put up their best result. Carl and Kris were running around the top 30 and top 20, but ended up dying hard. Andrew Johnson was off to a great start but faded as well.
We had high expectations. We were among the best at Worlds, top five, and so we wanted to be here too. As well we should. We are good enough to win.
We are disapointed but not discouraged. We still know what we can do, and we can win at the World Cup level. If not this spring, then in the near future. This is something we believe.
How has the US come this far? In my mind: Training, Talent, Team, Organization.
Miles Minson and Chris Grover deserve huge credit for helping Kris Freeman and Andrew Johnson develop their talent. Kris Freemen deserves huge credit for over coming huge barriers and mostly for training his ass off every day, all year, for a lot of years. That is the secret. I have seen it. Carl Swenson has done… the same thing. He has trained hard for years all year, most every day.
These are talented skiers who have trained hard. And they are a part of a team. Creating a team, a true team, was Trond Nystad's priority as head coach. He has done a great job doing this. We are a team and a team that believes in its potential and its ability today – in spite of set backs – to be the best. They are also a part of Luke Bodensteiners vision…Luke has put a lot of effort into making skiing a viable way of life – a ski culture in America. There are thousands of dollars available at the Continental Cup every weekend in the US and Canada – do well, reap the rewards. Kris, Carl and Wendy have done well, they have been rewarded by more than a pat on the back. Not that they are even close to wealthy for it, but Luke's efforts have helped them and many others pursue the sport for more than peanuts. That is a new idea. The orgainization is pointed in the right direction.
Drug busts. Taking drugs a bit more out of the equation has helped us rise in the ranks. This is only a part of the story. We have caught up to countries who have no history of doping but who do have a history of kicking ass. It is not the case that everyone else dopes and that now they can't. There have been many clean winners over the years, and people are still getting away with doping. Count on it. We will fight the doping battle off the race course, and we will beat dopers in the races as well.
Young skiers should take note. We are a first class ski nation. We have huge numbers at our national championships, we have top five results at the top international level. You have resourses at your finger tips, info on training, technique, ski care, etc. There is great skiing in the US even compared to places famous for skiing. The only thing you have to do is seek out the best for yourself. It wont come to you. And you have to train!
US Ski Team assistant coach.
Pete also recently published a book: Momentum, Chasing the Olympic Dream . This is about Pete's career as a ski racer and can be found at http://www.outyourbackdoor.com.