InterviewsNewsMWSC Coach Will Sweetser

FasterSkier FasterSkierAugust 14, 2003

Will Sweetser is a former Dartmouth Ski Team racer, who is currently coaching with the highly sucessful Maine Winter Sports Center.

Age: 32

Height: 5’8"

Weight: 156

Single or married: married (ex racer Sarah Dominick)

Hometown: Auburn, ME

Current town of residence: Stockholm, ME
Full-time or part-time coach: full time
On salary/paid or volunteer coach: salaried

Athletes or Team: currently working as County Team Coach (high school age group)
for the Maine Winter Sports Center. Former coach at, chronologically: Auburn
Middle School, Bates College, Jackson Hole Ski Club, Carrabassett Valley Academy,
Rangeley Lakes Ski Club

 

Favorite movies: any James Bond, something to do with years of Thanksgiving
Camp and TBS Week of Bond coincidence.

Favorite food: Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad

Favorite musical artist: U2

Favorite book or TV show: book, please



Did you take a vacation after this past race season ended? If so, where did
you go?

Solleftea, Sweden to visit former MWSC coach Per Nilsson. The rollerski loop
there is absolutely fantastic. The ski gymnasium, under the leadership of Bengt
Statin is doing some interesting research on training and racing speed correlation
on skis, rollerskis and uphill foot time trials. I guess it was kind of a working
vacation.



What is your (or your athletes) favorite place to ski? Favorite place to
race? Favorite place to train (skiing or dryland)?
Let’s stick to the
athletes I work with now: simple answer, Aroostook County, Maine. I might add
that this area was noticeably absent from Mr. Smith’s search for the perfect
ski town.



Why do you enjoy being a ski coach? What part of being a ski coach don't
you enjoy?

I truly enjoy being given the opportunity, every single day, to give back to
the sport that gave me so much. It is a pleasure to offer the kids of rural
Maine a chance to improve their health, fitness, organizational skills, learning
styles and breadth of experience through skiing. And, how can one complain about
the lifestyle? I’m outside almost every day running, skiing, hiking and
paddling through beautiful scenery. I will admit, however, to being a total
dud when it comes to paper work–still.



If you weren't a ski coach, what would you rather be doing?

Writing short stories and outdoor articles from a cabin in Wyoming.

What are the five main philosophies you coach by?
I really just coach by one philosophy: skiing is a lifetime sport. I guess
this guides me to make certain that skiing is fun, that I don’t rush a
skier’s development, that I strive to create well-informed independent
thinkers, that I emphasize health and that I encourage skiers to enjoy other
pursuits.


What do you spend most time with when you are on the road at races or training
camps?

Learning to have fun as a team within an individual sport. We work a good deal
with how one athlete can help him or herself by supporting the others on the
team. Of course, with high school skiers, I also spend a fair amount of time
keeping up with modern culture and discussing its merits–or lack thereof.



What were your best or most memorable races (for your athletes) – last season
or earlier?

The Nordic Heritage Sprints, in Presque Isle, over New Year’s
last season were just great. Home course, U.S. and Canadian National Team racers,
fireworks and a victory by MWSC Coach John Farra! Couldn’t be too much
more exciting than that for a young skier.



How do you deal with bad races?
Ruff Patterson actually had a multiple choice question about this on the Dartmouth
Ski Team Final Exam in 1991. I believe the correct answer was C. ski quietly
into the woods for your cool down and don’t come out until you’ve
come to grips with your performance. I stick to that answer with my team today.



What are your coaching goals for the upcoming season?
I’ve got 43
high school skiers training with me this year, if they remember this season
as fun and educational a decade from now, I’ll have hit a homerun. Heck
if 80% of them wake up ten years from now and smile about skiing in 2003-2004,
I’ve got at least a double.



How do you feel about the changes in the international race formats over the
past few years?

I think that bringing more speed, excitement and media coverage to our sport
is not only a good thing, but absolutely necessary for the survival of Nordic
skiing as a competitive endeavor.



What changes will you be making to your athletes’ training plan for this
year?

We’ve made three distinct changes as a team this season: we’ve increased
the amount of time that the athletes train in the 70-80% MHR zone, we’ve
included games in our workouts more often, and we’ve added more strength
to the plan for the younger girls.



Do you have a favorite interval or hard workout?
My new favorite is skiathlon relay intervals. It’s a great interval
workout that offers skiers a chance to practice a number of the new formats
in one workout. I organize the team into two person teams, one girl and one
boy per team. Team members alternate racing two intervals of each technique
(CL, FR, CL, FR) head to head against 4-6 other teams over a loop of 800-1000m.
Basically it’s the classic 4x3min at race pace interval session but with
more excitement and a few more things to think about. Gives the skiers an opportunity
to change skis and poles several times (we keep splits for exchange zones if
possible), and gives them some great experience with pack skiing. It is pretty
intense though, so it’s not an every week workout.



Can you give us a single piece of advice for aspiring Junior skiers?
Learn to be independent. Use your coach(es) as a resource to aid your progress
as you experiment and develop your own plans. I think that a self-motivated
skier is the skier who is most likely to stay in it for the long haul.



Any questions we didn't ask, but should have?
Best spot for local color? Stan’s Grocery, Madawaska Lake, Maine. Still
home of the 10 cent cup of coffee.

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