Ben was one of the top US skiers for much of the 1990's. He is a two-time Olympian and is currently the Cross-Country Director for the Mount Bachelor Ski Education Foundation in Bend, Oregon.
Single or married: Married, Lisa
Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN
Current town of residence: Bend, OR
Full-time or part-time coach: Full Time- Nordic Director, Mt. Bachelor Ski Education
On salary/paid or volunteer coach: Salary
Athletes or Team working with (or has worked with): Oversee Youth, Junior and
Master Programs. Primarily involved with MBSEF Junior Team
Favorite movies: Dazed and Confused. I probably would have been Mathew McConaughey's
character 'Woodersen' had I not found Nordic skiing. You know: hangin' around,
driving a sweet GTO, working for the city, living for the weekend.
Favorite food: Mt. Dew
Favorite musical artist: Radiohead- and no, it's not emo!
Favorite book or TV show: Sometimes a Great Notion, Keasey
Did you take a vacation after this past race season ended?
I did go on vacation, even though I only did one ski race. I went to Kauai
for two weeks of surfing.
What is your (or your athletes) favorite place to ski?
My favorite place to ski was Australia (reluctantly I wasn't into surfing when
I was training for the Olympics). I think the kids that I coach prefer to ski
on the Mt. Bachelor trails- we have an amazing terrain park. You can go big.
Favorite place to race?
Falun, Sweden. Not a very glamorous destination, but a great venue for hefty
skiers. The Great Nordeen Race, Bend, OR. 42km skate race with 2600' vertical
loss. In my opinion, the fastest ski marathon in the country. January 24, 2004.
Favorite place to train (skiing or dryland)?
Fairbanks dry land loop,
Bend, OR, Brokentop Crust, Three Sisters Wilderness, Bend, OR
Why do you enjoy being a ski coach?
I get to drive a Ford Econoline van down winding roads in inclement weather.
What part of being a ski coach don't you enjoy?
Stressing about the
possibility that the van might slide off the road.
If you weren't a ski coach, what would you rather be doing?
the one thing that seems impossible- getting up on an Oregon beach break.
What are the five main philosophies you coach by?
Education- I try to teach kids to be competent in understanding basic physiology.
Technique- helping kids understand that the basic body position is similar for
skating and classic.
Simplicity- this sport is mostly about repetition, the beauty of perfecting
Freedom- showing kids that the choices they make will build a foundation that
will carry them through life.
Toughness- there is a time to hunt and time to sleep. The reward is in knowing
when to do them.
What do you spend most time with when you are on the road at races or training
Looking after the team: driving, cooking, cleaning, waxing, coaches
meetings, race psychology, packing up, driving.
What were your best or most memorable races (for your athletes) – last season
Mc Call, ID- Trent Lowe's 7th in the J1 skate race. 2003 Junior Olympics, Fairbanks,
AK- Katey Kelley's relay performance in the girls OJ relay, and Collin Rymer's
16th place finish in the J2 boys skate race.
How do you deal with bad races?
Try not to have any. There is something good in every race. With the help of
the team, we work on forgetting about it as soon as possible. A discussion about
the ways of improving may ensue over subsequent quality sessions prior to the
next major race.
What are your coaching goals for the upcoming season?
A relay medal
at the Junior Nationals for the J1 boys and OJ boys would be nice.
How do you feel about the changes in the international race formats over
the past few years?
It's hard to come to terms with personally. I think that the FIS must use NASCAR
as their template. Who's your driver? In the meantime, I will do my best to
prepare the team's outstanding skiers for a future of ski swapping and rabbit
chasing. The rest of us will spend a beautiful day cruising around myriad trails
at Mt. Bachelor enjoying the solitude, marveling the wonder of self-propulsion.
What changes will you be making to your athletes' training plan for this
Send them over to Eugene for a fall of track intervals with the UO middle distance
crew. Seriously though, I enjoyed the notes from the FIS Sprint seminar, and
a recent interview with Thomas Alsgaard in Faster Skier. I think all junior
coaches are at a cross roads regarding this question. As with most junior programs,
resources are thin, especially with manpower. The question remains; do you split
the team up according to sprinting/mass starting ability? Or do you try to continue
to give the junior skier as many tools as possible and let them decide which
path to take when they are old enough to decide for themselves (gone from the
program)? I have changed one philosophy recently- we tend to do more strength
and specific exercises than when I first started coaching juniors. I applaud
Chris Grover and Miles Minson for spearheading this on a National level some
Do you have a favorite interval or hard workout? In the fall I like level
3 no-pole low skates. During the winter, nothing holds a torch to the good ole'
Can you give us a single piece of advice for aspiring Junior skiers?
to love the movement. No one can ever take technical perfection away from you.
Only very few skiers will ever be at the highest level, so the motivation at
the primary levels needs to be intrinsically driven. Technical perfection can
be as enlightening as receiving first place in a race- especially where you
find yourself most often; out in the woods dreaming as though you are flying.
Any questions we didn't ask, but should have?
Umm, Maybe: How do you
feel about coach's education at a national level? I suppose you could ask this
in you next interview with some unsuspecting coach.