Pete Vordenberg has done a great job in a number of Fasterskier.com articles this past season explaining the story behind the results for the athletes and coaches on the US Ski Team. Reading his descriptions have given our readers a whole new understanding for what it really means of sacrifices and hard work to be an athlete or coach striving for World Cup excellence or Olympic glory. There is a whole new understanding for the team’s training theory and what it really means to work out — twice a day, travel and race day in and day out without brakes.
To follow up on Pete’s articles I contacted US Head Cross Country Coach Trond Nystad and asked if he was willing to discuss some of the â€œharder to answer questionsâ€ regarding this years results and to fill us in on realistic expectation for the upcoming two years.
Trond looked at this as good idea and a way to clear up some issues that might be hard to understand both for the general public and for those who follow cross country closely.
His comment was: â€œIt’s nice to get some tough questions now and then — let’s get it onâ€.
Here is the interview:
Trond, the next World Championship is coming up next season and the Olympic Games in Turin, Italy are less than two years away. The US Ski and Snowboard Team has stated that their goal is to be “best in the World” by 2006. What can the US cross country skiers realistically contribute toward this?
â€As an organization the USSA has stated that the goal is to be the best in the world. The cross country team will be part of this success by putting people on the podium. Both Carl Swenson and Kris Freeman have been very close to the podium in the last World Championships and in World Cup races. Our goal for the 2005 World Championships is to win one medal. For the 2006 Olympics our goal is to win two medalsâ€.
While we realize both Carl and Kris occasionally are only seconds from the podium, we also feel that the men's regular distance racing group behind them might not have taken “the next step up” as hoped for this year?
â€Unfortunately we have not been successful with all athletes on the team. Two out of the six national team members did not score world cup points and this must improve.
Andrew Johnson, Wendy Wagner and Justin Freeman all had sickness issues that set them back significantly. We have carefully evaluated the last four years of training and preparation for all these athletes and come up with solutions that will enable them to become internationally competitive athletes. There is no doubt that when the athletes stay healthy they will all be internationally competitive athletes and score world cup pointsâ€.
What about the sprinters progress and chances?
â€œWe have made some major breakthroughs in sprint results this year. Both Torin Koos and Andrew Newell have shown that they can qualify and be competitive in a World Cup sprint. We also have talented athletes like Kikkan Randall, Chris Cook, Leif Zimmerman, Zach Simmons and Lindsey Williams who also have done well internationally. They are all very young athletes that have a lot of potential in the near and distant future. We have carefully evaluated our sprint program and have decided that we need to focus on some specific areas. These are: Gain leg and upper body strength; focus on quick application of power and completing all movements; build in periods of heavy VO2 Max trainingâ€.
Wendy Wagner in good company
There were a few solid US performances at Junior Worlds and at the U-23 World's but the US highlights were lacking?
â€Lindsey Williams and Lindsey Weier had great performances at Junior Worlds, but it definitely would have been better if we could have had more great races. It is not an easy task for a young American skier to go over to Europe, spend a week in a foreign country, and then be expected to race well. Some people can do it, but not very many. At U-23 we had solid races from Andy Newell and from Kikkan Randall. Newell had a good chance to get a podium in the sprint, but a fall prevented his chances there. The better work local clubs, high schools and universities do the more of a chance we have to do well at both these races. In order to get better results at these races, each organization working with young athletes need to identify good athletes, establish a year round program and teach the athletes good training theory and technique. In the USA we have too few programs that do a good job with young skiersâ€.
U-23 Worlds with home court advantage should have produced better results?
â€Yes it should have lead to better results. Some of the better women chose Junior Worlds instead of U-23, so that was one factorâ€.
Are there currently any young skiers – non national team skiers that seem ready to step it up?
â€œOn the men's side Lars Flora and David Chamberlain comes to mind right away. On the women’s side the difference between the national team members and the rest is a little larger, but a woman like Lindsey Williams can definitely be good. We also have seen great performances in the past from Aelin Peterson and Erin Whittmer and look forward to seeing what they can do the next seasonâ€.