InterviewsNewsSummer XC Champ Finds Ideal Training Chemistry

FasterSkierSeptember 9, 2004

After many years of hard training and racing, things are finally coming together for Owen Hanley–recent winner of the second annual Summer Cross-Country Ski Championships at Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Last winter, Hanley had some encouraging top-5 results on the Nor/Am SuperTour circuit. This year, he says, the focus is on consistency, to achieve the best possible overall ranking: “That’s what it comes down to, if you want to go anywhere with it.”

Owen Hanley finishes the run portion of the Summer Cross-Country Ski Championships

Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Hanley has been living in St. Paul for the past couple years—a situation that has worked well for him. For one thing, he is able to train frequently with Chad Giese, another elite racer from the same area. It also helps to live in a region teeming with cross-country enthusiasts. From Hanley’s house there are eight ski areas within a 25-minute drive, and in this unique rural-metropolitan setting he is able to combine a full-on training and racing schedule with his job involving stem-cell research at the University of Minnesota. Between this work and support from Rossignol, Hanley is able to pay the bills while making good strides towards the top of the points list. The biggest payoff, however, comes from the wisdom and experience accumulated over two decades of competition.

Hanley attributes part of his success to a different mental approach to racing. “I was a swimmer since the age of five, so I’ve been competing for a long time. Before, I thought that competition was about getting mean. It’s different for everybody, but I think in a sport like skiing, being more relaxed can often-times translate to being faster.” The lesson was brought home while racing in Europe in 2001-2002. “The year in Europe was great, because you go into countries where you don’t understand the language—you don’t know exactly when you’re starting, where to go, what to do…you just have to be laid back about it or you get completely frazzled. I realized there are a lot of things that don’t have to go perfect in order to race well, and to have fun doing it. And I think that really helped me.”

Whatever happens from here on out, Owen Hanley has already succeeded in at least one sense: balancing the complex life-equation as an elite cross-country ski racer in America, moving forward with two careers at once. With an accomplishment like that to his credit, it’s hard to doubt that he’ll be faster than ever this winter.

For photos, results, and complete information on the Summer Cross-Country Ski Championships, go to:

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