APU assistant coach Erik Flora (31) of Anchorage, Alaska is both coaching and racing these days. Seventh and eight places in the recent Continental Cup races at Soldier Hollow, Utah might make him claim the title â€œFastest coach in North Americaâ€. He is now gearing up for next weeks US Nationals and top-ten is his goal. Who knows, he might do even better than that.
I ran into Erik at Soldier Hollow in the morning on the last day of 2004. He had just finished up a workout. It was 32 Fahrenheit, windy and a mixture of snow and hail was hitting us hard in the face. We managed to chat a little in one of the wax tents:
Erik, what can you tell us about your coaching job?
– I’m coaching for APU (University Pacific Nordic Ski Club of Anchorage, Alaska). The program is run by former National Team skier and coach Jim Galanes and John Quinn-Hurst. Frode Lillefjell and I are on the coaching staff. We have 12 skiers on the team. We have a very strong women’s group that includes among others Kikkan Randall (two second places and one third place in the recent Continental Cup at Soldier Hollow), Erin Quinn-Hurst and Aelin Peterson. We also have a group of young and upcoming male skiers. They should start to ski faster now when they are better used to racing at altitude. I’m hired as a part time coach, but am coaching pretty much full-time since I also run a wax and coaching service.
What about your own training and racing. How much are you training and what is your training philosophy?
– I’m training well all year and usually reach 12 to 20 hours per week. As a coach I also gets a chance to do on-snow skiing in the summer on the Eagle Glacier in Alaska. My training philosophy includes traditional quality distance training with emphasis on speed in all movements. I also have two kids so I need to balance training with that part of my life. My training and racing is a mix of training, coaching, family and skiing for fun.
Are you the fastest coach in the US?
– I felt good about my recent races here at Soldier Hollow, but my coaching colleague Frode Lillefjell might challenge me for the title â€œfastest coachâ€. We often go head-to-head in local Alaskan races and he might jump in a do a few races next week as well. We’ll see.
I wouldn’t totally rule out John Aalberg for that title either. Any other candidates, any fast Canadian coaches?
How are you approaching the upcoming US Nationals and what are you goals for these races?
I went home to Alaska and sea-level right after the 15-kilometer skate race at the continental Cup about 10-days ago (7th place, 1 minute and 15 seconds behind the winner, his younger brother Lars Flora). There I recovered for several days and put in one hard session. I have done two hard sessions since I got back here at Soldier Hollow. I will ski four out of the five races at Nationals. I’m skipping the sprint race. My goal is simply to ski strong and have solid races. I have no result goals but believe that my fitness has increased since Continental Cup and is hoping for some top-ten's.