Editor's Note: Just a few years ago, it looked as if US skiers were gaining major ground in international competition. Among the signs of progress were 5th place finish in the 2002 Olympic relay and top five finishes by Kris Freeman and Carl Swenson at the 2003 World Championships. The future looked very bright.
This year, however, the results took a step back. US elite skiers were not close to winning World Cup races, and our best juniors had a tough time breaking top 30 at Junior Worlds.
Was this season just a bump in the road to success, or was it a return to reality?
Many of our readers have asked us to assess the current situation. What is the current state of the US Ski Team? What problems does US Skiing face? Are changes needed? Fasterskier.com is inviting coaches and skiers to an open discussion on this subject. US Ski Team head coach Trond Nystad and Nordic program director Luke Bodensteiner have agreed to lend their insight and opinions to this discussion. We have also asked several veteran coaches for their input and are also asking our readers, both coaches and skiers for comments. We have a constructive discussion in mind. Criticism is fine, as long as it also includes ideas for improvement. This is a chance for everyone involved in US Skiing to better understand the situation, create ideas and improve for the future.
This article is meant to spur the discussion. In the next few days we will post a response to this article from the US Ski Team (Trond and Luke). After that, we will solicit opinions and ideas from our readers, which we will compile and publish. The Ski Team coaches will then have the chance to respond to our readers comments. FasterSkier will then publish a 'final thoughts' article to wrap up the discussion.
The top individual men’s US result at the World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany was a 12th place (sprint), the best women’s result was 24th (10-k skate), the men’s relay team was 11th in the men’s 4 x 10-k relay and the women’s team was pulled of the course in the 4 x 5-kilometer relay. Twenty-fifth was the top individual US result at Junior World Championships for both men and women (10-k pursuit for women and men’s sprint). The women’s relay team at Junior Worlds was 11th (out of 13) and the men’s team 18 (out of 18).
The top nation at both the World Championships and Junior World Championships was Norway with 6 gold, 3 silver and 5 bronze at Worlds, and 6 of 8 gold’s at junior Worlds plus 18 more top ten results.