A few days after I returned from New Zealand in August, I received a cryptic email from the US Ski Team boys who were still training down under:
â€œWhat up? Skiing is still great. We’re starting to get a little bit bored, though. We heard a rumor that Chambo got married. Any information you can supply would be greatly appreciated.â€
David Chamberlain has quietly become one of the best skiers in the US. After a strong career at Bates College, Chamberlain moved on to the Factory Team while working part time at Gould Academy as a teacher and coach. He left the Factory Team to focus his efforts on shorter distances and elite international competition. Now 29 and skiing for Atomic, Alpina and Swix, He has successfully built a system of support and individualized training that has worked well for him. Dave was a member of the 2001, 2003 and 2005 US World Championships teams and also winner of the SuperTour overall in 2004.
We don’t often get juicy rumors in the XC ski world as we are for the most part a well-behaved bunch. As soon as I read the email from New Zealand, I got on the phone and dialed Dave Chamberlain to get confirmation. After leaving a message for Dave, I sent him an email and followed up with a call to Eli Brown, Nordic Race Service Director for Fischer. Eli has an uncannily omniscient knowledge of everything that happens in the Nordic universe and he casually confirmed the nuptials: David Chamberlain and BethAnn Ellingson were married on August 15, 2005.
Undeterred by Eli’s nonchalance, I pursued the matter further with Dave via email. This had already become an event worthy of international intrigue and an interview would certainly spice up the summer fare on Fasterskier.com. Unfortunately, Dave was training on top of Stelvio Pass in Italy for two weeks and I could never get through to his hotel.
Dave and I finally connected this week after he settled back in to life back in the US. We discussed the wedding, training, and life over the phone.
DC: I am one happy dude
NS: How did you and BethAnn meet?
DC: We met in Yellowstone at the fall camp [November, 2004]. We quickly realized that we wanted to be together and so we made it work to see each other throughout the winter. We spent a few days together in Munich as I was traveling on to do the final World Cups in Lahti and she was on her way to do some of the biathlon Europa Cup. When the winter ended, we spent some time together and then lived together in Fort Kent [Maine] for most of the summer.
NS: When did marriage come into the picture?
DC: As time went on this summer, we became certain that we wanted to be together. We had been discussing the idea a little and then we decided to elope two days before I left for Italy.
NS: So what happens after you decide to get married?
DC: Well, we decided Sunday evening, and we didn’t really have a plan or have any idea what to do. I thought about calling you [Schultz is a Reverend] to see if you could help, but doing it over the phone did not feel right. We looked on-line and learned that all we needed was someone to perform the wedding and complete the paperwork.
NS: Tell me about the ceremony.
DC: We woke up the next morning, went to the Bethel town offices, bought a marriage license, and met with a notary public. She said that she â€œdidn’t really do weddings, but I guess I could do that.â€ She didn’t know how much to charge, so after thinking about it for a while, she said $50. I gave her $100 and we planned to meet at the Town Commons at 11AM.
The marriage license told us we needed witnesses, so we walked out of the offices thinking about who we could find. Just then a friend of mine walked by. He was one of my first friends that I made when I came to Gould and he agreed to serve as our witness.
We went a few blocks down to a local clothing shop and got a dress for BethAnn. I bought a tie across the street. We got dressed up and walked up to the Bethel Commons to get married under the gazebo.
We weren’t going to bring a camera, but a friend of mine who is the publicity director for Gould was sitting out on the front lawn when we walked by. He asked what was going on, since we were all dressed up. We didn’t answer and just kept walking with big smiles on our faces, so he figured something was up, grabbed his camera, and followed us.
We did the ceremony with the Notary Public, my friend, his wife and kids, and my friend with the camera shooting a few photos.
NS: Sounds perfect.
DC: It turned out just the way we wanted it. It wasn’t about anybody else but us.
NS: How did everyone react to the big news?
DC: Our families surprised us. We did the ceremony and then we sat down in the park and started calling people. We called my sister-in-law first because we knew she would be the most excited and her enthusiasm would help spread the word. She was there when we told my brother about it and they were ecstatic. Her parents were very excited to hear the news and my parents were too.
NS: What are your plans now?
DC: We’ll stay together here at my place at Gould as much as possible until we leave at the end of September to train in Park City. She has a training camp out there at the same time I will be there, so we will drive to Minnesota to visit her family on the way out. After Park City, we will go up to Alaska where I will race the SuperTour and she will train. Then we both head to West Yellowstone.
After that it will be touch and go getting ready for Olympic trials. BethAnn is focused on making the Olympic Team in Biathlon and she will be doing whatever it takes to get there, while I’m doing the same for cross-country. Neither one of us knows exactly what we’ll do next year, but we’ll work something out. We’re not too concerned about that at the moment.
NS: Are there any honeymoon plans?
DC: Next spring or summer. We don’t really know what we’ll do yet, but definitely something.
NS: Fairbanks in November?
DC: Honeymoon is a state of mind, so maybe Fairbanks could work.
NS: Are there any kids in the plans?
DC: There will be somewhere along the line, but definitely not at the moment. Right now I’m very happy. Things couldn’t be better.
NS: Are you working now, or just training?
DC: I’ve been working on and off at Gould Academy. I will be heading out to Park City Oct 7-28, and I’ll be 100% training and racing from that point on.
NS: What are your goals for this year?
DC: First is making the Olympic Team. The 15km Classic and Duathlon are my focus. I really want to make the relay team as well.
NS: What were you doing in Italy?
DC: I just got back from spending three weeks at Stelvio Pass where I focused on lots of volume on snow with some threshold sessions. And missing my wife .!
NS: How did it go?
DC: I had great weather and tons of snow. The skiing was really good — they had a 4km loop. The Norwegian Biathlon team was there at the same time and their XC team came up for the last week I was there, so it was cool to be training around them.
I got lucky and hooked up with a physiologist who was there with the biathlon team who did a lot of work with me on lactates. I just walked around for the first three days. Having the lactates available was really helpful because I saw that the values were really high, even though I was hardly moving, and it was nice to have someone keep me in check.
I stayed up at the top of the pass for 2 weeks, then spent a week living down lower and skiing up high. Over the last few weeks I was able to really push hard during intensity sessions down low and also up high on the snow.
NS: You have been in New Zealand for a few years prior to this. What made you choose the Italian trip over other destinations?
DC: Altitude was the biggest thing. I’ve been getting a lot of advice from Jon Arne Enevoldsen and he recommended Stelvio Pass. The hotel up there is at 2800m and you ski at 3200m.
NS: How did you feel when you returned to sea level?
DC: I have felt really good back here. The plan for the next couple of weeks is to move towards race shape. I will start with a couple of weeks of level 4/5 sessions to get going again.
NS: What is your relationship with Jon Arne?
DC: I’ve talked to him quite a lot over the last few years and he has been around Nationals and other races. We just started talking training a few times and his ideas were very similar to what I’ve found works for me. He believes in a lot of low threshold work moving into race pace closer to the season. He also has some connections to the Norwegian system and their ideas.
I still work pretty closely with Dick Taylor here at Gould, so it has been a collective thing.
NS: So how does it work with both of them? Are they more like mentors?
DC: Neither coach is too demanding of me. Jon Arne and Dick give me advice. I decide day-to-day training and they are involved, but I don’t need a coach to get out with me every day. I have been doing this long enough that I know what to do, how to keep myself healthy and prepare for the races. They put out the info, I gather it up and then coordinate how it will best work for me.
I spent a month up in Maine this summer working with James Upham and his biathlon group. That was a great experience as well and I feel like I got some great training with them.
NS: How has your training changed?
DC: The intervals are the focus now. When I’m writing out weeks and months, the intervals are written in first, then the distance workouts are used mostly for recovery and I fit in strength where possible. In the past, I have not kept very good track of lactates. With more diligence this year, the thing I’ve found is that I was going too hard in intervals. Bringing back the lactates just a bit for threshold intervals allowed me to do up to 45 to 60 minutes of work each session and the quality is higher. Weeks where we are doing more level 4-5 work I’m able to control the pace more. This actually allows me to do more intensity than in the past.
NS: You have always been good about finding the situation that works for you. How do you feel about the changes you’ve made with coaching and training?
DC: I feel more confident about the things I’m doing more this year than ever before. It seems to be paying off.
NS: Thanks Dave. Good luck with your training and congratulations on the marriage!
DC: Thanks! I am very happy.