US top female skier, Rebecca Dussault didn’t ski to her potential last season and lost her national team spot. We asked her about what went wrong, USSA coaches, summer and fall training, altitude training, motivation and goals.
Rebecca, we haven't heard much about you this spring and summer. Are you still training hard and preparing for the 2006 Olympics?
– My preparations for the 2006 Olympics are on track.. I have been spending a much quieter summer at home without as much travel for skiing purposes. I have been able to do some of the other things I normally enjoy in summer, especially family trips. In July, I had a great camps in Alaska and Wisconsin. A lot of the training I have been doing by myself except for a couple faithful friends who join up with me. I just returned from three weeks in Europe with my family where we attended a friend’s wedding in France, hiked, sight-seed and learned more about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati of Turin (my patron for the Olympics) in Italy. Then we went north for World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany with over a million young adults and Pope Benedict XVI. All the while I developed some awesome techniques for urban training.
You were making good progress two seasons ago and showed potential in the Holmenkollen World Cup, but last year looked to be a step in the wrong direction? What caused this to happen and how did you experience the 2005 World Championship?
– Last season was supposed to be another awesome season ramping me up towards the Olympics. I was extremely excited to be part of the U.S. Ski Team and follow the camps and travel schedule like never before. I think that I had periods of very great training, but didn't monitor closely enough how much recovery I would need from camps like New Zealand and San Diego. I knew from the very first race in West Yellowstone that I was very tired. I didn't feel great all season, especially in Europe but also in domestic races. I had made too large of increases in hours trained, intensities, and strength. I learned a lot more than I ever have about what my body can and can't take.
The Championships were a huge bummer for me. That was the point at which I was the sickest. I was on a three week course of antibiotics at that time. I know that I had very lofty goals set for myself and was crushed that I was getting nowhere near them. I have always seen so much success in sports that it was hard for me to have a very tough season. I like to think of it like a race. I always learn far more from the races that I loose. I feel like this past season is a race I finally lost.
You are the top female skier in the country, but not a member of the national team. How do you feel about that and is this affecting your chances of doing well in World Cup racing and the Olympics?
– I believe that things happen for a reason. I know that initially, not being re-named to the National Team was very shocking and disappointing. Now, I have come to terms with it and realized that I am in a very good place. I am so excited to once again be a member of the Subaru Factory Team. My most successful season on record was while I was on the SFT. I know that even better things are yet to come with their support. I don't think that being off the National Team will affect how I perform anywhere for any reason.
At the time USSA decided that your results were not worthy of a national team spot you were utilizing the ski team coaching staff as your coaches. How did that affect this relationship and are you still being coached/getting advice from the national team coaches?
– I still receive training suggestions and help from a very generous Pete Vordenberg who is backed by a super sports science staff. I have largely gone back to my tried and tested way of training which is to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, and where I want to do it. I don't ever keep a training plan, I just listen to my body and perform the appropriate training.
You live in the mountains of Colorado. Which town and what altitude do you live and train in? Many of our readers have little experience with altitude training. Can you explain how you experience your training and if you are spending time at other altitudes to prepare for racing below 1800 meter?
– I have spent the last 20 years of my life in Gunnison, Colorado which is at 7,703 ft. in elevation. I have trained and raced in the Gunnison Valley since I was 9, but more seriously since age 15. Most of my training on snow is done in the Crested Butte area and is around 9,000-10,000 ft.
The effects I notice from training at these altitudes are that I train less than I would at a much lower elevation and my recovery time is a lot longer. I am really conscious of training my speed of motion because it is typical that at high altitude athletes movements can become slow and more labored. I have made it a priority to go down in elevation for a couple of weeks this summer. There I am able to get in large blocks of training and still feel very energetic.
What is a typical training week for you at this time of year?
– I think your asking for my secret recipe here Typically I am training about 9 sessions a week ranging from 1 hour to 3 hours, 1-2 sessions of distance with speeds, 1-2 timed interval sessions and 1 session of natural intervals. I am in the gym about 2-3 times a week to weight lift. One thing that I am doing differently is making Pilates part of my strength training. This has had a positive effect. I can't resist the bike, so I am on it at least once a week. I have also been doing some long crazy workouts at different intensities like biking 70 miles on single track in a day, biking and then hiking with packs to remote lakes for over 7 hours, and filling in as the woman teammate for New Castle Ltd./ Crested Butte Adventure Racing Team. I must add that 14,000 foot peaks are a whole lot harder with a three year old in your pack!
What's exciting about training for cross country skiing and what drives you and motivates you?
– I have a very healthy lifestyle and a healthy, mostly injury free body. I get to do all kinds of sports to train for my favorite one. I am motivated by my passion for competition, hard work, success, meeting goals, making friends, seeing the world, sharing my faith within sport, passing on to my child what I love, and sharing with my husband our love for the outdoors. I think I like what I am doing because it is so hard and I have a strand of “Super Mom” somewhere in my genetic make-up.
Are you a full time skier? How do you support your skiing?
– If doing things for my ski career 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year qualifies me than I guess the answer is yes. I have to pay self employment taxes on my earnings, so I guess it really is my job too.
I am blessed to have a highly motivated husband who doubles as my agent, who takes care of Tabor while I am training, who is becoming my personal photographer, and has a full-time/flexible job, etc
We have found some very generous people who believe in what we are about and want a piece of my marketability. I think that I have a lot to offer and I receive so much from so many people. I also in large part am able to do it because I win races. God Bless those of you who never make a dime and are at every one of the races that I'm at. You are hard core!
What's your goal for the upcoming season and are you planning on skiing past the 2006 season?
– My goal is to have a fit body, ski technically well in every race and have a constructive mindset, one that is able to utilize all of the tools and fitness I have worked so hard to put into place for this season. I have to be able to access all my physical, emotional, and spiritual fitness and be ready to take on the world at the Olympic Games.
You're going to need a direct line to heaven to get an answer on that! I know that I will at least be taking a break to have our next baby and write a new chapter in life. Perhaps when the Olympics come to Canada I will flip back a couple pages in the Book of My Life and re-live my life as ski racer/mother.
Thanks to all of you who support me and believe in me. Each of you mean something different to me and I am grateful.
Photo: courtesy of Sharbel Dussault
Photo: courtesy of Sharbel Dussault