What challenges will world skiing face in the years to come?
I personally think that the climatic change will be the biggest challenge we will have to face in the future and it will have a great impact on the skiing world in the not-so-long term. Unfortunately I do think that my two little children will grow up with quite a different skiing experience than I did simply due to the changing snow situation. But I sincerely hope that we, together, can counter this very worrisome trend, first of all each of us on the very personal level. FIS at its level surely also has a role to play, as do the other sports organizations, such as the IOC, at their levels.
Of course there are other challenges we need to be conscious of, such as the ever increasing availability of leisure activities, both indoor and outdoor, for everyone but especially the young people, and managing the important role television plays for any sport these days.
You came to the US to ski in college. What was the largest difference you saw between your own training growing up and what you encountered here in the US?
Cross-Country Skiing is one of the most important sports people practice in Finland. It has quite a different societal standing there than in the US. In short, it is serious business quite early on. In fact, very few kids play sports other than skiing in high school, if it is not as training for skiing. After high school, that is out of question any way. I would say that the biggest difference between what I had in Finland, at least given the environment I came from and what I encountered in the US was the level of competitiveness and the level of intensity with which one approaches the sport at that age (college age) in these two places. The transition from juniors to seniors (note: there was no U-23 then) is always very hard, but it is even harder in the Nordic countries than in the US where the college system provides quite a different context.
To see the rest of this interview, visit www.middleburyskiing.org .
Andrew Gardner is Head Coach of the Middlebury Nordic Ski Team.