Editors note: This is a weekly column highlighting our ski coaches from around the country including elite coaches, college coaches, high school coaches, volunteer coaches, and learn-to-ski coaches. This is an effort to sample a diverse group of coaches and recognize the people who are the backbone of today’s skiers. If you would like to nominate a coach for an interview, please email firstname.lastname@example.org . Please give coaches name, , email, phone, and a small paragraph describing the nominee. The more diverse, the better.
Fredrick Landstedt is the Head Ski Coach for the University of New Mexico Lobos. Originally from Sweden, he came to the US years ago to ski for UNM, and never left! Fredrik shares some of his thoughts, ideas, and stories with Rob Whitney, which is being passed along to the readers of Fasterskier.com.
UMN ski team, 2004 NCAA champions
4. Your native country is Sweden, and you grew up racing there. What's the main difference you observe between US and Swedish skiers?
Distance! This country is too big! I have seen young skiers in this country as fast and as technically developed as I ever saw in Sweden. For example, a racer skis and wins every race in his home state easily and finally gets out to ski at JO's and loses for the first time. Many skiers simply quit. The young skiers do not have the chance to race against the best every weekend as it is in big parts of Norway and Sweden. It is simply too expensive to keep skiing at a high level and to try to go to big races more than once in a season. On top of this, US nordic skiing does not have the tradition (like in Sweden/Norway) and there is no money in skiing. Why would a parent encourage their kid to stick with nordic skiing if this kid was also the top bike racer or baseball player in his state? In Sweden and Norway, skiing is one of the main sports.
Us coaches can make the biggest difference if we can identify talent early and encourage as many kids as possible to stick with our sport. Have fun, keep them interested, and keep them skiing and good things will happen.
5. Fredrik, you are a wax wizard… everyone knows that. But, even the best totally screw it up sometimes. What is your most horrific waxing experience (or one you'd like to forget about)?
Thanks, most of the time, we have very good skis. I have been thinking about this questions for 2 days and I can not remember any time that I totally screwed up the wax as a coach. There have been times that an individual skier have said they had “no kick” but in the same race with the same wax other skiers had “great skis”. My philosophy with waxing is “make it simple”. I do some testing of wax, but most of the time, the wax that I believe will work best based on snow condition, temperature, humidity, course profile, will work. For me as a coach, the biggest challenge is to figure out exactly how to wax each individuals ski based on the stiffness of the ski, length of the wax pocket, skiers technique etc. I have screwed up once in a while waxing my own skis. I remember a race back in Sweden when we had to ski over a mountain pass and finish on the other side. It was warm and I put thick red klister on my skis. When we got to the top it was dry, cold, windblown snow and no tracks. I spent some quality time scraping my skis against each other and running with 2 inches of snow stuck under my skis. Nowadays, when I occasionally race, if I do not have faster skis and better kick than everyone else, I consider my skis crappy!
6. You've technically been retired from racing for 10-15 years, but you still occasionally jump into a classic race and beat most of the college racers. Any comments? 🙂
I officially retired after the 1994 season and did not race in any races for many years. The last few years I have entered some races sporadically. My athletes always ask me if I am going to race. I tell them “If I feel great and it is horrible waxing conditions, I start”. I mainly do it so that I can remember how hard racing is, and I like pushing my body. I believe that the main reason that I can do okay in some races, and why the top racers are around 30, is because skiing is all mental. When you are older, you do not think about how you are feeling or if your splits are bad or if you are having bad skis. You just go as hard as you can all the time. After the race you say “I had a great race, I skied as hard and as fast as I could today”. There is nothing more you can do but when you are young, you think too much. The mental part of cross-country ski racing is huge.
7. Why should a young talented American Nordic skier want to ski for New Mexico?
I always hear “Western colleges do not want Americans, they only recruit foreigners”! I want to make clear that this perception is totally wrong. The problem is that skiers are told this and these skiers do not contact all the colleges. I would love to have a team full of young talented Americans and there are lots of opportunities for a U.S skier to become a member of a competitive college ski team. I realize that the competition for athletic scholarships is very tough and that only the very top U.S juniors would probably receive one. However, there are other scholarships available and we have currently 2 U.S nordic skiers that came to the team as walk-ons and have since earned athletic scholarships by skiing fast. I want to encourage all the young skiers out there to contact as many college coaches as you can. You might be surprised at the opportunities available.