What's the one thing you are really nagging the skiers on right now?
Right now, I’m really focusing on technique while also working strength. We’re doing a lot of double-poling, no-poles skiing and pull-ups. We also do a fair amount of speed and coordination work. I can’t absolutely say that doing agility drills and speed-work will make my skiers faster, but I can hope that when they play pick-up ultimate in college they won’t embarrass themselves.
Your junior skiers comment on your enthusiasm and the energy you bring to the team every day. It's obviously contagious, as some of your junior skiers had incredible results this past winter. What fuels this?
To be honest, probably once a week I look at my watch and think, â€œHmm, I could be hitting up happy hour instead of going running with these kids â€ But once I get to practice, I’m stoked to be there. I’d say that in the last five years, I’ve only gone through an entire practice all fussy and cranky once or twice, and that was when I was sick. I really love skiing; I was lucky to have coaches like John Schauer in high school, and Nikolai later on, who instilled the notion that training and skiing is awesome. It helps a ton that I’ve got cool skiers who show up every day ready to train. Also, they invariably have something interesting and/or ridiculous to talk about, so that’s highly entertaining.
Who are your favorite skiers?
Growing up, I would have said Harri Kirvesniemi, Mika MyllylÃ¤ or Erling Jevne — Jevne especially, since he always looked like he was working so hard. Whenever I was suffering out on course, drooling and cross-eyed, I hoped that I at least looked as cool as him.
But now, I’ve got to be all jingoist and go with Newell, Koos, Freeman and Randall. I’ve been impressed with the Continental Cup crew; they seem to be getting work done and generally seem like good people. Except maybe Matt Gelso; he’s fast, but maybe the â€œgood peopleâ€ tag doesn’t fit for him.
What do you think is the biggest hurdle in developing skiers?
This is one of my biggest beefs, and I’ll start out by challenging the axiom that you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I think that there are a lot of programs in this country that are coached by volunteers (or, essentially volunteers — poorly paid, seasonally-employed coaches). While some of them are getting work done, there are too many places in this country where coaches aren’t. It’s tough to make a commitment to running eight to 12 practices a week when you aren’t fairly compensated, and all too often it seems training programs are done half-assed as a result. It’s cool that you like skiing and like to train, and it’s great you’re doing something with the kids, but if you can’t go all in and do it right maybe you should look for someone who is willing and able to.
I’ll pick on Midwest because I used to live in Minnesota: It would seem to me that a region where they have races with like 1000 junior racers should dominate at Junior Nationals, but it’s not happening. With all those kids, I don’t think Minnesota and Wisconsin lack talent, so what’s going wrong? My impression is that the majority of those kids get coaching for three months and then just freestyle the rest of the year. That’s ridiculous. Some kids find good coaching year-round — Dino, wassup! — but they’re the exception. It seems like Rocky Mountain, Alaska, New England, Far West, Intermountain and Pacific Northwest are a lot more proactive in making sure that the majority of their skiers get good training year-round. Flame on.
If you weren’t a ski coach, what kind of job would you like to have?
This is an excellent question. Kudos to the interviewer.
I’d like a job that pays extremely well but requires basically no work — maybe like Svengali to someone or reality TV show host. I’m guessing that whoever got The Spice Girls together made fat bank, and Simon Cowell? I’m into finances like that, big time. If those aren’t an option, I’d be a fine roadie, since it’s essentially the same job as coaching — drive vans a lot, stay up late and wrangle semi-mature people around. I’d also be interested in marrying into money.