Caitlin Compton began her ski career as an alpine skier and switched full time to Nordic her junior year of high school. After winning a race at JOs in 1999 and being named to the Junior World Team in 2000, Compton pursued her studies at Northern Michigan University.
Because of her decision to combine academics and training, Compton says: “I had a lot of people who knew I wouldn’t come close to reaching my peak fitness until I was in my late twenties and early thirties…They were right!” In 2007 Compton—along with teammate Laura Valaas—won the Team Skate Spring at US Nationals, and in 2008 she won the 5K Skate at US Nationals. While Compton prefers short skate races, she also hopes to build her endurance and classic technique for future distance races and fulfill her long term goal of qualifying for the 2010 Olympics.
When Compton is not skiing, she enjoys reading, drawing, visiting her family in New York City or California, and encouraging and inspiring others to live active, healthy lives.
Birthdate: November 7, 1980
Hometown: New York City, NY/ Warren, Vermont
Current Residence: Minneapolis, MN
Ski Club: CXC Ski Team
Best Results: 2008 US Nationals 5k Skate 1st, 2007 US Nationals Team Skate Sprint 1st, 37th Biathlon World Championships.
Sponsors: CXC Team, Finn Sisu, Seeley Hills Ski Club, Salomon, Toko, Lake Express, Polar, Rudy Project, Becker Law, Tid Tech Ltd., American Birkebeiner, The Fix-Massage, St. Cloud State Human Performance Lab, Gear West, Ultima, Mastel’s Health Foods, Nathan, Gagnon, Midwest Mountaineering, Slumberland, Bolger Inc., and numerous individuals.
When did you start ski racing, and what were some highlights of your young skiing career?
I started ski racing as an alpine racer and switched to XC full-time my junior year of High School. I won a race at JO’s in 1999 and I was on the Junior World Team in 2000.
Who has been the most influential person for you, whether as a skier or a person?
There are so many! I would not be racing and loving it today without the positive attitudes of the people around me throughout my entire career. I would say that John Kerrigan, Jason Winston, and John Howard were instrumental when I first started racing and encouraged me to pursue the sport beyond high school. Piotr Bednarski was also a great inspiration when I first moved to the Twin Cities. I owe a lot to Piotr’s enthusiasm and dedication to the sport. I also wouldn’t be where I am today without Dave Freeman, Sten Fjeldheim, Bryan Fish, Avho Taiple, and all of the staff of CXC and USBA.
Where is your favorite place to ski, where is your favorite place to race, what is your favorite part of the season, what are your favorite ski conditions?
I will always love skiing at Ole’s or Blueberry Lake back in Warren, VT. The views are incredible and I helped clear the race course, so it was always fun to compete there too. I really like the start of the season because there is so much energy and everyone is excited to start racing again. Skiing in West Yellowstone is also becoming a favorite place of mine to race because it is so beautiful and there is so much excitement about the upcoming year.
What drives you to succeed at the highest possible level, and what are your long-term goals as a skier?
I love being a ski racer and I know I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I think the difficult moments, although challenging at the time, seem to motivate me to work harder and keep pushing towards my goals. Obviously reaching my goals both short and long term are always encouraging along the way. My long term goal is to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
What are your favorite race formats/distances, and do you try to specialize for these events?
My favorite race is the 5K Skate. I really like skating any distance below 30K right now! I have been working on my classic a lot this year so that I can be competitive in more classic events. I am really looking forward to Distance Nationals in Fairbanks where I can test my fitness in the long races.
What are your overall goals for this season?
My first goal is to qualify for the Vancouver World Cups in January. After Vancouver I will try and make the 2009 World Championship Team in Liberec, Czech Republic.
Do you have any consistent training partners? Do you prefer training alone or with others?
I love training with others. I have a great group of 5 women (sometimes 6) on the CXC Team who are always ready to work hard and raise our entire team level. I also have a great group of skiers in the Twin Cities who I train with throughout the year when I home.
What is your favorite on snow workout and favorite dryland workout?
My favorite on snow workout is 2 X (4 X 3min) skate intervals. I really like doing 20 X 20 Sec Sprints in Edina, MN and I love O.D. rollerskis in Afton, MN.
What do you enjoy doing besides skiing?
If I am not skiing I really like to encourage and inspire other people to be active and live healthy lives. As an athlete with In-The-Arena I have been able to work with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Department as well as other local businesses to help create an opportunity for the local inner-city kids to learn about active and healthy lifestyles.
In terms of employment, are you a 100% full-time athlete, or do you have another job besides training/racing? If so, what do you do?
I like to consider myself a full-time athlete but I can’t afford to only train everyday. The CXC Team is the reason I can keep racing. They provide coaching, testing, equipment, training gear, transportation and race support as well as multiple training camps throughout the year. When I am not with CXC I am able to support myself by being a part of In-The-Arena, Private coaching, holding multiple ski clinics, care-taking at my apartment building, and through my personal sponsors.
How long do you think you will ski at the elite level? What do you see yourself doing after you finish your ski career?
I hope to continue racing beyond 2010. I still have a ton of energy and enthusiasm for the sport so I will continue racing as long as I can keep that up. After I finish skiing I am going to go to graduate school.
Do you or did you ever attend college? How did you make that decision?
I graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2004 and going to college was the best choice I have ever made for my ski career. I knew I wanted to continue racing after I graduated high school and college and NMU helped me do both. I had a lot of people who knew I wouldn’t come close to reaching my peak fitness until I was in my late 20’s early 30’s, and they said that going to college would help my training and technique in the long run. They were right!
Do you enjoy racing/competing in other sports during the offseason? Did you play other sports as a kid? What are some of your favorite non-skiing competitions?
I sometimes get the opportunity to jump into a running race or triathlon in the summer and fall. As a kid I was really into Alpine Skiing and road biking. The Sugarbush Triathlon is one of my favorite “non-skiing” competitions even though there is a XC leg at the end of the 4 event race.
What do you do with any spare time at training camps or on race trips?
I enjoy reading and drawing. Recently I have been working on getting a program called “Skiing in the City” up and running. I also hang out with my teammates and the time seems to pass very quickly.
What does your diet consist of? Do you have a favorite pre-race dinner and breakfast?
My favorite pre-race breakfast is oatmeal with berries and a soft boiled egg.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I have a really hard time keeping a training log so I had to get Garrott Kuzzy’s log “Log It.” So far I am doing much better!
How do you spend your weeks off?
I like to visit my family in New York City or California. It’s a great change of pace and scenery.
What is the best race or workout you have ever done?
My best race was the 5K Skate at U.S. Nationals last year. My favorite race was the Skate Team Sprint at the 2007 U.S. Nationals with Laura Valaas.
What race events are in your plan for this season, and which race are you are looking forward to the most?
I will be following the Super Tour for the first part of the season up until the Nor Am races in Whistler, then U.S. Nationals, and then I will have to see what I qualify for.