Torin Koos was born in Leavenworth, Washington in 1980 and began skiing with his local Leavenworth Winter Sports Club. Encouraged by his parents and first coach T.J. Owen, Koos knew in second grade that he wanted to be an Olympic athlete. It wasn’t until his early years at the University of Utah, however, that Koos’s ski career took off. “Heading into Utah I was not the young rube of American skiing,” Koos acknowledges.
Supported by his teammates, Koos ascended the ranks of American skiing, winning two national titles, being a part of two Olympic teams, placing 3rd in the World Cup in 2007, clinching a European Cup Win in 2006, and being named to the World Cup Red Group (top 30 world ranking) from fall 2005 to spring 2008.
Koos’s philosophy: “Striving after the Olympic ideal, that of citius, altius, fortius,– swifter, faster, stronger—is to dream out loud the biggest dream there is. To believe one day you can be the undisputed best at a chosen field of play, then test out this assumption over years and years of struggle, of work, of breakthroughs, of bliss, is a pretty invigorating way to wake up every morning.”
Birthdate: July 19, 1980
Hometown: Leavenworth, WA
Current Residence: Bend, Oregon
Ski Club: Leavenworth Winter Sports Club (L.W.S.C.)
Coach: Justin Wadsworth; US Ski Team Staff
Serviceman: Oleg Raglino in Europe. Randy Gibbs domestically.
Status on U.S. Ski Team: World Cup, 7th year
Height: 6′ 2″
Best Results: European Cup Win in 2006, 3rd in World Cup in 2007, Two National Titles, Two Olympic Teams. Part of World Cup Red Group – top 30 world ranking – from fall 2005 to spring 2008.
Industry Sponsors: Rossignol Skis, Boots, Bindings. Rossignol Softgoods. Exel Poles. Toko gloves and wax. Rudy Project Eyewear.
Outside Sponsors: USA Pears ~Headgear Sponsor. BioSports. Best Western Icicle Inn. Many years of mom & pop.
How did you get your start in skiing?
I got my start in the sport with my town’s local sport club, the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club. It didn’t take long before skiing the cat’s meow and I had an interest in racing.
Who has been the most influential person for you, whether as a skier or a person?
The answer to this question begins and ends with my parents. They’ve been nothing but supportive and encouraging in my pursuing sports since day one. I’ve also had a close relationship with my first coach, T.J. Owen. She has an incredible passion for the skiing lifestyle and helping young skiers develop their own passion for gliding on snow fast.
Where is your favorite place to ski?
Wherever I am at the moment. Right now I’m in Davos, Switzerland. There’s plenty of snow covering the valley. The groomers are putting in long hours. It’s getting cold at night. And the sun’s made more than just a cameo appearance. At the end of the day, though, skiing near home’s got to be the best. Steven’s Pass can be epic. I love the race loop at Leavenworth’s Ski Hill. The Methow Valley and its 180 kilometers is enough to keep me entertained.
Where is your favorite place to race?
I’m making the Callahan Valley my go to race site.
Favorite part of the season?
What are your favorite ski conditions?
Whatever I wake up to. If it’s snowing and 34 degrees and its a classic day I know I get to try out my rubbing skis. If its hardpacked powder I know I can kick really hard. And if its the springtime and the freeze-thaw cycle is good, it’s hard to beat a long morning out crust cruising.
What drives you to succeed at the highest possible level?
Striving after the Olympic Ideal, that of ciltius, altius, fortius – swifter, higher, stronger – is to dream out loud the biggest dream there is. To believe one day you can be the undisputed best at a chosen field of play, then test out this assumption over years and years of struggle, of work, of breakthroughs, of bliss, is a pretty invigorating way to wake up every morning.
What are your goals as a skier?
To go to the start line absolutely excited to get out on the course, hammering, hurting myself, and knowing I’ve done everything in my power to make this performance as good as it can be.
Do you have any consistent training partners? Do you prefer training alone or with others?
All things equal, I prefer training with others. Not many people train the way I train though.
What do you enjoy doing besides skiing?
Good conversation. Eating good food. Challenging myself in pursuits, sport or otherwise.
Have you always wanted to be a professional ski racer?
I don’t know about always. Since the second grade at least.
If you weren’t ski racing, how would you be employed?
I don’t know. I believe certain doors will open when the time is right. If I were to look into a crystal ball, I guess I’d see myself working as a journalist, following a beat, complaining about the long, crazy hours and lousy pay but loving most every minute of it.
Do you have any other means of employment to support your ski career?
I do a little coaching with junior high athletes at my alma mater.
How long do you think you will ski professionally?
I love my job. It’s what I’ve most wanted to do since the second grade. So I’m living the dream as you might say. I don’t try to think when this dream might end and another might begin.
How did you rise through the ranks of American skiers? Was there a specific turning point?
The early years at the University of Utah. The team there was the best group of athletes-friends I have ever been associated with. It’s probably no surprise that’s where my career in skiing took off.
You attended Utah, where you were a standout ski racer. How was that experience? Did going to college help you develop as a skier and a person?
Heading into Utah I was not the young rube of American skiing. In fact, my scholarship for the first two years at Utah was for running.
Do you enjoy racing/competing in other sports during the offseason, or did you play other sports as a kid? What are some favorite non-skiing competitions?
Growing up, I did it all. Except skateboarding. Or tennis. Mountain biking, swimming, even a little ski jumping. check, check, check.
How do you pass the time while traveling? Do you have an essential item that you bring with you everywhere?
A good book and a moleskine notebook.
What does your diet consist of? Do you have a favorite pre-race dinner and breakfast? Do you enjoy eating foreign food when you travel?
I try and embrace whatever the local palate throws my way. If I’m in Italy, I’m down with the risotto, the pasta dishes. If I’m in Finland, I’m good with the reindeer and lingonberry concoctions.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
You’d have to ask my sister Kari that one.
How has the transition to the U.S. Ski Team gone?
Every year, I get more and more comfortable living out of a suitcase on the road.
Do you have a message for aspiring young skiers? How does a young skier get to where you are now?
Go back and read the interview I did with the former U.S., now Swiss coach, Trond Nystad for Fasterskier in the spring of 2006. There’s a lot of truth in what Trond had to say. Trond was never one afraid of ruffling a few feathers that perhaps needed ruffling.
Action photo courtesy of Patrick Sinnott