Zach Violett is a native of Brownsville, CA and began ski racing at eleven in the Echo to Kirkwood backcountry race. Violett credits Jeff Schloss and Glenn Jobe for his success as a junior, Torgeir Skrede for coaching in Norway, and Trond Flagstad for his collegiate career at UAA.
Although Violett does not specialize in any event, he enjoys 10K and 20K mass start classic races, and his favorite workout is bounding intervals during the dryland season and long classic skis on snow. Violett’s favorite part of the year, however, is when he can put away his Nordic equipment in the spring and bring out his Telemark skis.
In addition, when Violett is not ski training, he enjoys “just about any adventure,” becoming more intrigued “as the chances of getting lost increase.” This spring Violett plans to travel to the North Pole.
Birthdate: November 7, 1982
Hometown: Brownsville, CA
Current Residence: Bend, OR
Ski Club: XC-Oregon
Best Results: 2006 National Champ
Sponsors: Fischer / Craft
When did you start ski racing, and what were some highlights of your young skiing career?
I started ski racing at age 11 in the Echo to Kirkwood back-country race. That was always my favorite race when I was young. I was top 3 every year that I raced it even though I was one of the youngest competitors in the Jr division (under 20). I actually never had that great of results when I was a junior. I rarely placed top 10 at junior nationals. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I had a breakthrough in skiing.
Who has been the most influential person for you, whether as a skier or a person?
The list of coachs that have had a big influence on me is long, but I would be happy to name a few.
Jeff Schloss and Glenn Jobe were excellent coaches when I was a Junior and still very important to me
Torgeir Skrede showed me what skiing really was when I lived in Norway
Trond Flaggstad at UAA really made me shine as an athlete and person. He is a great coach and friend!
JD here is Bend is great. He has helped me learn more of a balance in life.
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?
My favorite place to ski is tied between Ramsau, Austria and the mountains aroud Geillo, Norway. Both are amazing places with hundreds of klometers of skiing. Domestically, I love sking anywhere new. I really enjoy exploring new trails and not knowing what is around the next corner. As for favorite part of the season, I would have to say spring, when I can put my nordic stuff away and break out the Telemark Skis. Is that bad to say…? I hope not, because I love it. Lastly, I am from California, so naturally my favorite condition is SUNNY!
What drives you to succeed at the highest possible level, and what are your long-term goals as a skier?
I don’t like loosing, so I try darn hard not too. My long time goals as a skier are to enjoy it. I want to look back on my skiing carreer and be able to say that I would go back and do it all over again without any regrets. Result wise I would like to make the 2010 Olympics.
What are your favorite race formats/distances, and do you try to specialize for these events?
My favorite race is definitely 10-20km classic individual starts. Classic racing at any distance is really my favorite. I wouldn’t say that I really try to specialize in the events. I don’t try to put in more hours in one technique, but it likely happens naturally. I love classic skiing and if I have a choice I would rather do that than skat, that seems to show in my results.
What are your overall goals for this season?
Qualify for the World Cups in Canada this year. From there I hope to qualify for World Champs. I also want to be sure to have fun this season!
Do you have any consistent training partners? Do you prefer training alone or with others?
I definitely prefer training with other people. Though it does get hard to find good training partners with a similar schedule. When I get the chance you can find me training with my XC-Oregon teammates Marshall Greene, Evelyn Dong, Brayton Osgood, Paul Clark, and the rest of the crew…
What is your favorite on snow workout and favorite dryland workout?
Bounding intervals are probably my favorite workout all year. There is something great about the feeling. I like going hard and bounding up a steep hill really allows for a great, hard workout. On snow, I love going for long classic skis. Especially if there are narrow classic only tracks.
What do you enjoy doing besides skiing?
Adventures!!! Just about any adventure and I can be talked into it. I get more and more interested as the chances of getting lost increase. It can be any activity I just want it to be different. That is probably why I am headed to the North Pole this spring. It is something different that will really push me to my limits.
Of course I also enjoy all the typical outdoor activities of rock climbing, running, biking, hiking, fishing, golfing, etc…
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?
Sometimes I wish that I could be a full time athlete, but unforntunatly that is not possible. Skiing just doesn’t pay enough and I like to think I got a college degree for a reason. So, I sell 3D computer graphcs software for a company here in Bend, Tech Soft 3D. I am responsable for sales in the Asia South Pacific region. It is a great company and they are extremely supportive of my ski racing.
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 plan to keep skiing through the 2010 season. After that I will need to re-evaluate ski racing. Once I retire I will likely move on to working full time with the company I am at. It will be exciting to discover new things and experiences. I also hope to go on a big sailing trip in the future.
Do you or did you ever attend college? How did you make that decision?
Yes, I attended University of Alaska Anchorage. There was not really much of a decision to be made, I got offered a nice scholorship and jumped on it. I think it would be stupid to turn down an offer like that. I was able to get a good education while continuing to ski srace and receive great coaching. There was not a bid decision to be made. I would reccomend all juniors to really consider going to school. It is not something that you should skip out on for skiing. Frankly you can become just as good of a skier if not better while in school. Just choose a good school with great coaching.
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 have really began to enjoy running races in the summer. I also really enjoy adventure racing. I am new to it, but really like it. I grew up doing every sport know to Americans. I played soccer, baseball, football, I even did gymnastics for a little while. None of them really worked out for me, somehow I ended up ski racing despite the fact that I lived 2 hours from the nearest ski area.
What do you do with any spare time at training camps or on race trips?
Play cards, hit things with golf clubs, wonder around the area. I am basically the worst nightmare for a coach. I don’t really rest… I don’t really like to sit still. Especially if we are at a distant location for the training camp. I wouldn’t want to return home and not be able to say that I didn’t see the area or meet the people.
What does your diet consist of? Do you have a favorite pre-race dinner and breakfast?
My diet is not that special. I try to eat reasonable foods and reasonable amounts of that food. I do have a minor addiction to ice-cream that throws off any other dieting that I would try to acheive. As for pre-race dinner, nothing beats spaghetti for me. Pre-race breakfest varies depending on what is availible. Cereal, oatmeal, bagels, eggs, all of them are possible.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m not sure, people always seem to know everything already.
How do you spend your weeks off?
Anything but thinking about cross country skiing. I do spend a lot of the Spring back-country skiing and snowboarding. Golfing is also a great relaxing activity. If I can find people I will be out camping. I also bought a sailboat this summer and sped a bit of time out on that.
What is the best race or workout you have ever done?
The Mt Ashland hill climb is definitely one of the hardest races I have ever done. It is 13 miles with 5000 feet of climbing. It is really REALLY hard!
What race events are in your plan for this season, and which race are you are looking forward to the most?
West Yellowstone, Whistler, Anchorage, hopefully World Cups and World Champs. The rest of the season is up in the air. The races that I do like the most are the Great Race, Noquemanon, and Boulder Mtn Tour. Hopefully i will get to do one of those. If not, I should be in Europe and having a great time so that will be good enough.
I am also really looking forward to the race to the North Pole that I am doing in April/May.
What else do you want to say?
Not really, I feel like I just wrote a Novel. If you need to know more, ask me when you see me.