Rick Halling is the Nordic Director for Atomic USA
Captain William McDonald of the Texas Rangers was greeted by the Mayor of Dallas as he stepped off the train in 1896. A major prize fight had been illegally organized that was about to take place in town and it appeared that a serious riot was about to pursue. The mayor had wired for help which led to the arrival of Capt. McDonald. Legend has it that the mayor was shocked to see just one Texas Ranger arrive at the station and he nervously asked, “where are the others?” McDonald just looked at the mayor and calmly replied, “one riot, one ranger.”
Team Atomic, the infamous Thin Red Line, has taken a similar approach to racing. “One Race, One Racer.” The International Race Director, Roman Toferer, has decided to let the other teams bring in scores of wax technicians and sponsored athletes to the major marathons. The Thin Red Line has chosen instead to send just one or two good racers to an event and then come home with the hardware for first place. Seraina Mischoll proved this strategy works when she took first place this weekend at the renowned Engadin Marathon in Switzerland. Alone and surrounded by formidable adversaries, Seraina did what she does best and skied to a decisive victory. We called Roman to discuss this strategy and the race this last weekend:
RICK HALLING: Congratulations on winning the Engadin this last weekend. I know you worked hard to recruit Seraina. Pretty impressive that she can race Worldcups and then come home to Switzerland and win the Engadin..
ROMAN TOFERER: Ja, working with Seraina is pretty easy. Give her a couple of good skis, leave her alone and she go win races.
RICK HALLING: The Norwegian Birkebeiner and Sweden’s Vasaloppet are considered the premier marathons. But as a team manager, you seem very excited about winning the Engadin.
ROMAN TOFERER: The Engadin is a very technical marathon with crazy hurt you bad climbs and it is in central Europe. So it gets top racers right off the Worldcup and so is very very competitive. Winning the Engadin says so much.
RICK HALLING: Isn’t there a tradition of women Engadin winners taking gold for the 30 k at the following Olympics?
ROMAN TOFERER: Not in recent years. But Seraina could do it. I have seen the course in Canada and it is the sort of course that Seraina likes to eat.
But Seraina is not alone in winning major marathons. I saw the Thin Red Line was cleaning up in most big Midwest Marathons in the US.
RICK HALLING: Sure, I have three guys on board who are pretty much dominating the podiums: Anders Osthus, Nikolai Anikin and Matt Weier.
ROMAN TOFERER: Sounds like you are not going with the “One Race, One Racer” approach.
RICK HALLING: For some races we don’t. I have recruited a large percentage of the US skiers who deserve support. I am not about to tell them that they can’t race some weekend just because I want to maintain the “One Racer” mystique. Roman, why do you consider it important to keep The Thin Red Line so thin? You send a minimum team of technicians to the races and you bring just a few sponsored men and women athletes. Why is that a priority for you to keep it so lean?
ROMAN TOFERER: First of all, it was Atomic skier Anders Aukland who won the overall FIS Marathon Cup last year. So, we proved you can send just one technician and one or two athletes and still win the majority of the important marathons. But more important, we want to keep what Nordic skiing is all about. These other companies, they show up with an entire bus full of technicians and an army of racers. That is okay for auto racing, but that is not what Nordic skiing is about. We are truer to the sport when we have one technician who is close friend with one or two racers and they arrive at race in one sensible car.
RICK HALLING: I can see that point. It is one thing to keep it pure and simple for a Marathon. But how about testing?
ROMAN TOFERER: We change completely for testing, for the R&D. We go overboard with technicians and athletes when it comes to testing and developing new designs and constructions.
RICK HALLING: Is it too early to talk about the new FL construction? I have been hearing good things from our “Test Pilots.” Can you tell me anything yet?
ROMAN TOFERER: Still too early. It is looking very good, but we are still developing.