The Road to Whistler: David Chamberlain

Nathaniel HerzJuly 2, 2009

A three-time participant at World Championships, David Chamberlain is currently training and racing with the Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC). Last year, Chamberlain was on the podium at three different Super Tours: he won the 10 kilometer classic race at Mt. Itasca, MN and placed second at both the 10 kilometer classic in Telemark, WI, and the classic sprint in Rumford, ME.

David Chamberlain leads the pack halfway through the Birkie.
David Chamberlain leads the pack halfway through last year's Birkie.

FasterSkier: You’re currently living up in Aroostook County in northern Maine, right? How has your training been going this spring?

David Chamberlain: It’s been going really well. I had a pretty restful April. I spent a week out in Bend, Oregon at the end of May at the U.S. Ski Team camp out here, and that was great—it’s an unbelievable place to train. The skiing’s really good, and the dryland in the afternoon in Bend is good, too.

After the Bend camp I met up with the rest of the MWSC guys down in Steamboat, and we had a great camp there. The weather wasn’t quite as good, and the skiing was decent—not quite as good as Bend, but Greg Rawlings was grooming up at Rabbit Ears Pass every day, and he did a great job.

Since then I’ve just been back here—kind of the usual summer fare, rollerskiing, biking.

FS: You’ve been with MWSC for a while—how long has it been exactly? You must have your workouts pretty dialed in at this point.

DC: Yeah, four years. There’s a lot of really nice farm roads through potato fields that you can run on and bike. The only drawback to being up here is that there aren’t any mountains to hike, which is something that I miss from living in western Maine. With our program here, we’ve done a good job getting down south to hike and do some rollerskiing down there.

FS: Taking a look at the MWSC roster, aside from you it’s a lot of younger athletes. How has it been working with them? Are you kind of in a mentoring role?

DC: A little bit. I’ve definitely had a lot more racing experience than a lot of those guys, as far as things like Super Tours and World Championships. They’re training well, and Will Sweetser, our coach up here—he does a really good job keeping everyone together. He helps me out with my program and he writes the programs for some of those younger guys—we try to mesh it as well as we can. To get off to Bend and ski with the Ski Team, that was a really big boost for me—there will be some other times for me where I will try to get off to some camps to ski with some other guys a little bit more at my level.

They’re doing a great job, these young guys—they’re really hungry to race and they’re training well. It’s good for me up here—we’re definitely training at a high level. It’s been good. We’ve got guys fresh out of the college scene, and then there’s a couple skiers that are joining up with us this summer that haven’t gone to college yet who are going to take a year off. Welly Ramsay, Derek Rowe—those two guys are from my old high school, and it’s good to have them up here for sure.  And we’ve got Fred Bailey, Nick Kline, Pavel Sotskov, and then there’s a bunch of juniors from this area that are training really well. We’ve got a really big group this summer—it’s definitely the biggest group since I’ve been up here.

Chamberlain at the 10k Freestyle at US Nationals, Photo courtesy of Chris Hall, Fischer Sports USA
Chamberlain at the 10k Freestyle at US Nationals, Photo courtesy of Chris Hall, Fischer Sports USA

FS: Your wife, BethAnn, is a competitive biathlete—is it a tough balancing act with both of you training at the same time?

DC: It’s actually pretty easy—we’re both on the same track, and it makes it easy that way. We work really well together—you break it down to the day-to-day stuff, and we’ve got a pretty good routine going.

FS: Do you ever train together?

DC: Yeah, we do for sure—when we’re doing recovery workouts, we might go out and pedal around together.

She works with Gary Colliander—he’s the MWSC coach but also the national team women’s coach for biathlon. She works with him, and that works out great—he writes a good program, so she’s really happy training with them.

FS: How does your training this year compare to years past?

DC: It’s pretty similar, actually—at this point I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’ve got a long list of things that have worked well and a lot that haven’t worked well. Will and I communicate really well, we work well together, and at this point I think this year we’ve definitely got things dialed in, and I’m really comfortable with what we’re doing.

FS: What about volume? Are you backing off a little bit for the Olympic year?

DC: It’s pretty similar to what I did last year, actually. It’s probably—with everything tallied up, all the distance and intervals and strength—somewhere between 700 and 800 hours. I’ve tried to do more than that, and it doesn’t work out so well, so that’s a number that is right for my body. That’s just what I’ve figured out over the years.

FS: Do you have your racing schedule solidified yet?

DC: That’s actually something we’ve been looking pretty closely at recently, because they’re still trying to tweak the calendar for next fall. I’ll definitely head out to Yellowstone, get a good couple of weeks of training out there before the Super Tour races. From there, I’ll probably stay out west for a few weeks and do some racing, wherever that will be, and then up to Alaska.

Chamberlain on his way to victory at the 2008-2009 Eastern Cup Opener - Photo Credit
Chamberlain on his way to victory at the 2008-2009 Eastern Cup Opener - Photo Credit

FS: Have you skied at Whistler yet?

DC: I haven’t skied there. I spent about two weeks there last fall with the U.S. Ski Team, doing a dryland camp. They have really nice rollerski tracks we were able to use, so we were able to ski quite a bit on the trails. I’ve heard it’s pretty crazy—the weather is pretty unpredictable, so that will be interesting. There may be a chance that I’d race there in December, but I don’t think those races have been totally finalized yet. That’s a little up in the air right now.

FS: You’ve been on the national and international circuit for about 10 years now—what’s different from when you came on the scene?

DC: The one obvious thing that I can think of is there have been a lot of changes with our ski team, the U.S. Ski Team. A lot of coaches have come and gone, each coach has come in and raised the bar a bit, from my perspective, and right now they’ve got a great team of coaches. From what I could see when I was out there in Bend, they were working really well together and working really well with the athletes—they care a lot about our skiers and the country. Being out there on my own, not as a member of the team, they were very accommodating, helping out with training and lodging, things like that. They’re working hard, there’s no doubt about it. It will be exciting to see where things go from here.

That’s the obvious thing—the level just keeps getting higher and higher here in our country, and only good things are going to come out of that for sure. Each coach that’s come through has definitely helped, and each coach is contributing in some way to raising that level from, what I can see.

Nathaniel Herz

Nat Herz is an Alaska-based journalist who moonlights for FasterSkier as an occasional reporter and podcast host. He was FasterSkier's full-time reporter in 2010 and 2011.

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