Lindsey Dehlin is already a veteran of two Olympic Games, having been selected to the U.S. teams in 2002 and 2006. In 2008, Dehlin won her first national championship, in the team sprint with Lindsay Williams. Last year, Dehlin took third place in the sprint at the U.S. National Championships in Anchorage, and eighth in the five k skate.
FasterSkier: You went to Northern Michigan University for four years, and now you’re back training with them-is that right?
Lindsey Dehlin: Actually, not quite. I haven’t graduated yet, but I skied for them and I went to school there for like six years. I have been training under Sten Fjeldheim this last summer. He’s been writing my plan, so they’ll pretty much be my club and team for this winter.
FS: How many hours are you training?
LD: For the year, I’ll be between about 650 to 675, about.
FS: Tell me a little bit about Sten Fjeldheim.
LD: He’s been doing it for a lot of years, writing plans and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. One thing that’s been a bit diff than the U.S. Ski Team (USST), is that I haven’t been doing as many level four intensities early in the summer. I’m just starting to get into them in the last few weeks, which is good, I think, because you don’t want to peak too soon.
A lot of his focus is on distance skiing, and skiing with good tech in distance sessions. He’s really big on doing specific strength, single-sticking and double poling and all that.
He’s also really big into make sure you’re training in the right zones-if I go out for a distance ski it should be in level one, and intervals should be in level three.
The USST wrote my plan for the last couple of years, and when I was in school, Sten was writing my plan. So I’m actually doing a lot of the workouts I was doing when I was in school. It’s kind of going back to what I know, and what has worked for me in the past.
FS: Until I went to college I’d never really heard about the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan), but everyone I’ve met from there makes it sound pretty awesome-what’s it like up there?
LD: I pretty much live on Lake Superior. Until my brother went to school here, I’d never really heard about the U.P. either. It’s just a great place to train-this summer has actually been very cool, which has been good for training, but not really for going to the beach. It’s a five minute run from my house to get right on single track trails. I can rollerski from my house, or drive 10 minutes and get to a totally different loop. There are lots of options out here.
FS: Looking at your Web site (redgroupracing.com), it seems like you have a pretty good handle on the business and sponsorship side of things. Is that the case, or are you having trouble with the economy?
LD: I can’t really take full credit for that-my husband Dan is really good at a lot of the business side of things, and doing the web site. He designed the whole thing and has been super good getting that running. My only responsibility is updating it.
As sponsors go, this is the third year I’ve had Ames Construction. It’s a construction company based out of the twin cities in Minnesota, and one of the owners is my great uncle. He is really big into any kind of sports-they did some construction work for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake, and he’s really big into helping athletes succeed. He’s sponsored a couple other people from the Twin Cities. He’s been really helpful and the company’s been great, supporting everything I do and basically paying my way to races and camps and funding all that I do.
FS: Your husband, Dan-he’s an ultramarathoner?
LD: Yeah, he runs ultramarathons. He actually just had knee surgery about seven weeks ago. He was supposed to go out and do Leadville at the end of this month, but he injured his knee earlier this spring so he won’t be doing that. Earlier this spring, before he was injured he won a 100k marathon-he’s getting into it really big.
FS: Do you guys get out to train together very often?
LD: Within the last week it’s been okay, he’s been classic rollerskiing a couple of times. When he’s not injured, we train together quite a bit because he’s actually a cross country skier a little bit, enough to be able to join me on rollerski workouts, and I can do distance runs with him, which is great.
FS: It looks like you’re targeting the Olympics for this year, right?
LD: That’s the plan for this winter. I’ll be doing the SuperTour schedule, and then U.S. Nationals, and then hopefully from there going up to whistler. That’s the ultimate goal for this season.
FS: Can you tell me about the first couple of times you got to go?
LD: In 2002 it was really cool, because I was 17, a senior in high school, pretty young, and when my coach at the time, Kevin Brockman, told me I might have a shot I was like “yeah, okay.” And then when I made the team I was like, ‘he was actually right.’ It was super cool being at the opening ceremonies-it’s totally different than watching it on TV. It was just an amazing experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to race there-I was an alternate, so I was able to watch, which was still pretty cool, but it made me want to race even more. And then when I made it to Torino in 2006 it was still just as cool. I remember when I got the call, I was driving back to Marquette from Minnesota with my mom. I got the call in my car and I was really sick-I had just gotten a cold-but I was just so excited to hear that, and it was really cool because Lindsay Williams made the team with me, and we had trained together all fall and all winter. It was super cool to have so many people from the Northern [Michigan University] program make the team.
Lining up for the first race, I was so nervous and so excited that I probably had a smile on my face for the first two k of the race. It was an amazing experience just getting to race, and I got home after that, and I’m like, ‘I think I can train for another four years down the road.’ That’s pretty much been my focus-I know it was amazing the last two times, so I want to do it again.
FS: Do you think you’ll be able to be a bit more relaxed this time around?
LD: I’d like to say that I would be, but it’s just so exciting being there. I think with anything, the more experience you get, the more times you go, you get more comfortable doing it. Hopeful this next time around I’ll be a little bit more relaxed-I’ve raced against all those women before-and try to be able to focus a little bit more on doing the racing part of it. I’d hope I’d be a little bit more confident. It will also help, too, that I’ve been to the Olympic courses in Whistler. I’ve raced there three or four times, I’ve been there in the summer, and I think that’s definite plus for this time around.
FS: Can you give me a little perspective on not being named to the USST this year? I read on your Web site that you were just in Utah and went for a ski with some USST coaches.
LD: It was a little disappointing not being named to the team, because they’re all great coaches and great athletes, but it wasn’t really a shock. I kind of knew it was coming. I was kind of angry for a little bit, but after a while I kind of just saw it as just another speed bump, and I knew Sten would be behind me.
I was in Utah just a couple of weeks ago and I was able to get a couple of workouts in with Pete Vordenberg and Pat Casey-that was good, and it was good to see them, and they’re totally behind me as well. I’m always welcome at training camps. They’re still willing to help me out, it’s just that it didn’t work out for me to travel with them and be on the team.
FS: Does that motivate you at all?
LD: It does a little bit. I guess I don’t have anything to prove-it just motivates me and actually is a little less pressure as well, because towards the end of the season last year I was feeling kind of tired and a little bit burnt out, and if I had a bad race it was like, ‘oh, I hope I’m still on the team.’ Now that I don’t have pressure of trying to race my way to stay on the team, I’ll be able to race for myself and be able to enjoy it a little bit. I’ll be the one kicking my butt if I have a bad race. So I think it’s just a little less pressure.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.