FasterSkier: So, last year you got a chance to ski in a couple of World Cups-one in Whistler and one in Europe.
Colin Rodgers: I got to go to Whistler, and then I got the overall title for the sprint spot, so I got some World Cup starts and I raced in Lahti, Finland and Trondheim, Norway.
FS: It seemed like you really took your skiing up a notch from last year getting to ski over in Europe. What was different about last year for you-was it the training and the preparation, or you just figured out the racing and tactics?
CR: I think it’s just a culmination-I’ve been training now for a long time-experience has helped a lot, and I think last year I did some pretty good catering my training, not specifically towards sprints but some key workouts that helped increase my speed and my quickness, and that helped my sprint results jump up a notch.
FS: What was it like racing over in Europe? Was that your first time there racing in World Cups?
CR: That’s the first time I’ve raced World Cups over in Europe for sure. I raced a fair amount over in Europe in the past. I’ve been skiing for a long time-I did the Scandinavian series when I was young, and I went to World Juniors and U-23’s, actually those were in Salt Lake, but those were my first World Cups in Europe.
FS: What was the competition like?
CR: It was incredible-you race in those Scandinavian World Cups and that’s the ultimate level for competition. You have obviously all the top guys but them when you race in Finland, Sweden and Norway, they have their Nation’s Group spots so those guys are getting to take-last year in Trondheim, they almost had like 20 guys that started. But it was really deep list, at a World Chamionships they only get four starts, plus maybe one or two if those guys have previously medaled, but you have a deep, deep field when you’re racing a Scandinavian World Cup. Maybe not everyone’s at peak fitness at that time, but the fields are deep, to you go over and try to pop some good ones against those guys, it really lets you know where you are.
FS: The scene must be pretty cool, too.
CR: Lahti was incredible. The jump is right there too-the Finns are way into jumping. The sports complex there is really sweet-it kind of loops through a big soccer field, and coming in and out of there is wild. In Norway, that was really sweet too-I did the mid-week sprint, and then the 50 k was that Saturday. I don’t think there were quite as many people out for the sprint, because there’s such tradition in the 50 k, but it was still really cool. The wax was really tricky, but it was still pretty exciting, there were still a few thousand fans out there for sure.
FS: Before I get into asking you about you plans for this year, you went to Holderness, right? What was it like skiing there?
CR: I went to Holderness for my sophomore through senior year. I went to Essex High School in Essex Junction, Vermont, for my freshman year.. And then I wanted to keep skiing, so that was a good fit for me. There’s a pretty active community there-they had a good ski program. The education was important to my family, so I would have preferred to actually have gone to a ski academy, but that was what was going to fit for me.
FS: Now you’re with SVSEF and Fischer-Craft?
CR: The Fischer-Craft team is more Fischer now. I’m racing with Sun Valley and Fischer-it’s a good fit our here. I spent pretty much my entire life in the East, so coming out west is a fun change.
FS: So for this year, are you focusing on the sprint for the Olympics, or are you shooting for more than one event?
CR: I think sprint is my best shot-that classic sprint is definitely where I have my best chance to perform the best, get the best result, but at the same time I have the potent to perform even better with the distance races. I’m not changing my training up too much-I train mostly like a generalist, I’m not 100 percent sprint-specific training. I still have goals of being a faster distance skier and a faster sprinter. The sprint is where I have my best shot for sure, if something else comes up and my fitness is really good, it’d be great to snag another spot.
FS: In terms of your training, then-is it pretty similar to last year?
CR: I’m doing some longer threshold stuff. I started that earlier in the spring, just doing continuous bouts of threshold instead of just breaking it up, and doing a lot of four by six to four by eight minutes. Instead, I’m working just straight on through, just trying to get in a really good rhythm. That’s something in my distance skiing I haven’t had as good a grasp on. I think this threshold training will try to help a little bit in the distance skiing and then later on the rounds as well in sprint races. Another thing I changed was just keeping in touch with race fitness in the spring. In the past I’ve gone straight to easy volume training, and I’ve lost touch with what it feels like to push at a higher level. I feel like I’ve kept a pretty good level, and I haven’t totally drifted away from what it feels like to push myself really hard, so I think that will help, especially going into the early part of the season, which is so important this year.
FS: How many hours are you training?
CR: I’ve been training between 750 and 800 hours for probably the last four to five years now. Before that I was between 650 and 750. You’re always trying to figure out what works best for each individual-I’ve found that I can’t really handle a ton of volume in the racing season. A few years back I tried keeping the volume pretty high, 12 to 15 hours throughout the racing season, and that was just overdoing it. So now in the wintertime my hours go back to eight to ten-obviously it’s cyclical, but I’m not as concerned about it. I definitely lose a little bit of hours in the winter time, but in May I start with 70 hours a month, and my biggest month is like 85 or 89. This year might not be quite as high-80 to 85 hours for a four-week block.
FS: One of your sponsors is Vasa Trainer-do you use one of those?
CR: Rob Sleamaker goes way back in my family-my dad used to be involved in biathlon, and Rob was a sports physiologist. He’s an inventor, he has a really cool perspective and inquisitive mind, always questioning what might be right, what might not be great. He’s been great, and I use his double pole machine quite a bit, it’s a great machine. Rob’s a great help and influence in my skiing for sure.
FS: Outside of skiing-I read on your profile on the FasterSkier site that you work painting houses and cutting wood?
CR: I mostly paint houses-I’ve done a little bit of timber framing. I have some buddies with a timber framing business-that’s maybe a trade I’d get into a little further down the road. I’m mostly super interested in it, I like to work with my hands, and build my own house some day. I do a bunch of painting in the summertime, that’s how I support myself, painting a lot of homes out here, staining a lot of homes out here in Sun Valley.
FS: Does that affect your training at all, or is it not too much of a problem?
CR: It’s definitely a little bit of an issue, but I try to be smarter about it this year than I have been in the past. You’ve got to make some money somehow, so painting is a good way to do it. This year, I work with Chris Mallory, we do some houses, he’s a coach out here in Sun Valley, and so we stain some homes on the side, it’s pretty good, staying busy and I basically worked hard through the beginning of July this year. I’ve taken a break since then, but I’m coming back and will be doing some houses in September again. It’s good not to be thinking about skiing a hundred percent of the time.
FS: You also wrote on your profile that you’re a quarter collector, and that you still needed a Pennsylvania quarter. I’ve got a Pennsylvania quarter that I found in my room the other day-if you still need one you could trade me for it.
CR: I’ve completed my collection-my buddies were giving me a hard time for that, so they ended up finding me the Pennsylvania quarter. What was really cool was-Willie Neal, a kid who trained with us, he passed away, but right before they had that accident, he did an internship with John Kerry, and somehow for the internship he got ahold of the Puerto Rico quarter. Willie was a great guy, and that’s like totally completed my quarter collection.
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.