From winning the SuperTour on Sunday to being named to the United States Olympic Team, it has been an exciting week for Caitlin Compton. FasterSkier was able to catch up with her as she traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to get some training in before heading to the Canmore World Cups.
FS: It sounds like the conditions were pretty sloppy out there at the SuperTour on Sunday. Can you tell us what everyone was dealing with?
CC: Yeah, it was almost like a curse. What was Mother Nature doing? There was not much that the organizers could do, but in some ways it helps my development as many of the World Cups are contested in similar conditions and this might be just what the Olympics are like. All the volunteers in the Methow Valley did a great job pulling together and putting on an amazing event, it was a real testament to them.
FS: What were the tracks like? Did they hold up at all?
CC: I was racing on a pair of zero skis. The tracks were very squirrelly and my feet were all over the them because the tracks were really wide. I had to go in and out of the tracks the whole time to try to figure out what was working best.
FS: Where you getting good kick?
CC: This was one of those days when it was good to have a pair of zeros in your bag. I have only raced on these skis a couple of times and I was nervous because I have not tested them out that much, but they were screaming fast. Nordic Ultratune has really helped with their grinds and the local Toko reps did a great job so the skis were really fast.
FS: How did you feel out there? Were you happy with your race?
CC: Yeah, it was weird for me because I started out first of the A seeded athletes and I had no idea how I was doing. I didn’t get any splits. It felt like a time trial. During all the races lately I have gotten splits even at the sprints at US Nationals.
FS: Congratulations on making the Olympics. How did you find out?
CC: I got a call last night and I was waiting and waiting, but then when the call came in I was not sure I wanted to hear the news. It’s amazing!
FS: What is on your schedule next before heading to up to the Canmore World Cups?
CC: Well at the last minute I decided to head to Park City to get in some training with Liz and Morgan. It will be great to ski with them and work on some hills like they have up in Canmore. I was on my way home and I am a little said that I will not get to go back there to celebrate with all of my family and friends, but I am excited to train with Liz and Morgan.
FS: Many people say that you have to ski at least once in a large race before you can be successful at that level and this is your first Olympics. Do you think your experience at the World Championships in Biathlon and Nordic have prepared your for the spectacle that is the Olympics?
CC: I think having raced at three World Championships (2 XC and1 Biathlon) will help a lot with my first Olympics. I think there are a lot of other factors that will help too though. Having a World Cup in Canmore at the beginning of February will be a great way to get back into the feel of international racing before the Games. I also think that having the Olympics in North America will be a huge advantage this year.
FS: What are your goals for the games? Any idea on what races you might be skiing in or which ones you hope to ski in?
CC: I want to have my best races of the season at the Games. Right now I am focusing on a solid top 30 performance at the World Cups and I will then make a goal for the Games. I will obviously be focusing on the 10K Skate but I would also like to race the Skate Team sprint and of course the 4 X 5K Relay!
FS: Not that we have poured over all of the points, but we would guess that your race at the 10km skate race at US Nationals earlier this month helped get you on the team. Did you feel that pressure going into that race or realize right afterwards what that might have done to help make your Olympic dream a reality?
CC: I knew the 10K Skate would probably be my best opportunity for a podium so I made sure I was ready for that day. My focus that day was not on making the team though. Over the holidays I had the opportunity to stay and train in the Methow Valley before heading up to Anchorage for Nationals. While I was there I met Laura McCabe and her daughters. Laura was so strong (not to mention a very fast skier still!) and she really inspired me with her warmth and attitude despite all she had been through during the previous months. I wanted to help but I didn’t have any money. I decided before I left for Nationals to dedicate my 10K Skate race to her and her daughters and if I won money I could donate that to their fundraiser. So that was my goal for the day. It was an awesome feeling racing for someone else! It wasn’t until later that day that I realized the performance might have put me on the Olympic Team.
FS: Since you were told that you were selected to the team you most have been on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Have you been on the phone a lot spreading the news?
CC: I have been so amazed by the number of people who have contacted me. People I haven’t heard from in 15 years! My ski career has been supported by countless supporters along the way and I feel like I am sharing this moment with all of them. It feels incredible to have qualified but I also immediately began crossing my fingers that there would be more quota spots for the other athletes who have been skiing incredible and inspiring me throughout the season.