OlympicsRacingUS Ski TeamFreeman Ends Olympics with DNF, Southam Posts top US Men’s Result

Avatar Topher SabotFebruary 28, 2010184

Whistler, British Columbia – The US men’s cross-country ski team concluded a disappointing Olympics with two very different performances in the 50km classic.

Kris Freeman, who inexplicably struggled the entire Games, dropped out after 20 kilometers.  He spent the first 15km with the lead pack, but was always at the back, hanging on.  He lost contact, and with a month of World Cup racing potentially ahead, he opted to save his body.

“My coaches said if I was out of it early, they wanted me to stop.  I think they have the rest of my season in mind and they don’t want me to hurt myself,” Freeman said.

“I was right in there and I was skiing relaxed,” Freeman continued.  “But you just can tell when something is off and I was just working a little too hard to be going that speed.”

Freeman.

Freeman does not have any answers as to what went wrong.  He did not race well in the 15km, and reportedly did not have great skis for that race.  He then had a major blood sugar crash in the pursuit, and though he finished the race, the episode cost him minutes.  He sat out the relay as he attempted to recover enough to compete in the 50km.

“It has been an exhausting two weeks.  I have no real answers for why the first race went so bad or the second race, and today I was just exhausted.  I never envisioned that the Olympics could go this poorly for me.  It is about the worst week of racing I have ever had.”

Freeman will now regroup with his coaches and figure out the next step.

Southam.

James Southam, the only other US starter, besting Simi Hamilton’s 29th in the sprint for the best result by the US men.

Southam skied the first 60% of the race with the lead pack, rubbing elbows at the front at times.

“I felt good.  I was a lot more relaxed out of the start and I picked up spaces where I could, and all of a sudden I was in the top-5 – a little surprising.”

Southam did not find the pace overwhelming, but a self-described poorly-timed ski change left him off the back.  “I just couldn’t fight my way back up to the group.”

The 28th place finish was Southam’s top international result.  He described it as a good race that was almost great.

He switched skis twice, the first time at 20km, but the new pair was not as good.  “On the first switch I got back on to the main group no problem, but the second time I couldn’t quite get back up there.”

His switch did give coaches a chance to touch up his better pair, and he switched back over at 30km.  Unfortunately that was the end of his run with the leaders.

Overall Southam had a decent Olympics, not reaching his goals, but turning in several respectful performances, with his best coming today.  His 50 FIS points today confirms the good effort.

Southam will now head to Europe for World Cup races in Lahti and Oslo before returning home for a week prior to US Distance Nationals in Maine.

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Topher Sabot

Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.

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184 comments

  • Avatar
    fitausa

    February 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    It is really too bad that Freeman would drop out on what could be his last Olympic race ever. Who cares if your skis were terrible so were everyone elses, that is not the Olympic spirit. What is he saving himself for, this was the Olympics, the pinnacle of all sports?

    Way to go Southam you should be proud. As well, Simi had a great Olympics. It is odd the two best male skiers, and even the best female skier in this Olympics, don’t train with the US team exclusively. Simi is at Sun Valley, Southam and Randall at APU. Maybe it is time for a coaching/system change for the US Cross-Country. Newell should have won a medal by now, maybe some change in his training/coaching is in order.

    APU should start a Team America thing if there is not going to be a change.

  • Avatar
    birkieturkey

    March 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

    right on fitausa. “My coaches said if I was out of it early, they wanted me to stop.” freeman – this is the freaking biggest race of your life. this is the olympics 50 km. this is the olympic race that your coaches have been hyping to the xc community for 4 years that you were going to be a podium threat in. and now you let them talk you into dnfing just because you weren’t going to make the podium!? why didn’t southam quit when he realized he wasn’t making the podium? probably because southam can think for himself. this was the most depressing usst xc olympics showing ever. like fitausa said – it’s a good thing randall, southam and simi train away from the usst more than with them. crack pot vordenberg needs to go. and he should take the usst girls other than randall with him. they all got their butts kicked by a girl with a full time job – holly. and freeman – maybe taking some time off, get healthy, go to school and get a life would be a good thing to do for a year or two. or maybe more.

  • Avatar
    rick

    March 1, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Not everyone will agree with the two comments above. Kris had some very hard events earlier and was probably drained. Other good racers, who knew they were not in the running, “tossed in the towel” and saved it for a better day. That is the wise thing to do.
    Showing guts is fine, but is not always the smartest plan. With World Cup races in the future it doesn’t do any good to “whip a dead hourse.”
    Lets hope Kris can rest up and have some good races in March.

  • Avatar
    deanerbeano

    March 1, 2010 at 3:15 am

    I would just like to point out that Kris Freeman has type 1 diabetes. thats not “oh I shouldn’t eat that” diabetes. Thats “mismanage your insulin and you could slip into a coma while you sleep” diabetes. If the guy says somethings not right with his body, he knows. I think it’s pretty rich hearing you masterblasters rip into this guy, as if he’s not the most disappointed person on the planet with his performances. As if he hadn’t put his life on hold for over a decade to chase his dreams. The guy doesn’t make excuses, he’s competitive as hell and he’s one of our best despite the fact that any sane person would have quit over 10 years ago in the interest of their own health. Bird, you’re an inspiration.

  • Avatar
    kaiser

    March 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

    wow guys cut freeman some slack. Not only did he finish the 30km after a huge blood sugar fiasco he also fought hard in the other races. and he did not throw in the towel because he was not going to make the podioum, he stopped skiing because he was having a bad race. their is nothing you can do about that and unlike 15 km where you can just HTFU till the finish a 50km can really screw you up for weeks if you push your self when you are feeling bad. And so what if this might be his last race at the olympics. it was smart of him to go out and save himself for the late season world cups, even if the general public does not give a crap about them. So america had a bad olympics but you should not take out your anger on Freeman because he bailed on the hardest race of the season. it was a smart call by him and hopefuly he will be up on top form later this year.

  • Avatar
    John C

    March 1, 2010 at 9:54 am

    As a NH resident and a guy who first met Kris when he was in grade school, I am proud of Kris and the growth and maturity that he shows. It is in sharp contrast to the insight and temperament elicited by several of those commenting on his Olympic experience. This kid has done more in his career then his circumstances would ever portend, and with his diabetes a bonk isn’t just a bad day, it is an acidosis pain fest, with instant disorientation. Listen to his interviews now and from years ago. See how he handles himself. Watch Kris ski, and realize that this kid wants more than you could imagine to win, and his life, even is future health and well being are being put on the chopping block to accomplish his goals. He may not have it all figured out, but he’s a lot closer than the rest of us have gotten. Go Kris!

  • Avatar
    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 10:18 am

    OK, here are my thoughts.

    1. If you don’t have something positive to say, keep your mouth shut. Why? Because you are not contributing anything useful. Those who are actually working to help our top athletes have a right to comment as they are pulling with our athletes. It is simply not right for someone on his high horse to trash our coaches and athletes without knowing anything about it except that our results were disappointing. Either help our situation or keep your darned mouth shut.

    2. From what I know, ALL of the athletes are extremely happy (grateful and excited even) for the coaching that they have received from the USST coaching staff. I am of the opinion that training at home with your home club works better for some people as has been demonstrated time and again. Some people are more resilient and can be uprooted to Park City and continue to grow though. Regardless, the current USST coaching staff is knowledgeable, tireless, creative, and we are be lucky to have them. They are also careful to foster great cooperation with the clubs that some of our top athletes come from.

    3. OK, so why were our results poor? Southam has made great progress (good). Simi made great progress (good). Kikkan had a banner Olympics, especially considering that the individual sprint was in the classic technique (good). Freeman had a tough one. I think the reasons for this have been clearly documented and were there out in the open for all to witness – blood sugar issues for the last two races and for the first one, his big opportunity, bad luck with the snow fall coupled with probably the wrong skis. That sucks and I feel for him. Don’t lay this on on the USST coaches, he has been in great form this season and I believe still is. Give him a 10 or 15k with decent conditions to prove himself and he will come through. Newell’s fall – are you really going to try to lay this one on the coaching staff? Again, this sucks and I totally feel crushed for him. He has the ability, was there and ready to kill it, and just made a dumb mistake. The guy has worked too hard (like Freeman) to put up with your crap. Koos – 2nd fastest qualifier in the World Cup before the games which was easily his best result of the season. Clearly his coaches had him going in the right direction. Sucks that he didn’t get past the qualifier, but he had a good chance to do well (don’t lay this one on the coaches, he was prepared). We have others on the team too who are great and whose results went unnoticed.

    4. The bottom line is that these athletes ARE the best that we have and normally they are darned good. Crapping on them isn’t going to do anything except hurt them. They are our best. Let’s sustain and support them and try to do whatever we can do to help them to the top. Cutting them down especially during the Games is nothing but MALICIOUS. These athletes, who are our best, really want to work with the current coaching staff. OK, so accept this, pray or wish for better fortune the next time around (or maybe find a more tangible way to support our elite skiers) and if you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say anything.

    5. I do recognize the need for a discussion on how we can progress as a ski nation. This is not appropriate to do DURING the games. Nor are 99% of you guys qualified to contribute. You don’t understand the situation at all except that the results are not satisfactory to you. Just keep quiet, wish them well, try to be supportive, and leave it to those who are actually involved somewhat.

  • Avatar
    fitausa

    March 1, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for your thoughts Harvey. Try and make your response longer next time, someone must have hit a sore spot. Keeping your mouth shut will not help accomplish anything. We live in a democracy for a reason, not a dictatorship. We need all this out in the open to make the USST the best. Back room deals rarley work. The frustration is directed at a program that has had lacluster results for 10 years, I believe the athletes are capable of more, I obviously have more faith in our athletes to perform then Harvey. Yes I understand Freeman has diabetes, that is much harder to deal with, however going into a race and thinking droping out is a good option will never result in a good finish. I am not crapping on our athletes just the coaches.

  • Avatar
    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

    “We need all this out in the open to make the USST the best”. This is what you wrote. What is “out in the open” now that wasn’t something that we are aware of before? You act like you have some kind of insider info and we are all being done the favor of your wisdom.

    There is a constant dialog between the USST and the coaches in the US. There is also a conference every spring where coaches come and we plan as a country how to improve. This all has been happening for years and is in no way a “back room deal”.

    You also wrote, “keeping your mouth shut will not help accomplish anything”. Actually I disagree. I think keeping YOUR mouth shut is a great first step.

  • Avatar
    skierout

    March 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

    This is how the USST begins operating in a vacuum. If you don’t coach at APU, SVSEF, CXC, etc, and pass on excuses after bad races, then we don’t want to hear it. If you don’t agree with what we are doing, then shut up. Only people with similar thinking to us will be heard.

    This is the nature of the beast of online anonymous comments. If comments are clearly uninformed, then ignore them. If they still bite a little, then maybe there’s some truth to it. It is humorous to watch supporters like Ian ride in on their high horse trying to knock others off of theirs.

    I hope the USST takes an open-minded approach to improve their preparation for the next World Championships and Olympics.

  • Avatar
    skifree

    March 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Wow fitausa, your comments are quite interesting. I’m wondering what your personal history is with cross country skiing. You seem to be quite confident about what is and what is not working, so you must hold all the answers. Please, tell us all what the secret is. Do you race? Do you coach? With your comments I sure hope you do at least one of these and I hope you’re one of the best in the country because then your perspective might actually be relevant. If not then you really should just continue being a spectator and keep your mouth shut because you obviously don’t know what it takes to coach and compete at the Olympic level.

  • Avatar
    NordicSkier17

    March 1, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I certainly believe in free speech but I think you have to cut Kris some major slack on his results in Vancouver. Kris is a Type 1 diabetic and while he is not one to make excuses, I believe blood sugar issues were a major factor in each of his races. Kris is an amazing athlete to accomplish everything he has with Type 1 Diabetes in the most physically demanding sport in existence. I’d give my right arm to be able to ski half as well as Kris.

  • Avatar
    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 11:42 am

    You start out by saying how the USST operates in a vacuum. Then you list the clubs that the USST obviously cooperates with at a high level and listens to. You have to say “etc” because there are so many (and yes, you left many out). Doesn’t that contradict the vacuum accusation? It is simply not true. Go to a coaches conference or even talk with the USST staff (any of them) and you will see something totally different from what you think.

    I do recognize that some athletes seem to be better training at home with their home clubs. This is definitely the case for many of our elite skiers. I think that this is normal as most of these kids have support networks and “home cooking” that really works for them. It is this support that got them noticed in the first place. This is a totally different subject than what has been thrown out there which was more in the line of, “the USST coaches suck and this is why our athletes didn’t perform”.

  • Avatar
    eastcoastski

    March 1, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Freeman is a cocky and this is why people hate on him. I don’t think fitausa has to all wrong he is challenging our USA program to be better. Much like all the Norge press was doing when Northug didn’t do well in the 15k. If we keep agreeing the US team is doing well these results will continue. Fitausa don’t worry about Ian everyone talks behind his back and thinks he is a joke. That said I would suggest to look at people’s arguements, are you a coach, who cares we all can read. I would agree we need new coaches try and hire internationally we could steal some coaches from good programs. The sore spot had been hit and the excuses are flying now!!

  • Avatar
    skifree

    March 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    eastcoastski, what does reading have to do with being a knowledgeable coach (“…are you a coach, who cares we all can read.”)? Maybe you should look at your own argument because I’m not really seeing a logical one in your post.

  • Avatar
    Hacker

    March 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I am neither a coach or a competitive racer. I am just a fan and ski enthusiast. Before the games, all the ski disciplines raised our hopes that they would do well. Now that the games are over, it seems like all the disciplines – except cross country – delivered the goods at some level. If this were a company, they would likely fire them all – coaches and skiers who did not deliver – and start again. Maybe in sports there is another approach.

  • Avatar
    davidf2d

    March 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    There were lots of skiers, men and women who dropped out of the marathon races. To struggle along, just to be heroic is dumb. First Freeman is slagged for not producing results, then he’s slagged for not plugging along despite everything going badly. Seems like some just want to slag him and the USST in general. Becky Scott said her disaster at Nagano taught her that skiing at the Olympics is different than skiing in other competitions. Be careful who you blast unless you have more to offer than fire the coach, Alaska should separate.
    Dave

  • Avatar
    skierout

    March 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I was referring to the potential of the team to begin operating in a vacuum in response to some negative comments. I agree that the team has been very open in the past by sending information to the general public and receiving info from programs that I mentioned.

    I am suggesting that the people who “really matter” or “actually know something” take these comments with a grain of salt. I hope they do not become hypersensitive and close doors in the future.

  • Avatar
    RonBott

    March 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    “Nor are 99% of you guys qualified to contribute.”

    This kind of elitism is unfortunate and not helping the progress of XC skiing in the US at all.

  • Avatar
    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Let me just say that I am glad that when I was striving as an athlete to make my mark for the USA in the world scene, there wasn’t a forum available for anonymous people to take pot shots at me and my support team such as coaches and teamates.

  • Avatar
    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Ron,
    I don’t mean to insult you if I did. To get my point, just read the comments that have been made on this thread and on the previous ones that were done during the Games. There is nothing at all constructive about most of them. Basically what is repeated over and over is “our athletes suck and so do our coaches”.

    “We” had a pretty poor Olympics as far as Kris, Andy, and Torin go (but a huge congrats to Kikkan). Consider though that this is the same bunch of skiers who finished with a ton of top 10s in the past few years. We had some back luck this time around and nobody is more torn up about it than our athletes and coaches.
    Ian

  • Avatar
    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    While this is an interesting topic and certainly deserves some discussion and even some debate, it is sad to see the bashing that has been doled out during the Olympics — it happened during and after Torino too, as I recall. It’s just sad and pointless — it doesn’t help at all to be negative like that. I have no respect for people like “fitusa” as athletes or even observers. It’s obvious you’ve never been at a level that would give you any sort of notion of what it’s like to compete at a top level and everything that it takes: sacrifices, hard work, mental strength, talent. You don’t understand it at all.

    However, I agree that the system, not the individual athletes or coaches, needs some serious scrutiny. The main problem I can see is that the sport just isn’t popular enough in the USA for a solid foundation of support from the bottom to the top (…dealing with this in our own local situation). We have managed to build a program to develop a few shining examples, but it’s a bit of a glass bottom. We need to look at how we’ll build up the program structure to have more WC-level skiers to choose from; who can push each other and generally make the program more solid. We’ve had to rely on too few skiers and now we blame those solitary figures for the relative “failure.” That sucks!

    Kris has type-I diabetes and we blame him for the failure? I think his biggest achievement is not what his WC and Olympic results are, but what he’s accomplished in pushing the limits of what a type-I diabetic is capable of. It’s really too bad that he doesn’t have a solid group of WC-level skier around him to pick up the slack or help him carry the load. Same goes for Newell, Koos and Randall. And, that’s about it — 4 WC-level skiers? Well, now Southam should be considered that level, as his results demonstrated…

    Anyway, only a constructive review can help progress. The athletes and coaches gave more than 100% here…hell, I recon that Kris went so far as to inflict some damage to himself by finishing the 30km with crashed blood sugar. He was smart to bail on the 50km for the sake of his health.

    My philosophy is that the only way we are going to realize the success that we’re looking for is to actively participate in helping the system. Promote races, promote junior programs and help drive them to events where there are other juniors, volunteer and invest in your local community’s programs, etc. It’s amazing what kind of “real world perspective” that gives you.

  • Avatar
    skierout

    March 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    To get on the general topic of “coaches sucking and should be fired.” I believe whole-heartedly that all USST coaches work their asses off. Often times, they’re asked to make a lot out of very little in terms of talent depth, training experience, and funding.

    With that being said, the mere suggestion that coaches or staff should be reviewed, evaluated, or even fired is not completely unfair. It seems unrealistic because it is doubtful to find anyone in the US who can do a better job. And I doubt there is funding to bring some international who could do better. But maybe there is.

  • Avatar
    ande3577

    March 1, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    “Nor are 99% of you guys qualified to contribute.”

    I’ll remember those words the next time I see a USSA affiliated fundraising drive.

  • Avatar
    nexer

    March 1, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Don’t lose sight of the fact that everyone who reads fasterskier is also a ski fan. You can’t get mad at people who don’t understand. The public has only a small edited snapshot of what goes on behind the scenes. The best way to gain public support is to invite people into your circle and not chastise them for not knowing what you think they should know.

  • Avatar
    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    That’s a great point, thanks nexer.

  • Avatar
    nexer

    March 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    To add to my above comment, Ian, be glad that there’s such a strong reaction to Kris’ performance. It shows we all have stake in it. No reaction would probably mean nobody gave a damn.

    The comments on fasterskier over the last two weeks have given the USST a fantastic opportunity to address the way it’s viewed in the eyes of the ski world. Instead of wondering what people think, now it knows.

  • Avatar
    NordicSkier17

    March 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Excellent post nexer.

  • Avatar
    longtimer

    March 1, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Both sides, represented here by fitusa and ianharvey, have some reasonable points, but best not to let emotions and name calling get in the way of a discussion that some of us may have seen coming for weeks if not months, if you go Topher Sabot’s “glass half full” report just after Senior Nationals (years and decades if you’ve been following Nordic skiing in the USA for a long time).

    First though–major congrats are due to the Nordic combined team. They have had some ups and downs and major disappointments over the decades, but over the past 20 years there has been steady improvement. 4 medals! They’ve been doing something right.

    Sigh to the Nordic team, it’s totally understandable to feel disappointed, especially after how many years of hearing lines from USST going something like “…anything short of a medal is not acceptable.” Okay.

    We’ve been patient. But rather than building expecations for medals, how about working for more consistent top 10s, 15s, and 20s, while continuing to strive for those medals.

    There was bad luck and mitigating circumstances this time (as with every Olympics and every team), and there were some bright spots (Kikkan Randall especially, and the APU skiers performed pretty well), but overall these Olympics were a major disappointment for USA. There is no getting around that.

    As a long time observer, fan, racer, and coach–who at one time did have some short stints at Park City as an aspiring athlete–one thing that has been on my mind over the past few months is that the more things change the more they are the same.

    How about bringing in some coaches and administrators from the top European programs?

    (now I will duck and cover with Nomex)

  • Avatar
    PDN

    March 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Well, by the end I think I’m finally glad that I spent the time reading this thread. Constructive discussion is ESSENTIAL, and now is a great time for it.
    Could FasterSkier PLEASE get someone with authoritative knowledge to write an article comparing the state of the US cross country program to that of Nordic Combinded?
    1) How do their budgets compare in $/athlete?
    2) support staff/athlete?
    3) How long have the guys who just made history been benefiting from the current regime?
    There are many other comparisons that would be interesting- as the NC team basked in their well deserved press, one that stood out to me was their strong sense of camaraderie and how much they work together.
    Hacker, I do think it can be useful to think of the team as a business, but to a point. As Skierout points out, firing everyone would not work because it’s unlikely that the replacements would do a better job. A thorough review is warranted.
    -tclaynm@juno.com– has is right, the most constructive thing anyone can do is get involved and improve skiing in their own community.
    As for the vitriol – democracy doesn’t mean anyone can be an a**hole and get away with it. The majority has every right to impose social order through persuasion or penalty. That’s political reality.
    We all have every right to be frustrated, but before you take it out on someone else go do some intervals until you puke and realize that you’d still be behind our USST.

  • Avatar
    Marjot

    March 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    The US needs to send the twenty best athletes (Measure VO2 max etc) it can find and race them on the World Cup all winter, year after year. With so few entering the US XC pool due to the cost of participating as a youth (except maybe for Alaska) the pool is limited to those with parents with money to play. USA Running can produce because the best can compete against the best in open events for far les money and be discovered. Development programs need to cast a very wide net. Not just the $50,000 per year schools and residents from ski towns. Some of the current athletes are capable but prevented from the European Level weekly head to head competition that would step them up. Even the “top” USA XC skiers are allowed to pick and choose, come and go from Europe, and baby themselves rather that harden themselves with relentless competition. You don’t get to the top without competing at the top day in and day out. The top competitive events currently are not in the USA. Why don’t the parents sending thier skiers to expensive schools send them to live, train and breathe on the European circut for far less per year? College can wait. Many of the Medalists have been young so the idea that the best comes older just means they will be that much better next time! Seems to me an Olympic Medal opens far more doors in life than graduating from college on time. Focusing all the resouces on a very few is totally counter productive. Most of the best talent never gets a chance to develop head to head with the BIG Guns in Europe. If USSA cant do it scientifically, then the skiiers ought to do it and show the USSA how to develop a large stable of winners.

  • Avatar
    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    …no need to duck and cover. That was a good comment (longtimer). I think we have good coaches, but some other fresh eyes that have seen what kind of programs develop success at that level might be a necessity. Definitely some successful and experienced administrators might help.

    I also didn’t mean to bash every non-positive comment. I agree that we need to be critical of the situation. I just think it needs to be constructive and offer possible solutions, and remain insightful. Just saying that we stink and are looking for excuses and everyone needs to be fired isn’t the answer. There are obviously a lot of smart people who follow xc skiing on FS, so let’s hope we can have more positive discussion on directions the USST might be able to explore in order to get the program where it should be.

    How did the Nordic combiners do it? How can the program build like that? They were certainly awesome and it seems like they were able to build off of many years of trial and error — Bill Demong credits Todd Lodwick’s years of struggling and hard work as one of the reasons they were successful. I suspect the USST coaches are learning a lot from working with Kris Freeman, Andy Newell, Torin Koos, and to some extent, Kikkan Randall. This experience needs to remain in the program.

  • Avatar
    jmrbrts

    March 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Seems to me that anyone who has criticized the USST the past couple of weeks has been met with personal attacks rather than constructive, valid counterargument. There are a few exceptions, but not many. I’d like to see a list of people who are “qualified” to comment on an athlete’s performance or the efficacy of the USST training program. How about a list of criteria that would qualify you to be an “informed commenter”? I would love to see that, because I’ll bet most of you who tell others they “aren’t qualified to comment” are yourselves not “qualified” either. The 3 people who are can just email each other. It’s not helpful to act like you know what you’re talking about when you don’t. That goes for ignorant comments as well as everyone attacking those commenters. One thing you almost never see on fasterskier comments or forums is “in my opinion, …” Too many of you think you know all there is to know.
    Instead of telling someone to shut up because they don’t understand what it’s like to be diabetic (do you?), why not offer something more constructive? Obviously Kris had his reasons for dropping out of the 50k. The act of asking why does not in itself question his dedication, strength, etc.
    Nexer is right, and 99% of Americans know next to nothing about Nordic ski racing except what they see every 4 years on NBC. Meanwhile, they see the other parts of USST (alpine, combined, snowboarding, moguls) kicking ass and winning lots of medals–so is it wrong to ask why cross-country isn’t meeting the same standard? I’m not trying to say anything negative about the US cross country athletes, I think they’re working their asses off and doing their best and I hope no one disagrees.
    That being said, US Nordic will not progress without criticism. I’m sure all the coaches and staff will be spending quite a bit of time evaluating every detail of the games, but that is a small and closed circle.

  • Avatar
    skierout

    March 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I think there is a general theme in many of the critical comments. The USST over-hyped their expectations for these games with a tinge of arrogance. And that has caused some resentment in the outer ski community. Outer ski community being the people who follow the team, but are not exactly in the loop or circle of friends.

    All of the talk about “being pro” and “doing it the American way” and “not hoping, but knowing” fired people up before the games and let them down during the games. And now listening to reasons/excuses of bad luck, poor ski selection, difficult wax conditions, diabetes, lack of Olympic experience, and classic not being Kikkan’s best discipline is a bit hard to swallow.

    People with critical comments would rather hold the USST accountable and criticize the preparation involved in waxing, ski selection and Kris’s management of diabetes. All of which were said to be well-taken care of before the games started. If 8th was an outstanding classic sprint for Kikkan, then don’t pin her as a medal favorite. If Newell and Koos failing to qualify is bad luck, were their WC podiums just good luck?

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    vinner

    March 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    fitausa has it absolutely right! If we are not willing to look and the complete failure of the US Ski Team apparatus for the last, at least, 10 years we will never get better. Elitists like Ian Harvey like to pretend that others don’t know nearly as much as them. If that’s true why is Harvey standing behind an obviously failed program. By the way Harvey, don’t flatter yourself about having anonymous comments when you were racing, you were never good enough for anyone to care. If you are wondering if I “know” anything about skiing or coaching rest assured that this is someone who beat you consistently although that doesn’t narrow the list much. The reason anonymous posting is necessary ties in with the terrible US showing. The US team is based upon whether your friends with the coaches, not how fast you ski (e.g. Justin Freeman, Andrew Johnson, Torin Koos) so its best not make the US team mad. I’m not saying I’m at this level but I believe that if Petter Northug was a US citizen, skiing as fast as he currently is, and didn’t tow the US team line, he would be skiing for APU because the US team wouldn’t have him. Time to base a team on merits rather than nepotism.

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    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    OK, I understand that we (US Cross Country fans) were given the impression that medals were coming. I think the USST was aiming high in their goals and that’s admirable.

    The fact is Kris Freeman has never been on a World Cup podium (4th and 5th multiple times), Kikkan has been on twice, Newell twice, and Torin once. That’s a total of 5 podiums out of maybe 400 starts combined? Forgive me if I missed one or added one, I’m just going off memory. I am including world championships in these numbers of course. So, the chances of a podium in these specific racese were actually pretty slim, but it was there. That’s more than we have been able to say since Bill Koch’s era.

    Despite this, if you look at World Cup results, the USST has been on a dramatic and consistent rise in results for the last many years.

    I do understand though how if people had the impression that we were surely going to get medals and then fell short, there would be a disappointment that might manifest itself in the form of complaining about the athletes and coaches anonymously on this forum. I wish it weren’t so, but I understand it.

    I don’t know of a more enjoyable community overall than our cross country skiers.

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    jmeserve

    March 1, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Speaking of NBC,
    I hope everyone is taking the time to thank NBC for their unprecedented coverage of the X-C. If you listened to Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe on MSNBC) this morning go on and on about how compelling the Nordic events were to watch this Olympics could very well have been a positive watershed moment for Nordic Skiing in the U.S.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Vinner, you’ve stooped, man….

    You mention nepotism as being the means by which the teams have been chosen, but if you look at all of those athletes, including Ian Harvey, they were the fastest US skiers who were consistently capable of skiing at that level — nepotism or not, they were there by merit as well. The only one I’ve scratched my head at is Leif Zimmerman in 2006, but the deal there was that he actually qualified based on the selection criteria. I don’t think they ever used him at all in any of the races.

    I’m pretty sure the USA would let Northug on the team. I’ll bet he would be a complete freakin’ national hero with his mouth and ability — just look at Muhammad Ali:

    “Frazier is so ugly that he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.”
    Muhammad Ali

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    ianharvey

    March 1, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I am not talking about the last 15 years where I was struggling to stay fit with a family and a full time job that was most demanding in the winter. For me the past 15 years, skiing has been purely a hobby and very enjoyable.

    I am not standing behind our current program. Of course there can be improvements. This hasn’t been the dialog though. I am standing in front of our coaches and athletes and saying, “stop throwing garbage at our country’s best and try to contribute”. I hope we can work together as a community to improve our program and results and not just take pot shots.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    In my opinion this issue is primarily about respect. Our athletes and staff are indeed the best we have, and they have given their best efforts. This deserves our respect. When the athletes and staff are personally attacked and dis-respected, nothing good can come of it. Even if they are fired and demoted, mutual respect is paramount to future success.

    This goes both ways. If athletes and staff have carried themselves in an arrogant manner over the last 4 years, certainly those offended along the way are waiting for the Olympic let-down and relish the opportunity to dog pile on. Some of our athetes and staff may have been “asking for it”.

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    longtimer

    March 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Don’t write me off as not needing Nomex quite yet!

    Here goes, with the most controversial first.

    The faces have changed but what hasn’t changed much in the past 20 or 30 years is the USST still operated mostly by former USST skiers, and indeed, if anything, the circle is tighter than in generations past. The ones in now were junior skiers 20-25 years ago and they were groomed into the system.

    No doubt they are hard working, professional, and have accomplished a lot in their lives as athletes, coaches, and administrators. But is there a possibility that this is a self-perpetuating system?

    Not saying to fire everyone and start from scratch, but definitely look into brining in some new blood–and not just one or two coaches. Maybe several new players, all while having right people looking into what has gone well and not with the current system.

    Indeed, overall, USST has done better in World Cup and WCs in the past several years than they had in the previous decades. Part of the problem (despite the high expectations) is simply a lack of depth at the top. No doubt Kris Freeman, Kikkan Randall, and Andy Newell are great skiers who have skied up with the best at times. But Norway, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Canada, France, Russia each have several at the same level or better.

    I really like marjot’s idea of sending some hopefulls to Europe for extended periods of “schooling” in Nordic skiing. Think of the Lance Armstrong and Greg Lemond models. They wanted to win TDF. Before they got to that level they spent a lot of time in Europe racing with the best for months at time.

    That’s a lot to ask for an 18 to 24 year old, but I’ve also talked to several young US and foreign guest skiers this winter, all of whom have said that it’s totally different world over there. A 2 or 3 week stint at World Juniors or U23s is great; imagine what they could learn over several months a year, over a period of several years.

    And whether they made it or not as Olympic skiers, a few might come back with the knowledge to become future world class coaches.

    Finally, some club systems do seem to be working at a regional level, and this year especially APU sure seems to be doing something right.

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    eastcoastski

    March 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    It is funny that we have to argue over whether or not the system is working. Just think of it like this, if you were a betting man would you put any money on the US finishing on the podium in any world cup?… I think we can all agree there would be a much safer bet out there. So why then would someone keep backing a wounded horse? There is a personal stake in it for them, Ian Harvey has close connections with the US Team obviously.
    As fitausa said, this is not a dig on the athletes, they are great. Only on the failure of the program/coaches that were not able to accomodate the talent of the athletes. Someone else said if this were a company the ceo (coach) would be fired for lack of success, great analogy.

    As well if we are going to keep using Freeman’s diabetes as an excuse for not finishing maybe he is not a reliable athlete to have on the team?

    One thing I know we can all agree on is how much NBC sucks balls. A man can only take so much curling.

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    Eric123

    March 1, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    A few points,
    1.) Elite athletes drop out of races all the time. Bjorn Dahlie dropped out of the 10k at Nagano because it was raining and he was doing poorly. Look at all the world cups over the past 20 years- there are alot of DNF’s at the bottom of the lists- including many top athletes.

    2.) Having the wrong flex skis can easily mean 5% in speed- anyone who skis knows this. Take 5% off Kris’s time in the 15k and he places 15th- in line where he normally is. No one is claiming he would have won the race if he had better skis but just trying to explain why he skied 5% slower than he normally does. Some people have misinterpreted this as making excuses- its not.

    3.)Unfortunately all top athletes have to deal with media BS and criticism- Marit Bjoergen is being called a cheater today for using asthma medication. She had to hire a pr person a couple years ago and was reduced to tears because of public criticism -its nothing new. Hopefully Kris ignores all the BS- he knows it is without merit.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    The plan of living in Europe has been tried before for an extended period of time, and subsequently scrapped. I don’t think this plan was tried hard enough or long enough.

    You can’t argue with the success of cycling athletes choosing to have a home base in Europe. Virtually every successful American Pro-Tour rider has a second or primary home across the pond. Of course every time I bring up the successful cycling model, I get slammed for one reason or another.

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    davidf2d

    March 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Perhaps expectations were raised too high. Isn’t part of the problem is that we the viewers started changing aspirational goals (win medals) into expectations and demands? Maybe the problem is that the talent pool is too shallow? Let’s face it, why would most young men look at Nordic skiing when they can aspire to earn a million $ per year as a second rate bench warmer in any number of pro sports? A lot of this comes down to money. Armstrong and Lemond didn’t pay out of their own pocket, they were paid employees. Racing was their job. To expect parents to foot that kind of expense is to relegate Nordic to the fringes even more. I think most parents already put nearly every dollar they can into their childs development. To think there’s thousands of $$ floating around to pay for devo skiers to live in Europe is a bit pie in the sky. Canada hired a big name foreigner, paid the big bucks and then fired him after one year because he wasn’t fitting in. They then hired Braten. When I asked why a hip injury would end his career the answer was he’ll be unemployed after Vancouver. Because Canada can’t AFFORD him anymore. Don’t be so sure all you need to do is fire a few coaches and medals will come rolling in in 4 years. Sure look at why results weren’t so great. Suspect Vordenberg is already doing that.
    It’s interesting that everyone who writes in slagging the USST with all sorts of wild accusations and insults then get all biblical and freedom of speech when they’re attacked in kind. Sounds like a lot of beer league players thinking they know all about it. They’re adime a dozen at the baseball games ,same here.
    Dave

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    skierout

    March 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I thought NBC’s coverage was good considering the past coverage, lack of US medal potential, and general public interest in XC skiing.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    longtimer also cites a “self perpetuating system”. In many ways this is true, we could look at all the posts from 2006 as well as discussions and debates dating back 30+ years. Many of the same talking points come up over and over again. The theme for the next 4 years should not be “All In” or “All Out”, but rather, “Break the Cycle”.

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    Batwoman

    March 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    First, Kris Freeman is great skier. He is focused and determined, with talent, guts, and the ability to place top in the world. The burden of an olympic medal can not be placed on him. Why do Americans ski so slow in comparison to the rest of the world? Because there is no support. Of the college cross country skiers I raced against only one, Caitlin Compton, made the Olympic team. Was she the fastest American woman in college races? No. Where are they now? Working, raising babies, doing triathlons. They are not spending their lives in altitude tents that they bought, traveling to races, struggling to make the team. This is partly because of our historically poor olympic results. No American woman has ever medaled in cross country. But this is mainly because there is no support. Post-collegiate skiers try training for a couple years. They don’t get the results they expected, they spend all their time working at a ski shop to make ends meet. They realize they don’t like the lifestyle of having no money, or constant travel, of unpredicable results. So they quit ski racing competitively. Look at the results from an NENSA race or from US Nationals. Count the number of women competing who are over the age of 23. You can probably do that on one hand.
    I realize all these commenters are probably men, but US women have an even harder time giving up real life for sports. It’s a vicious cycle, and it will always be very hard to break.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 1, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Exactly Batwoman, no culture for cross country, and indeed, less for women than men. Many factors contribute to the lack of culture and that will make breaking the cycle nearly impossible.

    Many have talked about the USST operating in a vacuum, well look at the Nordic Combined team. Talk about operating in a vacuum! Take two of the most fringe sports you can find and then put them together? And then tap into that vast pool of what?, maybe 20 athletes? And then have success? Wow! That’s on the guys themselves. No system is creating this success, it’s on Spillane, Lodwick and Demong and huge cahones to pull it off. Major congrats to those guys indeed.

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    nyctvt

    March 1, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    All due respect to Kris Freeman but maybe he needs to reinvent himself as a Sprinter/15K Specialist. He may have better luck controlling his blood sugar at the shorter distances resulting in better, more consistent results.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Wow, good posts. Very interesting…especially the POV of a female racer. It’s even worse from that perspective — hadn’t really thought about that angle.

    It would be nice to see a summary of “lessons learned” from the USST and what the initial and long range plans are to go about “breaking the cycle” as Trecker labeled it. They should be held accountable for the way things went in some of the Olympic events and how the program seems to perpetually fall short in general.

    But, if you analyze a little closer, it’s still a little hard to completely blame them 100% — I’ll rehash an earlier post’s observation here: Newell’s crash was unfortunate, because he would have certainly figured better without that incident. And, he’s probably the most sure-footed person on skinny skis in the world, so you KNOW it was dicey.

    Koos looked to be on fire the two weeks before at the WC in Canmore, so what happened to him after that is a mystery even to him — he offered no excuses, just said he couldn’t deliver the way he had been just a couple of weeks before. It was like that the entire Olympics for him. His form sort-of collapsed and thus his ability to deliver in the Olympics. It happens — the body is not a machine. It was the most horrible timing, no doubt, and some very close review needs to take place on that one. He fought like hell though, so you gotta hand it to him.

    Freeman’s woes are well documented. He, himself, offers no “excuses,” but he has been pressed for explanations. He gave the best ones he could and they were well-thought and made complete sense. His reaction to being nervous throws his blood-sugar into a tailspin and he has to change things up for big races. That is scary stuff and I’ll never complain about my jitters before a master’s event ever, EVER again after hearing what he has to deal with. He’s been skiing up with the best all season, so what do you say to something like that?

    Kikkan skied great. She didn’t win a medal, but she was right in there and looked just awesome in the team sprint. Yeah, she needs to work on her classic, but it seems like she’s doing that and it’s showing improvement. Time will tell with her growth as a WC skier. She has the potential and work ethic, so we shouldn’t write her off. I predict that her best is yet to come.

    The rest of the team was very inexperienced and in need of that Euro-level seasoning — but the athletes themselves all deserve kudos: Compton skied to her potential, as did Southam. They both said they weren’t satisfied and are probably going to redouble their efforts to improve on those results. Liz Stephen and Morgan Arritola seemed a little overwhelmed and skied at or just a little below where their respective levels have been. Same for Kuzzy and Hamilton. You just can’t complain about the individual performances.

    So, this is really where the USST needs to critically scrutinize their program. Why is the depth so shallow? Why can we not get the athletes on form at the right time? We need to get more skiers at that level and get them WC-seasoned. We need to get some better understanding of the effects of travel, big event stress, and peaking. From US Supertour to the Olympics is just WAY too big of a step to take.

    Our sport’s ominous black cloud of failure is growing and that is just going to freak out any skier unlucky enough to be put on the national team with any sort of hope of winning a medal in the big events.

    Luckily for Nordic combined, no one paid too much attention to their “relative failures” so much in the past that they all felt like they would be tarred and feathered if they came home empty handed. That one is a catch-22. We have to scrutinize and be critical, but at the same time, be supportive and nurturing.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    The buck stops here!!!!!!!!

    i posted the below 5 day ago and it still holds true. I have posted with similar views for the last 2 years on this site. I am no great sage, just a ski-fan asshole with hopes for this sport I care about.

    “Generally, I think all the skiers have performed exactly where their ability will ever permit them on average, and as expected, save for Newell and Freeman, who have proved they typically ski much better than they have at these Games thus far.

    We just need more, better recruits for the “draft”, simple as that.

    PV was a good skier and an even better coach. You cannot blame the guy for toeing the compnay line – must of us all have been there. If he knocked USSA I am sure Marolt or the Board would have a say. To keep his job and pay his bills, the guy has to report to Marolt/USSA each year to justify a budget from the USSA Alpine/Snowboard sponsorship money and IOC National Governig Body Funds.

    This is the fundemental problem with this whole mess. We esseatnially have an amateur team, with the majority of players happy to have simply made the “team”, and not left off the roster for non-perfomance after two years of not “making it”. Yes, every athlete really wants to win, but very few are capable of doing it annually. Yes, the Olympics are about participation, but year to year WC team should be about only sending those with a relaistic chance of placing well. ”

    “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” – It is the “owners”, not the players and coaches (all doing their best) who are to blame. The USSA is funded via alpine/showboard money and, as good buniess men, know where their ultimate loalties lie – I do not blame them. Do “we” (x-c/jumping community) really need to pay a CEO $250k plus $100k in benfits/retirement per year? “We” need to get our funding and finacial destiny under “our” own control and then concentreate on local and regional devlopment for 8-10 years, and race results (and exposure) will follow, I am sure (could nto be worse!)

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    Nordic Gal

    March 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Share your passion for cross-country skiing! Help grow our sport.

    Have you ever volunteered to help out your local Bill Koch league or at any Nordic event? Have you ever offered to take a few local high school kids to an Eastern Cup Race? Do you take your own children cross country skiing? Don’t have the time –have you donated any $ to help a child or a college student make it to the next level or to support NENSA or USSA? Do you thank the folks that host and the volunteer at the ski events you attend?

    Stop waiting for someone else to do something.

    Frankly it is okay with me that we didn’t win medals in this Olympics because I believe we are getting closer–maybe next time.
    Norway isn’t producing a heck of a lot of basketball players either.

    Heck even dominate alpine country like Austria’s men didn’t bring home a medal!

    Congratulations to Kris and all the members of the US Olypmic Team. Thank you for doing your very best to make your dreams and our dreams come true.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    …I’ve obviously got spare time on my hands today. We have a sick child home from daycare.

    I’m going to get ready to duck and cover after this post. But, another opinion I have about the USST’s program (and the coaches are in on this one) is that maybe they’re focusing too much on the science of exercise physiology. Again, I’m not the expert and I’m just a regular weekend joe-master, so PLEASE take this with a grain of salt…but I do know something about sports physiology and psychology, so hear me now and believe me later…

    I’ve had experience with this when I was on the US cycling team back in the mid-90s. I always trained and raced by feel and got very good at knowing my body, how it felt in various situations, under periods of heavy and light racing and training, and generally what worked best to get me to my best levels. By the time USA Cycling (one famous coach in particular) was done with me, I was almost done myself. I questioned everything and couldn’t intuitively know what was going on anymore. It destablized my own natural rhythm for working my way into form. I lost my intuition about all of that for a couple of years.

    When I left the USA cycling program, I went back to my old-school roots and just did the tried-and-true train and race hard by feel, with ample rest thrown in to rebuild. Going to races became a routine that I was familiar with and it felt natural. I think the Norwegians sort of go with that method more or less, much like the Belgians with cycling. They don’t fear what they’re familiar with.

    When I was on the lab rat program, I felt like a lab rat and raced like a lab rat. Training and racing from the heart, thinking and feeling like a warrior was so much more successful and fun. Thinking about mmols of lactate and % threshold in levels 1,2,3,4,5 becomes the routine when it should be more about the way Kris Freeman raced that 15km classic last year at Liberec or Kikkan’s gutsy win at Rybinsk. The language those two used when describing their races was so much more organic and primal, not how their levels of lactate behaved or whether they were skiing in level 3 or 4 the whole race.

    Again, I’m not an expert, but I do think that we should take a more “git ‘er done” approach. Can we actually ski that hard for a season, year after year? If the USA level 4 isn’t as high as Euro level 4, or is USA level 1,2 too hard, or whatever — don’t we need to look at recalibrating that scale?

    What do the old-school guys think about this? Mike Elliot coaches his son Tad. I’m pretty sure he’s imparting some good advice there — look at that situation: they’re tucked away in the amazing hot-bed of Nordic ski racing, nearly-desert area of Durango, Colorado and Tad is mostly a mountain biker. What is he doing right? Jim Gallanes (sp?) and Bill Koch should be called in to see what they think too. There are some other old-schoolers out there too who I know have some opinions on the subject.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 1, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Again more of the same talking points that have gone on for 30+ years. We can not get out from under USSA. I totally agree with the previous post, however, the IOC only recognizes the FIS for skisport, and the FIS will only recognize USSA for skisport in this country. Fortunately for biathlon, they are free to operate on their own.

    USA cross country is doomed to live the most classic of Americana, the Catch-22. Only the exceptional individual can rise above it. I think the only way out of USSA/USST is if that corporation “fired” cross country, essentially, letting us go. Perhaps a new organization could then be formed to take over the void.

    Worth noting, Cross Country Canada operates independently of their alpine programs and it is clear that this benefits their system. And what about Canadian Jumping and Nordic Combined. Do those programs even exist? Under what NGB?

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 1, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    The Buck Stops Here (USSA)!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 25 years of failure – wake up.

    We can take the NGB and sppnsorship money and steer our sport to success without USSA or Bill Marolts input. Has Bill Marlolt or the the members of the USSA board EVER trained for a year to be a x-c ski racer? the answer is NO!

    We are the last hold out – even figure skating and speed skating and US Luge and Bobslead are sperate entities for gods sake. Stop the stupidity.

    Our regional x-c programs can steer us and provide development without giving x-c sponsorship, IOC/NGB money to Alpine and Snobaording and beggign for handouts. WTF! Elect a persident to represent all, and appoint the head of each regioanl program as a voting board member of the national American Nordic (x-c and jumping) Ski Association.

    By any reasonable measure the curent team ownership/development progrm is not working.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 1, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Wow, lots of posts, obviously my comments about the previous post were intended to comment on “the buck stops here” thread.

    I do like what tclaynm said about training by “feel”. I know that seems antiquated in the modern age, but there is still something to it. The quote, “when I was on the lab rat program, I felt like a lab rat and raced like a lab rat” is especially good.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    USA Cycling, Eddy B..lab rat? noooo. talk to eric kieter on that one (ha ha – “just a vitaman shot..nothing more…” or “Hogan, I saw noooothinng” – just kidding. Taking cycling as example, when pro ranks demanded, USA Cycling was reduced to “amateur league” as a stepping stone to “the bigs”, as it should be!

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    lsiebert

    March 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Keeping up with these comments is like a full time job. Some interesting points here. This is a totally useless comment as I have no idea what to think. But I think we should be proud of our athletes for what they have accomplished, while there have been disappointments, there have also been some bright spots. The world will not end because of a bad Olympic performance.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    The USST athletes did fine, as did coaches and techs! They finished exactly where expected (except Newell and Freeman who had bad races, as can happen in this game).

    We just need to had over management of development and funding to those who care and have a personal vested interest in the sport(s).
    Luke, NENSA,APU,CXC,SVSEF, Caldwell(s), Koch, Galanes(s)m Vordenberg, Faram etc, etc, who really care, should run our sport, not a board of NYC and San Francisco hedge fund/realeastate/insurance moguls advised by an Aspen family realestate magnet who never, ever competed at even an amateur level of x-c ski racing.

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    JustinFereshetian

    March 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    One of the major road blocks for American’s to podium at the Olympic level is first off the amount of involvement is very small (via racing, coaching, volunteering, spectating, the list goes on.) If people aren’t involved it makes it really hard to improve. How often do you hear about 50,000 fans pouring onto the trails to watch a nordic ski race here in the US? Also we have very little funding. One reason why the Norwegians are so dominant is because they have both of these things, a huge base of involvement as well as a lot of funding. Things would be a lot different in the US if we had the same money to throw at the skiers as we do for the baseball, basketball, and football players. The US ski team did the best they could with the limited resources they had at hand. We just need more support, and a lot of it.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    “Mr. Marolt, please cut x-c skiing free, we can do it, we are not really dumb – what are you afraid of”?

    The USSA and US x-c ski team are two very differnt entities (just google ‘ussstfoundation’), but one funds the other.

    The US x-c ski team/coaches/atheltes are awesome and dedicated, but they are screwed by the reduced NGB/IOC/factory funding allocated them by USSA, especially given a significant amount of current USSA overhead could be placed with regional develpoment/sport introduction if NGB status were given to the regional programs as a collective.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    As i have opined, the USST x-c ski team (athletes, coaches, techs) are awesome and doing best they can with recruits and funding provided.

    Again, the USST athelets, coaches, techs are doing a good job! No complaints by my fat ass here.

    It is is the team/u.s x-c ski community fund provider (USSA, USSA, USSA,USSA, and USSA) that has failed after 25 years.

    USSA, NOT the USST x-c, is at fault.

    As Silent Cal said….
    “The Buck Stops Here” – this is not a difficult concept to grasp in other sports.

    I believe we need developmet, not admisitration.

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    skipow

    March 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    THERE ARE A MILLION GUYS WHO WOULD LINE UP FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SKI THE OLYMPIC 50K…

    ..and Freeman was just too cool to finish it because he wasn’t in the lead group… I can’t support that.

    sad.

    It’s the olympics… finish the damn race.

    If the NY Yankees didn’t make the playoffs– heads would roll. Because the fans care…

    If The US Ski Team doesn’t perform–heads should roll!
    Americans should be pissed. It shows that we care.
    Dissent is the mother of Ascent.

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    firesnow

    March 1, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Everyone getting all fired up about this one. Good to see some passion!
    The sad fact is that until the x-c equivalent of a Greg LeMond or Lance Armstrong comes along, to give the European ski nations sleepless nights, Americans will always struggle against the traditional powerhouses of the sport.
    Congrats to Devon Kershaw on his great ski.
    To skipow, b/c of the poor showing of the Russians the President of Russia today told the heads of the Russian Olympic Programs if they did not resign in writing, he would fire them.

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    2PACmosDEF

    March 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Pete Vordenberg’s probably going to deny all defeat. He’ll say something “we had a great games; made great progress” He’ll cite the NoCo success and go on about Simi Hamilton’s future. Truth is, Simi Hamilton has no future. Andy Newell got on his first World Cup podium when he was YOUNGER than Simi is now. Not trying to take away anything from Newell, but he hasn’t been that guy that the USST has insisted Simi Hamilton will turn into.
    We need a new outlook on US nordic in general.

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    2PACmosDEF

    March 1, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    And don’t be hate’n on Kris Freeman, he’s still a shitload faster than you all will EVER be.

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    vinner

    March 2, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Are you kidding 2PAC? Newell has enjoyed golden boy status for the US Team since he was “dominating” JOs. Simi has never had real support from the US team. He was only begrudgingly allowed on this Olympic team despite WINNING Nationals, I am confident that he would have still won even had Newell showed. But why should the US Team have to prove themselves at their own Nationals like they do in Norway or Sweden? The point is that the US Team has a propensity to anoint a J1 as the next Koch as soon as he/she makes Scandos and then they are on the team for life. Meanwhile, kids who actually might get faster as they get older are left completely on the outside. The US Team would rather not have to admit a mistake than take a faster skier. Is it any wonder that the best skiers on the US usually are not on the US team. It almost like saying that being a fast J1 isn’t the end-all indicator.
    The point is really not to bash US skiers. The point is that I expect and believe we can be better, just not with the system we have. And that system won’t change as long as the same people are in charge.

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    John C

    March 2, 2010 at 12:32 am

    In 30 plus years of this on going discussion of why we as an XC ski nation are not Norway or Russia, I have seen so many arguments and reactions to events come and go. Mostly it is one faction taking their shot at another. Well intended or not the grass is always greener. We go along with a system that mirrors other nations, and then just as a group is starting that incremental clime to moderate successes, we throw the baby out with the bath water, and here we go again.

    The first question is do we need or want to be like other nations? Can we be? With Bill Koch and the rest of that group also came the XC ski boom. I had the chance to see these guys train and race, and I feel in love with this sport. Where did their success lead us? They had success. They had contact with foreign skiers and coaches. They had a regional system that developed them. They had limited funding. It was concentrated on their success. Then came the real vacuum. The gap to the next group that was successful, because so much was invested in the success of the few.

    This is due to limited numbers. The base of participants and supporters of this sport is broad in many nations, but not here. We need to grow it, so the numbers work, or adapt an attitude and program that reflects the current and past realities of our sport in this nation. To be one of the big ski nations we would need to grow the numbers of recreational skiers, feeder programs, educational programs, ski racers, coaches, people with high caliber experience, money, retention, etc. Time, money and experience coupled with a little innovation is what makes programs good. What makes them great and enduring is expectations being met by a good system that has resources, and the chance to evolve, and which reflects the real situation on the ground.

    What we may all need to face is that we may very well be a nation that at its best in this sport will have moments of success, provided by extraordinary individuals, who should be a source of pride for us all. Ask people from successful nations why they are successful, and you get different answers from them. From the outside we can say that Russia (USSR) had the greatest feeder program ever, and whittled down millions of skiers to a select few. Scandinavians use club competition and cultural and social focus to create champions. The two methods come down to exceptional resource availability verses volume. With millions of skiers to chose from you can have a few survive to be the best, or with fewer skiers, but great support for them, you will have a few come through to shine.

    On the World Cup level we are what I would call a second tier nation; we have some people with some very good results, and they should be congratulated for their successes. Next we might hope to have enough good skiers to compete in all the World Cup events each year with consistent and high results. A team that can hold its own at the Olympics is a step beyond that. These steps represent magnitudes of funding and resource jumps.

    Like any good organization retention is the key. Did Gunde get Sweden back on track, or maybe the new corporate model? It may reek of nepotism, but keeping your best trained and educated to help develop your future is important at any level. We have not done this well. We keep some, but most move on to other lives.
    All-in-all ask the kids competing for a birth on any team what they want and it hasn’t changed over the years; A fair competition, and a well defined standard to meet to qualify. Transparency, and the Olympic ideal are good guidelines.

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    muskegflyer

    March 2, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Regarding the comment by David on Bratten’s role with the Canadian team. Believe me, 99% of the work was done by the time he arrived on the scene. To suggest otherwise is an insult to the coaching staff, wax team and especially, the athletes If there is any possible way to get USA X-C out on its own indpendant footing then do it NOW!!! We in Canada have the same issues challenging us regarding the attraction, training and development of competitive cross country racers. However, the few outstanding individuals who have broken through have made the sport far more attractive to youngsters.

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    skipow

    March 2, 2010 at 7:18 am

    He is a faster skier than I, currently… but I think I might be a better musician.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 2, 2010 at 9:05 am

    73 and counting, let’s go for 100! JC and Marty Hall as well as all of the old timey tradition brings much to the discussion. Too bad nobody’s listening. I think this vacuum is why everybody is so bent.

    – Look at last spring’s debacle when USSA couldn’t pay the SuperTour bonuses at the end of the season. USSA also claimed to have awarded a million dollars in a few seasons, however, credit goes to the local organizers on that one, not USSA. United States has increased it’s grass roots organization 10 fold since the creation of the NNSEF perhaps 15 years ago at this point, but support from the top has eroded during that time.

    – Also, USSA is a joke as far as cross country is concerned. Lift served sport has no use for cross country except as an alternative for the wives of a few Richie Riches that don’t slide downhill. The USSA foudation is a major problem. I see kids wearing USA suits with logos all over them knowing full well that they are not getting support from these companies, Audi? Charles Schwab? Those companies are not contributing to our cause yet we are wearing their stuff?

    – One point about depth of talent. How is it that Italy with a poor base and USA Nordic Combined with an even weaker base, can have success?

    – Simi Hamilton does indeed have a future. He is so pure on the skis it’s incredible, his level of talent supercedes all of his peers. In my opinion he is the best downhiller on xc skis since Gunde the Great and he can flat out hammer. You watch.

    – Team selection. Too many skiers feel entitled to go to the Olympics and World Championships based on their standing on the points list and given how hamstrung the coaching staff is on team selection. Look at the Italian road cycling team. Franco Ballerinini, R.I.P., had carte blanche in selecting his charges for the Worlds road race. He played his hunches and has kept several qualified racers from participating becase they weren’t likely to be team players. Those selected feel more weight of responsibility to perform on race day, they feel the weight of a nation and of their compatriots who were left off the squad. This pressure has created unity among the team and the Squadra are always the favorites. Now look at U.S. Cross Country. Everyone knows they are going to the big show, they’ve made it! Yea! However, business is not done yet. Let’s look at Simi Hamilton, he had arguably the best result, racing above his head, in the classical sprint. Simi was drafted late into the team and even passed over Chris Cook, who has had better classical sprint results than Simi. Do you think that the weight of responsibility helped Simi on race day? I sure do. However, those that knew they were going no matter what from a year out, I’m not so sure. I think once some of them made the team selection, sub-conciously, they were satisfied. Rebecca Dussault even stated ahead of time that her goal was to make the Olympics, no goal of a result once she was there. I think this attitude is quite prevalent. U.S. skiers on the 2nd tier merely want to make the team. They have no designs on dominating the World. They don’t believe they can, so they aim much lower.

    On that, CHEERS to all after a great athletic festival. It was sure fun to watch. And yes, for me, it’s still a bit of a bummer and not massive dissapointment. I won’t be super dissapointed until our collective results go way up and we suffer a greater let-down. I respect all of our staff and athletes to the utmost. It is still baffling to me that anyone is even trying, given how much they are up against. Great job people and especially to the Canadian men’s team, Wow!! CHEERS!

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    caldxski

    March 2, 2010 at 10:07 am

    My name is John Caldwell and I am not the John C who has posted some comments above. However, this note of mine may help us reach 100!

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    skierout

    March 2, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Trecker, your argument on Team Selection is complete bunk. It just sounds like you have a man crush on Simi.

    It makes no sense. It’s complete speculation of what the athletes are thinking, even sub-conciously. You think Simi had more “weight of responsibility” than Newell, Freeman, or Randall? Speaking of Cook, he qualified 16th in Torino and found himself sprinting in Madison rather than Whistler. Where will Simi be in 4 years? Olympic Podium or SuperTour Podium?

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    skierout

    March 2, 2010 at 11:28 am

    The average US place in all individual events at Whistler?

    41

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    Mike Trecker

    March 2, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I’ve got a crush on the whole team.

    Personally, I would have left Simi at home and taken Cook, but just look at how good the coach’s hunch worked out and it may pay off in 4 years. I won’t predict results at this time.

    Of course it’s speculation as to what an athlete is thinking or feeling. Nevertheless, psychology is a major factor in performance and should be explored. Let’s examine Kris a little further. He stated that he races the best when he’s pissed off. But doesn’t extreme anger affect the adrenal glands and in turn, perhaps affect blood sugar? Maybe a little Zen for Freeman would be better for the distance races. An earlier post suggested that Kris may be better off re-inventing himself as a sprinter/10k/15k specialist. Perhaps this is true.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 2, 2010 at 11:55 am

    As everyone has already summed up, the fact of the matter is that the USST (xc) has put all of their eggs in too few baskets. I suppose it could be that they have far too limited resources to support enough on the WC level. It should have been recognized earlier that skiers like Simi Hamilton and Caitlin Compton (among others) should have been skiing on the WC (or at least Europa) all along, right along with Kikkan, Andy, Torin, Kris & Co. Chris Cook is just now getting settled into the WC and needs a little more “Cooking” time there. He just started to demonstrate improvement — but who knows how far he can get.

    With our limited resources, we need to figure out how to maximize results. Earlier, I mentioned the over-focus on all of that science stuff. Man, I’ll bet we could have gone to a lot more races and had more racers getting the valuable experience they need with the budget spent on all of that crazy equipment in Park City. It’s cool and all, and maybe we learned some stuff, but do you think Andrus Veerpalu and Jaak Mae used stuff like that when they were driving all over Scandanavia in a Soviet-made Zaporozhets clunker to get to all of the races they could so that they could improve? I highly doubt it.

    We need to get some toughness, hunger and experience built into the team — think about the Estonian and other low-budget Eastern European teams here. The athletes we have are great and the coaches know what they’re doing, but they’re gonna need to get down to basics and get more skiers out there to build the program up to Euro standards. The only way to do that is to get more skiers exposed to that world.

    The USST should buy or rent some Spartan, cheap place near the Holmenkollen trails as a base of operations for a whole season and have skiers competing in Norwegian races regularly and traveling from there to the big races in Europe. They need to be immersed eye-ball deep in the real world of xc ski racing and get hardened up to what it really takes. They would be able to weed out those who can’t handle Euro life and Euro-level xc ski racing, not to mention the lack of light. It is often suprising who can suddenly rise up when faced with some adversity like that.

    This is how the USA has created cycling stars that can kick butt on the world level. They/we had to serve time in dank, squalid conditions in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, etc. If you’re hanging on by a thread over there and each race means a meal ticket or bust, then you develop a warrior mentality. The Estonians know about that, for sure.

    Alright, sorry to keep driveling on about all of this stuff. I’ve wasted WAY too much cyberspace and everyone’s time, including my own.

    I’m actually quite proud of our team, and hope they can pull it together to have the races they’re capable of.

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    jmeserve

    March 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Maybe the Cobert Nation could fund it?

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    jrulseh

    March 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I’m not going to take the time to read all of these comments, and just want to see this reach 100!
    Way to go USA, getting medals in the nordic events this year! Let’s hope that Cross Country will see the same success that Nordic Combined has in the future!

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    jmeserve

    March 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    fitausa – Feb 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    It is really too bad that Freeman would drop out on what could be his last Olympic race ever. Who cares if your skis were terrible so were everyone elses, that is not the Olympic spirit. What is he saving himself for, this was the Olympics, the pinnacle of all sports?
    Way to go Southam you should be proud. As well, Simi had a great Olympics. It is odd the two best male skiers, and even the best female skier in this Olympics, don’t train with the US team exclusively. Simi is at Sun Valley, Southam and Randall at APU. Maybe it is time for a coaching/system change for the US Cross-Country. Newell should have won a medal by now, maybe some change in his training/coaching is in order.
    APU should start a Team America thing if there is not going to be a change.
    2birkieturkey – Mar 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

    right on fitausa. “My coaches said if I was out of it early, they wanted me to stop.” freeman – this is the freaking biggest race of your life. this is the olympics 50 km. this is the olympic race that your coaches have been hyping to the xc community for 4 years that you were going to be a podium threat in. and now you let them talk you into dnfing just because you weren’t going to make the podium!? why didn’t southam quit when he realized he wasn’t making the podium? probably because southam can think for himself. this was the most depressing usst xc olympics showing ever. like fitausa said – it’s a good thing randall, southam and simi train away from the usst more than with them. crack pot vordenberg needs to go. and he should take the usst girls other than randall with him. they all got their butts kicked by a girl with a full time job – holly. and freeman – maybe taking some time off, get healthy, go to school and get a life would be a good thing to do for a year or two. or maybe more.
    3rick – Mar 1, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Not everyone will agree with the two comments above. Kris had some very hard events earlier and was probably drained. Other good racers, who knew they were not in the running, “tossed in the towel” and saved it for a better day. That is the wise thing to do.
    Showing guts is fine, but is not always the smartest plan. With World Cup races in the future it doesn’t do any good to “whip a dead hourse.”
    Lets hope Kris can rest up and have some good races in March.
    4deanerbeano – Mar 1, 2010 at 3:15 am

    I would just like to point out that Kris Freeman has type 1 diabetes. thats not “oh I shouldn’t eat that” diabetes. Thats “mismanage your insulin and you could slip into a coma while you sleep” diabetes. If the guy says somethings not right with his body, he knows. I think it’s pretty rich hearing you masterblasters rip into this guy, as if he’s not the most disappointed person on the planet with his performances. As if he hadn’t put his life on hold for over a decade to chase his dreams. The guy doesn’t make excuses, he’s competitive as hell and he’s one of our best despite the fact that any sane person would have quit over 10 years ago in the interest of their own health. Bird, you’re an inspiration.
    5kaiser – Mar 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

    wow guys cut freeman some slack. Not only did he finish the 30km after a huge blood sugar fiasco he also fought hard in the other races. and he did not throw in the towel because he was not going to make the podioum, he stopped skiing because he was having a bad race. their is nothing you can do about that and unlike 15 km where you can just HTFU till the finish a 50km can really screw you up for weeks if you push your self when you are feeling bad. And so what if this might be his last race at the olympics. it was smart of him to go out and save himself for the late season world cups, even if the general public does not give a crap about them. So america had a bad olympics but you should not take out your anger on Freeman because he bailed on the hardest race of the season. it was a smart call by him and hopefuly he will be up on top form later this year.
    6John C – Mar 1, 2010 at 9:54 am

    As a NH resident and a guy who first met Kris when he was in grade school, I am proud of Kris and the growth and maturity that he shows. It is in sharp contrast to the insight and temperament elicited by several of those commenting on his Olympic experience. This kid has done more in his career then his circumstances would ever portend, and with his diabetes a bonk isn’t just a bad day, it is an acidosis pain fest, with instant disorientation. Listen to his interviews now and from years ago. See how he handles himself. Watch Kris ski, and realize that this kid wants more than you could imagine to win, and his life, even is future health and well being are being put on the chopping block to accomplish his goals. He may not have it all figured out, but he’s a lot closer than the rest of us have gotten. Go Kris!
    7ianharvey – Mar 1, 2010 at 10:18 am

    OK, here are my thoughts.
    1. If you don’t have something positive to say, keep your mouth shut. Why? Because you are not contributing anything useful. Those who are actually working to help our top athletes have a right to comment as they are pulling with our athletes. It is simply not right for someone on his high horse to trash our coaches and athletes without knowing anything about it except that our results were disappointing. Either help our situation or keep your darned mouth shut.
    2. From what I know, ALL of the athletes are extremely happy (grateful and excited even) for the coaching that they have received from the USST coaching staff. I am of the opinion that training at home with your home club works better for some people as has been demonstrated time and again. Some people are more resilient and can be uprooted to Park City and continue to grow though. Regardless, the current USST coaching staff is knowledgeable, tireless, creative, and we are be lucky to have them. They are also careful to foster great cooperation with the clubs that some of our top athletes come from.
    3. OK, so why were our results poor? Southam has made great progress (good). Simi made great progress (good). Kikkan had a banner Olympics, especially considering that the individual sprint was in the classic technique (good). Freeman had a tough one. I think the reasons for this have been clearly documented and were there out in the open for all to witness – blood sugar issues for the last two races and for the first one, his big opportunity, bad luck with the snow fall coupled with probably the wrong skis. That sucks and I feel for him. Don’t lay this on on the USST coaches, he has been in great form this season and I believe still is. Give him a 10 or 15k with decent conditions to prove himself and he will come through. Newell’s fall – are you really going to try to lay this one on the coaching staff? Again, this sucks and I totally feel crushed for him. He has the ability, was there and ready to kill it, and just made a dumb mistake. The guy has worked too hard (like Freeman) to put up with your crap. Koos – 2nd fastest qualifier in the World Cup before the games which was easily his best result of the season. Clearly his coaches had him going in the right direction. Sucks that he didn’t get past the qualifier, but he had a good chance to do well (don’t lay this one on the coaches, he was prepared). We have others on the team too who are great and whose results went unnoticed.
    4. The bottom line is that these athletes ARE the best that we have and normally they are darned good. Crapping on them isn’t going to do anything except hurt them. They are our best. Let’s sustain and support them and try to do whatever we can do to help them to the top. Cutting them down especially during the Games is nothing but MALICIOUS. These athletes, who are our best, really want to work with the current coaching staff. OK, so accept this, pray or wish for better fortune the next time around (or maybe find a more tangible way to support our elite skiers) and if you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say anything.
    5. I do recognize the need for a discussion on how we can progress as a ski nation. This is not appropriate to do DURING the games. Nor are 99% of you guys qualified to contribute. You don’t understand the situation at all except that the results are not satisfactory to you. Just keep quiet, wish them well, try to be supportive, and leave it to those who are actually involved somewhat.
    8fitausa – Mar 1, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for your thoughts Harvey. Try and make your response longer next time, someone must have hit a sore spot. Keeping your mouth shut will not help accomplish anything. We live in a democracy for a reason, not a dictatorship. We need all this out in the open to make the USST the best. Back room deals rarley work. The frustration is directed at a program that has had lacluster results for 10 years, I believe the athletes are capable of more, I obviously have more faith in our athletes to perform then Harvey. Yes I understand Freeman has diabetes, that is much harder to deal with, however going into a race and thinking droping out is a good option will never result in a good finish. I am not crapping on our athletes just the coaches.
    9ianharvey – Mar 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

    “We need all this out in the open to make the USST the best”. This is what you wrote. What is “out in the open” now that wasn’t something that we are aware of before? You act like you have some kind of insider info and we are all being done the favor of your wisdom.
    There is a constant dialog between the USST and the coaches in the US. There is also a conference every spring where coaches come and we plan as a country how to improve. This all has been happening for years and is in no way a “back room deal”.
    You also wrote, “keeping your mouth shut will not help accomplish anything”. Actually I disagree. I think keeping YOUR mouth shut is a great first step.
    10skierout – Mar 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

    This is how the USST begins operating in a vacuum. If you don’t coach at APU, SVSEF, CXC, etc, and pass on excuses after bad races, then we don’t want to hear it. If you don’t agree with what we are doing, then shut up. Only people with similar thinking to us will be heard.
    This is the nature of the beast of online anonymous comments. If comments are clearly uninformed, then ignore them. If they still bite a little, then maybe there’s some truth to it. It is humorous to watch supporters like Ian ride in on their high horse trying to knock others off of theirs.
    I hope the USST takes an open-minded approach to improve their preparation for the next World Championships and Olympics.
    11skifree – Mar 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Wow fitausa, your comments are quite interesting. I’m wondering what your personal history is with cross country skiing. You seem to be quite confident about what is and what is not working, so you must hold all the answers. Please, tell us all what the secret is. Do you race? Do you coach? With your comments I sure hope you do at least one of these and I hope you’re one of the best in the country because then your perspective might actually be relevant. If not then you really should just continue being a spectator and keep your mouth shut because you obviously don’t know what it takes to coach and compete at the Olympic level.
    12NordicSkier17 – Mar 1, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I certainly believe in free speech but I think you have to cut Kris some major slack on his results in Vancouver. Kris is a Type 1 diabetic and while he is not one to make excuses, I believe blood sugar issues were a major factor in each of his races. Kris is an amazing athlete to accomplish everything he has with Type 1 Diabetes in the most physically demanding sport in existence. I’d give my right arm to be able to ski half as well as Kris.
    13ianharvey – Mar 1, 2010 at 11:42 am

    You start out by saying how the USST operates in a vacuum. Then you list the clubs that the USST obviously cooperates with at a high level and listens to. You have to say “etc” because there are so many (and yes, you left many out). Doesn’t that contradict the vacuum accusation? It is simply not true. Go to a coaches conference or even talk with the USST staff (any of them) and you will see something totally different from what you think.
    I do recognize that some athletes seem to be better training at home with their home clubs. This is definitely the case for many of our elite skiers. I think that this is normal as most of these kids have support networks and “home cooking” that really works for them. It is this support that got them noticed in the first place. This is a totally different subject than what has been thrown out there which was more in the line of, “the USST coaches suck and this is why our athletes didn’t perform”.
    14eastcoastski – Mar 1, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Freeman is a cocky and this is why people hate on him. I don’t think fitausa has to all wrong he is challenging our USA program to be better. Much like all the Norge press was doing when Northug didn’t do well in the 15k. If we keep agreeing the US team is doing well these results will continue. Fitausa don’t worry about Ian everyone talks behind his back and thinks he is a joke. That said I would suggest to look at people’s arguements, are you a coach, who cares we all can read. I would agree we need new coaches try and hire internationally we could steal some coaches from good programs. The sore spot had been hit and the excuses are flying now!!
    15skifree – Mar 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    eastcoastski, what does reading have to do with being a knowledgeable coach (“…are you a coach, who cares we all can read.”)? Maybe you should look at your own argument because I’m not really seeing a logical one in your post.
    16Hacker – Mar 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I am neither a coach or a competitive racer. I am just a fan and ski enthusiast. Before the games, all the ski disciplines raised our hopes that they would do well. Now that the games are over, it seems like all the disciplines – except cross country – delivered the goods at some level. If this were a company, they would likely fire them all – coaches and skiers who did not deliver – and start again. Maybe in sports there is another approach.
    17davidf2d – Mar 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    There were lots of skiers, men and women who dropped out of the marathon races. To struggle along, just to be heroic is dumb. First Freeman is slagged for not producing results, then he’s slagged for not plugging along despite everything going badly. Seems like some just want to slag him and the USST in general. Becky Scott said her disaster at Nagano taught her that skiing at the Olympics is different than skiing in other competitions. Be careful who you blast unless you have more to offer than fire the coach, Alaska should separate.
    Dave
    18skierout – Mar 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I was referring to the potential of the team to begin operating in a vacuum in response to some negative comments. I agree that the team has been very open in the past by sending information to the general public and receiving info from programs that I mentioned.
    I am suggesting that the people who “really matter” or “actually know something” take these comments with a grain of salt. I hope they do not become hypersensitive and close doors in the future.
    19RonBott – Mar 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    “Nor are 99% of you guys qualified to contribute.”
    This kind of elitism is unfortunate and not helping the progress of XC skiing in the US at all.
    20ianharvey – Mar 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Let me just say that I am glad that when I was striving as an athlete to make my mark for the USA in the world scene, there wasn’t a forum available for anonymous people to take pot shots at me and my support team such as coaches and teamates.

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    Marjot

    March 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    It appears that the comments here are falling into four broad catagories:
    1. Congratulating our 2010 XC skiing Olympians for doing thier best and making it very interesting to closely follow their performances.
    2. Condeming team members for not winning medals.
    3. Condeming the “system” for not “improving” competitive XC Skiing in the USA
    4. Suggesting new approaches that would provide more opportunities for development of all of the USA top skiers at the World Cup level by hardening in the European circuit for a few seasons before racing head to head in multiple races for Team Selection for 2014.
    With all the defensive and nasty comments posted here under the guise of “insider experience” few will ferrett out the constructive comments that might actually make a difference for USA XC racers in international performance.
    Could Faster Skier start a forum for constructive comments and suggestions on USA Team development only?

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    joeconn4

    March 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    In the “suggesting a new approach” category, does anyone else think that maybe the US lost an opportunity to produce even better results in the women’s 30k and men’s 50k by not racing these events tactically? I’d say the results Randall and Southam achieved in these events were among the Nordic team’s best of the entire games. But could some different racing have produced even better results?

    Bear with me for a second…We started 3 women and 2 men in these events. I don’t know if there was a limit to how many slots the US was allowed in these events but I notice many nations with 4 starters in each of these races. I’m going to assume the US had the ability to start 4 and 4, but looking at Newell, Koos, Kuzzy, Hamilton, Compton, and Stephens the coaches decided none would have an impact in the longer events so best to just move on. Instead of that, why not have started Kuzzy, Hamilton and Compton (for example) and used them to cover any breaks that went away and to purely race tactically. I’m not saying they all have the ability to do that, but if you told Kuzzy that his job was to sit with the lead pack for 30-35k and protect Freeman (or Southam) and that he wasn’t expected to finish the 50k, I bet he’d work his butt off to make that happen. And in the end I bet we’d end up higher in the results for racing that way. If you watched the 50k start, the back 1/3 of the pack literally came to a stop about 45 seconds into the race on the first uphill left turn. In the 30k pursuit, Ben Koons got squeezed out and raced up to the front. To me, this indicates that opportunity exists to put one of your skiers in front to control the pace, to some degree.

    I started thinking this way when I saw the way the Swedes raced earlier in the games. Coming into Vancouver who would have predicted Sweden to have better results than Norway? IMO Sweden got it done by racing smarter than Norway. When you look at Norway’s results (men’s side anyway) and how the racing went down it appears that a lot of their medal success was on Northug’s back to close down gaps with his tremendous finishing speed. With Sweden, it appears they put more thought into HOW to put themselves in position to win medals.

    Does anyone know for sure how many the US could have started in those events? Was this scenario even a possibility?

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    lsiebert

    March 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    The US could have started 4 athletes in every event, assuming they had low enough FIS points, which I believe all the athletes did. That said, a tired out Newell or Hamilton or Kuzzy probably wouldn’t have been able to hang with the pack for 30-35k even. They put the two athletes in with the expectations that they would perform up to their ability.

    Another thing I really don’t understand is the people criticizing Freeman for dropping out because he wasn’t going to have a strong result. You have to realize, for these racers, the Olympics are not the sole focus of their existence. They race World Cups week in and week out (or at least Freeman/Newell/Koos/Randall do), and gaining World Cup points, potential prize money from World Cups, etc is FAR more important than gutting out a 35th place finish at the Olympics. We are taking the Olympics to be the absolute most important thing there is. Fact is, there are people with World Cup podiums this season who didn’t race at the Olympics.

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    skierout

    March 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    On Freeman dropping out of the 50km…It’s fine with me, but why didn’t he drop out of 15k as well using that logic? Instead, he gutted his way through. People praised him for not giving up in the 15 and blasted Petter for throwing in the towel. Which one worked?

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    skierout

    March 2, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    On team tactics for the US…

    Maybe someone can help me understand better as I am not that familiar with bike racing. How would having Kuzzy in the lead pack for the first 20km help Southam? I doubt pushing the pace would have helped Southam. And I doubt he would have slowed it down. I’m curious how would Kuzzy be able to protect Southam in that situation? It seems like he would just be another guy trying to hang on.

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    lsiebert

    March 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Skierout- Freeman didn’t have that sort of game plan going into the 15k. Also, a 15k doesn’t shell you like a 50k does.

    The dropping out of the 50k was on coaches advice. I seriously doubt Freeman would have done so on his own-see the 30k for evidence.

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    OldManWinter

    March 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I’ll throw in my two centavos for the sake of helping us get to 100:

    Full disclosure, before anyone leaps down my throat: I belong to a club, volunteer youth coach, drive kids and wash skanky synthetics. I have also housed and fed traveling athletes and cut check$. If anyone venting here has not done any of the above, you should. I can’t say it better than Jon Engen did in the 09/10 Master Journal ‘…we are the national program…’ (I’m paraphrasing, but its all in there). It’s up to us, folks…no one is going to do it for us.

    Ok, so we deliver young skiers to the collegiate level…then what? Unfortunately, not much…for a number of reasons all stated above in other posts.

    Sadly, I’ve lived long enough to remember Bill Koch and Martha Rockwell (how many of us even remember US skiing’s first lady?) and all the promise that generation held. I’m past the point of unconditionally supporting everything our national program does, but the remedy doesn’t reside solely there. The whole system, including (but not limited to) our pipeline, post-collegiate support structures and coaching need a power-washing. My takeaway from the games is that WE CAN DO IT. The nordic combined, ladies and mens bobsled teams (albeit 60 years later) proved to me that we can. I don’t know what it costs to take a James Southam out of circulation for four years and keep him on skis, but we need five more like him and their six sisters – and none of them should have to worry about paying the oil bill while they’re doing it. We need to find a way to make it happen, but none of it happens without our support.

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    joeconn4

    March 2, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    skierout – re: team tactics…watching the last Nordic Combined race where Demong/Spillane went 1-2, didn’t it appear that Lodwick was basically blocking the chase group so no one could bridge up? Sure looked like it to me. On all the little uphills where momentum could move a chaser forward, Lodwick got to the front of that group and appeared to sort of check his speed.

    My idea with Kuzzy, or any of the others, would be to have that skier slow things down earlier, when possible, so that the gaps didn’t open up. Another possibility would be to have someone basically ski pace for Freeman or Southam, lead them along and keep them in contact for as long as possible. Let’s say Freeman could have worked 2% less hard, would it have been possible that he would have avoided the bonk?

    If Koons can get to the front in the pursuit that tells me the pace (at times) in these mass starts is such that anyone in the field can get to the front if they so choose. No disrespect to Koons, but I believe Kuzzy is a stronger skier, based off their college post-college results.

    I saw Dartmouth do team racing at the Bates Carnival last year when one of their skiers broke a ski off the mass start. Their other guys went to the front and slowed the field down and within 6-7k the skier who had been almost a minute down out of the gate was back in the lead pack. Watching the way Sweden’s men skied in the 30k pursuit and the US Nordic Combined team skied in the Large Hill/10k I feel like team tactics are going to start being more important-would love to see the US get ahead of the curve on this one.

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    sluggingsammy

    March 2, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Let’s not let ourselves be distracted from our underlying weakness: fitness and too few of people with it.

    Creating better administrations, more support for post-collegiate skiers, etc, will certainly help – but they are not requirements nor do they guarantee success. Whatever system exists, the only requirement is for the athlete to believe in a lot of hard training and to get out there and get it done everyday. No magic, no secrets, just a lot of hard work done by those in arena. We should keep this in mind as we brainstorm overly complicated solutions.

    As a challenge, can anyone name a skier in this country who has trained more than 700 legitimate ski training hrs for multiple years without improving to at least national class?

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    FlintHillsXC

    March 3, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Well with the goal of reaching 100 comments, here are some disjointed thoughts (no time to make them coherent …)

    I’m a member of the “Outer” ski community (and I love that term from #34) who’s just gotten back into the sport after about two decades away from it. And what I love is that back-or-the-racing-pack participants like me can get to know people in the elite community that includes the very best athletes (and not just online). I mean, can you imagine the best professional baseball players and their coaches sharing thoughts in a forum such as this, or participating in Citizen events? It’s worth some sniping here and there.

    So that said, I will say that as an Outer, I do sometime sense a certain unfortunate “well you don’t know what you’re talking about attitude” from the inner community. I mean, knowledge of racers’ performances aside (and I agree most people are probably clueless here about what takes place on race day), just to give you a small example, imagine getting back into the sport after 20 years. Where would you go to learn about waxing? Why, for example, is there no introductory guide to waxing on FS? There are great things happening out there in our sport — I know for example that this year’s races in SLC had a record number of Juniors, and the recent good snow years will surely help. But I think we could all do a lot more to get new people into the sport.

    I don’t know anything about the politics of the USSA and why nordic can’t get a divorce, and I agree that there is no replacement for hard work, but it still comes down to “No Bucks, No Buck Rogers,” as someone said in the movie the Right Stuff. There’s been a lot of talk here about the need for more money, but not that many specific suggestions. So I ask everyone: how can we raise more money? There’s a ton out there, even in this economy. Someone mentioned the Colbert Report in good fun, but seriously, why shouldn’t we be thinking about nontraditioanl sources of funds like that? C’mon, this isn’t exactly a poor person’s sport. I bet we could walk into any downhill lodge in Aspen or Jackson at anytime and find a multi-millionaire willing to help the Alpine team … are you telling me that 1% of those folks didn’t xc in boarding school and wouldn’t be willing to help? (Surely some CEO wants us to have a plane like the Swedes, with his face on it!). And there’s a lot more we could do to connect the casual XC skier — and there are how many thousands out there? — with the US ski team. Why doesn’t the Park City brass get a fundraising brochure into every Nordic lodge across the country? And for that matter, it doesn’t exactly show an aggressive and organized fundraising effort when the Team Today webpage currently describes its 2007 fundraising goals!:

    http://www.teamtoday.org/OurGoals/tabid/409/Default.aspx

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    deanerbeano

    March 3, 2010 at 2:56 am

    what is the USST’s annual budget? something like $1M per year? I feel that nike or adidas could easily match that out of sheer pity if it were possible to privatize the nordic team…

    We have to find a way to fund sending more athletes to all the WCs. Southam, Simi, Holly, and Caitlin (and most likely some others) clearly are at this level and spending another 4 years racing supertours and north american WCs isn’t going to help their racing development.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 3, 2010 at 9:01 am

    #90 – Issue is not fitness – all USST athletes are fit.

    Issue is genetics and gift of VO2 potential, and that is the root of the problem I believe. Key is to find the few amazingly gifted people, and get them to want to ski race.

    Training will only get one a finite % improvement in speed. Train full time and all the hours you want, but you will never match Freemans pace/km average, and so it goes in realtive terms. People/athelets are not machines, and most WC ski racers and “Continental Team” will never be contenders and just pack-filler and wasting money/time that could be used for development.

    Race 2 years of WC’s, and if one it is not consistant within reasonable % back each race average, forget it.

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    skipow

    March 3, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I think #90’s point is that there are simply too few people with fitness… The bell curve representing the talent pool is just too small in number. Ya, the USST is fit. But they represent the marginal extremes in the total population. If the total population was bigger, there would be more talent in the margins, hence higher fitness on the USST.

    The focus should be at the top, it should be on cultivating more numbers at the grassroots level. That’s where the money needs to go.

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    skipow

    March 3, 2010 at 9:11 am

    The focus should NOT be at the top… sorry

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    Mike Trecker

    March 3, 2010 at 9:15 am

    sluggingsammy, The simplicity of your statements is right on. That’s where we’re at right now, no doubt about it. We can talk about complicated systemic solutions, but that will never take into account the individual and what one special person can accomplish. People have done it before and they will again.

    One thing about money, if we keep looking at systemic solutions, the money keeps going towards support staff, labs, coaches etc. and none of it goes to the athletes themselves who need it the most. I would almost be willing to bet that if we got rid of nearly all staff and support and gave the money directly to the skiers, they would do a better job of finding and funding their own support staff. Love the quote, “no bucks, no Buck Rodgers”. How true.

    On team tactics: The Swedes led a historic charge to the new frontier on this for sure. However, look at the Canadian men in the 50k, they had all 4 in the front group for a long time but had no real ability to pose a threat as a team.

    Let’s just say that Alex went to the front as the designated domestique and tried to ease the pace to allow Ivan some rest. Noble, but the others in the group would likely see right through this and go around to set just enough tempo to drop both Alex and Ivan and the plan would backfire. It’s different when inhibiting a chase as Lodwick did, but simply slowing the whole bunch from the front for any extended period of time doesn’t work that well and really pisses everyone off in front. It can also be somewhat dangerous as a quick slowing in the front can create an accordian effect behind and cause crashes. I saw Lars Flora do this at the start of the Owl Creek a couple of years ago and he nearly took out his own teammate Golovko.

    That being said, designating a skier as a pacer may have some positive effect. We’ll have to see if that one plays out over time. Even for Northug, if he had a domestique at his side, what is called “protected” in cycling, the worker could close the gaps and Petter could chill, especially mentally. Once the pacer’s energy is used up, he justs gives the nod to Northug and says, it’s all you man, good luck. It could work a little. Even sounds like AJ did that for Cook during the Birkie that just happened.

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    nyctvt

    March 3, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Maybe the nordic program needs to look at our swimming program. American swimmers consistently medal at World Championships and at the Olympics. Many of the medalists are in college or club programs. Whatever they are doing is working!

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    PDN

    March 3, 2010 at 9:47 am

    How long can the ‘insiders’ remain silent? I think 100 comments deserve a response.
    I DO NOT think the folks in charge have to EXPLAIN any given result or our overall performance at the Games. We’ve all batted this around enough – it’s a waste of time. Let’s talk about breaking the cycle. Lets talk about the future.
    I DO think that showing some receptiveness to new ideas from outside would help regain the trust and support of frustrated fans. Blind optimism does have its place… now that the big show is over, some discussion is in order.

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    FlintHillsXC

    March 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

    In response to #92, yes, as someone wrote earlier, it would be great if FS would provide a detailed article on the economics of the USST and competitive racing (how much does one earn for finishing #32 in Otepaa? What does it cost to race in Europe for a season? What is the USST budgget for wax techs, etc.) And would someone please clarify: isn’t Nike allowed right now to give to the team? Does the money have to funneled through a satallitte organization, e.g., Team Today? Does the USST have a Friends of the Nordic Team account? I was under the impression that the team budget is a mix of the private and public.

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    skipow

    March 3, 2010 at 10:37 am

    #99: Good ideas.. but why not funnel that money into BKYSL or funding High School opportunities instead. Spending more on the WC skiers probably won’t create the next Kris Freeman. But if you have more kids getting their friends on board, we may.

    We have to have a better farm team if we want to make the big time.

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    wave3formeee

    March 3, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I think it would be a good idea for the waxers up there in VANC to let those of us “outer” skiers know what they were testing. I for one have a pretty big test base for my kids, and I know that some of the less thought-up waxes always seem to be the fastest. I don’t want to dissect what they’ve done, but I do think there would maybe be a bit of merit for those of us at home to get an inside glimpse of the inner-sanctum of the USST x-c program. Did they even test Fast Wax Salmon?? That always seems to be in the mix for me, and I’m fairly particular about what goes on the skis. Granted, I don’t have all the latest and greatest super-combos that the European companies have concocted, but I’ve got the regular CH and LF bricks that anyone can buy in the store, and I should have to think that one of those would be at very least decent.

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    Tim Kelley

    March 3, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Wow – post I’m post #102, talk about being late to the party! What I’m going to say will probably make no sense to many people here, will be quickly forgotten and certainly won’t be followed through on. But whatever, here goes …

    You can call getting good ski results at the Olympics – a “big project”. Big projects are done all the time in the world, with varying degrees of success. To accomplish big projects successfully it takes money, skilled leaders and team members and … lessons learned from the past. Often when big projects are started one of the first things that is done is to review lessons learned from previous projects. These easy-to-find references for the project team summarize what went right and what went wrong in past projects. In particular, the lessons learned help big projects avoid repeating the same mistakes made by previous projects.

    So the medals didn’t come home in the xc ski team luggage like the last 4 years of hype predicted. Well, why was this? What went awry? What was learned from this 4 year “project”? And most importantly, will the lessons learned from this Olympic cycle be recorded, open to discussion with the xc community (that’s called accountability and transparency) and be available for making better decisions in the future?

    I believe I can accurately predict the answers to the above questions: Don’t know. Don’t know. Nothing. No. And I predict the USST guard will change or ignore these lackluster results and the Sisyphus process of pushing the same rock back up the same hill will start anew. That’s too bad. Because if USST coaches and staff sucked up, honestly analyzed and shared with the skiing public the lessons learned for each Olympic cycle – then the US would be a more successful xc skiing nation over time. The US xc ski team would have long term continuity and the tools to get better at “big projects” like the Olympics.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 3, 2010 at 11:48 am

    FastWax Salmon — yes! (from comment #101) The USST should try that one. It is amazingly good wax. So is the Tan.

    Sounds like everyone would like to see some comment from the USSA/USST on the state of affairs and lessons learned — maybe post-season, as they’re already back in Europe preparing for the end of season WC races.

    This has to be real, and not hype. The athletes did a great job and there were some key heartbreaks, but that is to be expected. We need some other key players and that is where the program at the top needs to spend some energy and bucks.

    I like the comments relating to what we can do to help: get kids out, volunteer time in local programs, promote events, promote the sport. Unless you’ve ever done this, no matter how great of a racer you ever were, or thought you were/are, you don’t have the perspective on what it takes to build the program up. We’re kind of a society of selfish people when it comes to volunteering time and effort. There are, fortunately, a few bright shining exemptions to that.

    And yeah, why can’t we find any better funding sources? The USSA seems to have no problem finding funding for the Alpine program…

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    T.Eastman

    March 3, 2010 at 11:58 am

    As I watched from the side of the trail during the 50k, I was impressed with James’s skiing and how relaxed he looked in the lead pack. Had he have been able to have spent more of his ski career racing with the Euros, I have no doubt he and the rest of the US skiers would produce the results they want. XC racing on the big stage is a European sport and more time spent racing in Europe at the “B” level and WC level is critical for success; this requires adequate funding.

    Growing XC skiing (and touring) in the US is important for expanding the base of potential top racers and generating the funds for international racing. If you can’t donate money, take time and teach your non-skiing friends how to ski or work with the local kids or anything to grow the sport (not just racing) at the grass roots level. Money is tight but growing skiing from the roots is not expensive but the fruits of that effort could help fund the few at the top.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    …just finished (after something like 5 different start/stops/restarts) watching the 50km classic. Yeah, James Southam rocked. He just needs more WC races under his belt. He needs to be seasoned. Same goes for the rest of those other folks who were added to the team: Kuzzy, Hamilton, Brooks, Compton — I’m sure the current WC USST members would like some more company out there. I can think of a few more top-US level skiers who should be on the WC, or at least the Euro FIS races getting those hard knocks and bringing up their game level. We seem to be stuck somewhere in the middle…

    Good comments here — especially T. Kelley (102) and T. Eastman (104). Spot on.

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    davidf2d

    March 3, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    RE:Comment 71
    muskegflyer:

    Did you even READ my comment at all? I never said anything about Braten’s work beyond how much it cost. Where do you get that I was insulting anyone, besides the armchair quarterbacks here on the forum? No wonder so much of this is pointless shouting.
    Dave

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    skierout

    March 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    If someone could have just come up with the “Fast Wax suggestion” right away, we could have all saved our time commenting and scratching our heads.

    The wax techs REALLY dropped the ball here.

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    jmeserve

    March 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Let’s get real, What does it say about the sport when a team feels it needs to bring more wax techs to the Olympics than athletes. (i.e. Norway 22?) The sport is broken at every level, not just here in the USA.

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    freeheels

    March 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Bring back the Individual start 50K!!
    Fast conditions. Relatively Easy coarse, especially the second 5k.
    Lukas Bauer changed skis at 30K’s, lost 35 seconds and was back on the front in a K and half. The pack was cruising for 40K’s, with the big boys tucked nicely behind the forerunners until Legov picked it up. Not sure any of this discussion about seasoning 30 year athletes to compete with the guys dominating in their mid twenties has any relevance. We need to keep our shinning stars from Junior Worlds in the sport if we want to compete.

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    jmeserve

    March 3, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    #109
    Seeded waves, one every thirty seconds or minute, top skiers from each country in the first wave, #2 in the second wave etc.etc. Skiers would still be head to head but couldn’t coast because of the other waves. Probably makes too much sense to actually happen.

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    freeheels

    March 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Seriously, look at Teichman, Cologna at 35k’s. It appears as if they are training. Then, try to remember Smirnov in the 50 in Lillehammer. Different sport.
    The only time Northug was on the front was coming into the stadium to either change skis or look good for the crowd. Almost every lap, it’s crazy.

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    Cloxxki

    March 3, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Look at Americans who do well in “European” sports.

    How did Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong do it? Unbeatable genes that found themselves in a bike races.

    How did Shauni Davis end up being the faster speed skater in the world? There was a short track rink in his ‘hood’ as a kid. Skating is what you did.

    How did Chad Hedrick end up winning his Olympic Medals? He started out inline skating, and being totally fanatic as well as innovating at that, becoming the best ever at it. Near unbeatable genes helped.

    How do the Central Europeans manage to get so many medals at the Winter Games? Don’t fall to notice that some of these athletes have DAY JOBS. Did any US ski team member, ever, have that burden? Not every athlete responds to a pampered life, with training sessions often being on the rollerski treadmill. Some just love to be outside, and do versatile workouts.

    If it’s so important to have great skiers, try to steal some talents from other sports. No way all the good swimmers in the US will make the Olympics. Too freakin’ many good swimmers. Some might as well become skiers early in life. In my country, the first couple dozen speed skaters left home would have gotten Olympic diploma’s hd they been allowed to participate. They might as well become skiers, and make the Olympics that way. Genes and determination are there.

    Before you get deminant racers, just build a recreative scene that keeps sucking in joung healthy people. Hold grassroots mini races, during the loppets. Some old fart at 35 trying to be a fast skier, being supported to become the best he can locally, just might happen to have a nephew who’s 17 with too much energy for his parents to deal with.
    There are no more than 7 people between you and the last Emperor of China. Your dad knew a lady who knew…
    How many links are there between you and the neext Bill Koch? Who might (s)he be?

    I wonder where all those millions of Russians are skiing. And what ski brands they buy. I wonder if there really are millions.

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    JSPierre

    March 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Fastwax? Really guys? why don’t we just try Swix Polar tip to tail? That almost works. If they wanted to have crap skis, they’d ask the fasterskier comment section. Since we want good skis, they’ll leave it to the wax techs, and each of them has more knowledge in their pinky than all of the posters in this comment section combined.

    I might still be a junior, but I know one thing. It’s that you need to have faith in the system. You can’t change things every 3 years and expect it to magically work. I’ve tried really hard and had some setbacks, but I consider a top 35 at JOs last year a success, and plan to build on it this year, maybe top 20. Next year, when I’ll be in college and a second year OJ, who knows? IF I work hard and follow my plans, I could be a podium contender. But that will only happen if i stick with what I’ve got on my training plan. Changing things up, ‘firing’ my coach (yeah right like I’d be able to fire my dad), won’t make me fast. sticking with it will.

    Justin St. Pierre

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    sluggingsammy

    March 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    To 93 and 94:

    Fitness IS the major problem. When our best distance results at the Olympics were in the twenties and we haven’t been on one distance world cup podium in what, decades? – it is clear that the USST is not fit enough. The reason for it is a whole other topic, but we’d be making leaps and bounds if we just ACKNOWLEDGE that our best skiers are not as fit as those who are consistently medal threats, and yet they still have to go outside the country to be challenged.

    111:
    Northug led the first 3-5 km and I don’t recall anyone else (perhaps Sundby) leading any more than that. I share your frustration though. What did FIS think they were going to get by making these mass starts? But with that said, I still think the best skiers ended up on the podium. It was a longer drive for the finish and who were more comfortable (efficient) over the first 47km happened to be the ones with the most left for the last 3.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Fitness is a relative measure, and my maximum fitness is not the same level as yours, etc. You can only acheive a certian level of fitness and thus relative speed, dictated by what you are born with – the program, hours or coach will not change this.

    To believe that a racer, including some of our current “top” skiers in the USA, if they train a certian # of hours, and follow a certian routine will magically ski as fast as the winners is fantasy. Again, all the USST, athletes are supremely fit, but some do not have the tools to win…not an insult, just fact. To be among the best, one has to be the best.

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    freeheels

    March 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    114, agreed. We gotta stop being satisfied with 28th

    The most notable performance in the whole race was Teichman. He skied from 40-48 k’s by himself in no-man’s-land, got back on just in time to pin it up the last hill and hammer in to get the Silver. Impressive race but I’d really like to see who can pace themselves and ski 50’s. Where was Northug in the only Individual start race at the Olympics….way back! As far as pacing is concerned, the Pursuit isn’t much different than the 50K. Ski Tempo, then blast the last 5, “if it’s your day!” Either way, we’d still be in the high 20’s or thirties, just like we’ve been since Albertville. Who would have been our best athletes right now, have long since found something else to do. The only person on the team who currently has been dominate his whole career is Freeman. He’s killed everybody since he’s been in Junior High. It’s somewhat unrealistic to think we can compete with guys like Northug or Hellner who’ve been dominate since birth. Bottom line, we need to keep our outstanding athletes from leaving the sport at 20 years old. Hmmmm pace on a 40 dollar a year scholarship or live like a popper and make the olympics in 4 years. That answer is obvious to most of the cream of the crop in USA.

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    John C

    March 3, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    There are a lot of different areas being discussed here, and there is some history that might be recycled to help in this improvement effort.
    Years ago Subaru had money to help PE programs to purchase Nordic equipment, and to start XC ski curriculum. More recently a group of manufacturers had a van of equipment and had people who could ski and teach who would go to schools and do a lesson and ski day. The idea was to grow the base. Similar to what the winter trails day promotion at ski areas was and I think still is doing by giving free lessons/rentals/passes to never ever skiers for a day each winter. This approach really should be tried again, but money and a long term commitment are the only hopes for growth with this approach. The problem is that the people who put in the money want to see some remuneration, or get something for their efforts. Altruism is great, but if the people don’t see a return on their investment, they will not continue their support.
    The Soviets would introduce kids to the sport. Take some with interest and talent, and give them a local program. Later the best would go to a ski gym, and then up the ladder to the national level. Their economic system allowed for this, and national pride was the pay off. We need more tangible results to get people’s money.
    The demographics of our sport used to paint a picture of a very affluent group, and I bet still do. We also have people who know how to raise money. To get money you need a consistent message, a program, a person, or a goal that is based on a plan. People must buy into a program enough to loosen their purse strings. There are lessons for us in the college ranks. Ask coaches of programs such as the one at UNH and at Dartmouth where and how they get their funding. Why do people give them contributions, equipment, and why and how do they get their skiers. We need to look at this as a sales pitch. We need to sell the public on our sport. We need corporations and individuals to see what Nordic can mean to them. My guess would be that a good fit would be the health care sector for sponsors. We should also have goals like a ski trail in every town park.
    As for the future, and the discussion of wax techs; if you don’t have numbers to test, and wax skis right up to the time someone steps on the course, you will not succeed. In Sochi there will be little or no pre-information, so better start banking money for a big tech crew, if you want results.

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    wave3formeee

    March 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Justin,

    Fast Wax is not crap wax. I have repeatedly speed trapped it against the other major contenders (ToKo, Swix, etc…), and the difference between the two has never been significant in one direction or the other. As a former racer, and now a juniors coach, I have to say that your attitude disappoints me. Juniors who have the time and ability to train at a level where they are making the regional JO team year in and year out have potential. Maybe not Freeman potential, but a chance at greatness nonetheless.

    Fitness may not be the end-all be-all, but it sure is a start. You can’t ski fast without a good engine. Even with Petter’s crappy skis and Freeman’s skis/blood sugar/wrong way episodes, they still are WAYYYYYY faster than any of us here. we should be thanking our lucky stars that we even know their names. Clearly the setbacks with waxing are something that hopefully won’t be an issue in the future, so I’ll get to work on figuring out how to keep diabetes under control.

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    GerBear05

    March 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Does anyone know what wave of the Birkie you have to be in to qualify for the Olympics? I heard it was 2, but I could have been wrong.

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    freeheels

    March 3, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Gerbear. Ha. That won’t happen even with God on your side.

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    sammylj

    March 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I’VE HAD IT WITH THESE MOTHERFLIPPING COMMENTS ON THIS MOTHERFLIPPING POST!!!!!

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    sluggingsammy

    March 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    teamepokeedsbyn:

    What do you consider “fitness”? It looks to me that you are referring to VO2Max. If you are, realize that VO2Max is not the complete fitness picture. There are many examples in more simplistic sports (to get a clearer picture), like cycling or running, of athletes with very good, but significantly lower than the best, who can still produce the best results. What you do with that aerobic capacity (yes, training) determines the rest of the story and the affects can vary by as much as 10 percent or more.

    I agree with you that talent is important and we always need to be on the lookout for big engines. But believing that after the engine is topped out that results are too, well, is simply incorrect. Moreover, how does one know when the engine is maxed out? Show me someone who really trains a lot, and hard, through their twenties that has not been better for it.

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    JSPierre

    March 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I agree with Samuel L. Jackson, it seems like this has gone on a bit long (but I’m not really helping, oops!). I’m sorry Wave3, if I came across too bold. I guess I’ve got a lot to learn, and so it’s probably good that I’m still fairly young.

    I’m heading out East soon, so everyone wish me luck!!!!

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    nordicgeek

    March 3, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading and mumbling to myself about comments on here. I had to speak out when I saw the most assinine statement out there, “That the USST wax techs should have tested waxes like Fastwax.” Seriously!? Are you fricking kidding me? You are going to drop comments on here that the techs did a poor job at the Olympics based upon your superior knowledge of waxing, such as the super secret awesome FastWax…? Anyone who has actually done any extensive speed trap testing and who has tested waxes that are fast could tell you that FastWax is crap, as is Toko. They are never the fastest wax out there. This being said we don’t even know a fraction of what the USST wax tech team knows about waxing.
    I’m sick of you guys make jackass statement like this and wax recommendations. This is why people have posted comments on here telling people to shut their mouths when they don’t know anything. I’m am all for discussion but don’t say that dedicated people suck at what they are doing when you obviously don’t know what you are talking about.

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    nordicgeek

    March 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Which races are we talking about the techs dropping the ball on anyways? I know that it was thrown out there that Freeman had bad skis in the 15k skate but I hadn’t heard much more than that on wax. If you are talking about NC remember that that is a different wax tech and they ended up prevailing with awesome results despite what may have been snafus in the waxing.

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    wave3formeee

    March 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Way to go nordicgeek. you’re only cementing the comments about the elitist xc community and how only a certain percentage should be ‘allowed’ to comment on something. Since I was a young kid, I’ve noticed that cross country skiers are some of the most friendly people on the planet. You seem to have missed that chromosome. I was merely commenting that when I test waxes for my skiers, I’ve had Fast Wax in the bunch more often than not. maybe it’s just the snow, maybe where I’m at the conditions are optimized that a ‘crap wax’ prevails. I know from firsthand experience that it does, though, so don’t try to convince me otherwise.

    Justin, good luck next week!!!!!

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 3, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I define fitness is relative to the person for whatever sport they are pursuing. In x-c skiing it esentially is VOMax combined with strength to weight ratio and ability to stave off lactic acid levels. The top 50-60 overall male x-c skiers at the Olys were aguably the top 60 fittest athletes at the Olys, but the only maybe 25 of them have to potential to at some time have a legitamate chance of ever being a consistant top 10 finisher. (it is mathmatically easier to place in top 30 in Olys/Worlds than a World Cup as less racers as less entrants). The limiting factor is genetics/motor/strength, not fitness.

    You can train the exact program as Freeman, at his same age, but you will not ski as fast as him. Many people do/have, and same result. Once one is at top level of fitness (cannot train more or harder and remain heatlhy and be able to race), it is fansaty to beleive one will average any largley significant speed increase simply by training more or differnt hours.

    At the elite level (WC), no variation in training program will allow show an average %10 gain in speed, or unlikley even a %3 for that matter. At the top level, 2% is the differnce between average in top 30 or top 15.

    My opinion is it all comes down to finding the genetic freaks via divesting the management management positions (USSA), new gyms, etc, and investing instead in long term development programs, including outside the traditonal places and programs (yeah, fully funded programs and scholaships ouside major cities like Boston, Twin Cities, Denver, S.F., etc for low income kids). Currently, USSA structure is US x-c skiing’s worst enemy for long term development of the sport as they control the purse strings and thus where the money is spent.

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    OldManWinter

    March 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    #113 Justin – You sound brimming with confidence, which is important for an aspiring young racer. It’s also good to have goals as well, and becoming an OJ podium contender is commendable. You’re going to college next year which makes you…what? 18? 19? Consider this then, young paduan learner:
    Thomas Alsgaard won his first Olympic gold at 19. Gunde Svan (sorry, you weren’t born yet) was on the WC at 19 racing in the 30s. I’m not sure where your delusions are leading you, but know this: If world domination is in your plans, you have a very, very steep climb there based upon your modest results so far.

    You should also know that your assessment of the greater fs.com community doesn’t amount to a bucket of spit, and I’ll speed trap my boards against yours any day of the week. A-N-Y D-A-Y.

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    OldManWinter

    March 3, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    me bad…TA won his first gold at 22…I stand by that, and the rest though…OMW

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    longtimer

    March 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Oldmanwinter, not quite fair to Justin. We’ve had solid performing Olympians start out in their early years (teens and early 20s) with lesser results than Justin (who did come off as a little put-offish). Anything is possible and it’s good strive and dream.

    Nevertheless, I’m just wondering why a little backwater club from an out of the way state generally outperformed USSA/USST at nationals this year. And at the Olympics the best results were from a late add-on or skiers from this club.

    Illness? Overtraining? Just not quite peaking at the right time?

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    OldManWinter

    March 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    longtimer – Help me out here. ‘We’ve had solid performing Olympians’? Just who would they be? We haven’t had any! Thats what this whole thread is about!

    I’m sure Justin gets the message. Agreed, its good to have goals, but I’ve been in business long enough that they have to be realistic, and I want him to understand what ‘real’ is in terms of what his euro counterparts have done, and are doing.

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    sluggingsammy

    March 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I did not say that a training program change to an existing WC level skier will produce a 10% gain. I said what they do in training makes the final 10% or more adjustment in the big picture. In other words: that you can take an 18 year old (which science shows is as old as necessary to achieve lifetime max VO2) and train him or her for 10 more years and they can still improve 10% or more depending on the quantity and quality of that training.

    In your first paragraph, you define fitness as “esentially VOMax combined with strength to weight ratio and ability to stave off lactic acid levels.” First, it is power to weight ratio (not strength to weight ratio) which is very trainable. Secondly, the ability to stave off lactic acid levels is exactly what training improves too.

    I am not suggesting training like Freeman. Who would want to, because it hasn’t gotten him anywhere closer to a medal in the last 7 years. 6 hour level 1 ODs – what is that training for? What I am suggesting is to encourage more of our skiers to train more like the ones who, through many years on the WC, have continually improved to become the best. Although I am not intimately knowledgeable of how the USST trains, I have been around long enough in the ski world to know that it is different (mostly easier) than what has worked for the medalists.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 3, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    yes yes, symantics, but you know what I imply I think.
    The mistake I believe we (US Skiing) have made in the last 25 years or so is continuing to lead young athletes on, who return to the USST year after year, and have no chnece of being among the best in the world as do not have have the genetic gift. Good team managers select the right players, and tell those who are not going to make it to seek other directions as required.

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    GerBear05

    March 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Does anyone know if they used the Nordic Torpedo in Vancouver this year? I hear it uses less wax and is faster to test, so maybe that should be an option for the next big races.

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    2PACmosDEF

    March 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Two Things to say-
    1.) A couple of comments above are on wax techs. The US wax techs did an absolutely shit job in all of the races, not just the first 15k skate for Freeman’s ski. The US NoCo team could have swept the individual races if they had skies the same speed as the rest of the field.
    2.) The biggest problem with the USST is we are going downhill quick. Look at the 2002 Olympics, where Kris Freeman, at just 21 years of age, had great results as well as Carl Swenson and John Bauer. There is no doubt that the USST has been crashing downhill since then. I remember Pete Vordenberg saying once “we only no what doesn’t work” referring to that era of US skiing. But those were very good times compared to where we’re at right now. There are no young, superstar athletes developing in this country, and that says something about US skiing’s future.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Not to mention Patrick Weaver, 16th in the 15km classic. Man, those were the good old days, who woulda thunk it?

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    Cory Salmela

    March 3, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Wow. I hope my kids never get into ski racing

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    RonBott

    March 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    All this agonizing over all these years, and to think the answer to Olympic success was Fastwax Salmon.

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    lsiebert

    March 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I hope they do, but that they block fasterskier comments from their computers.

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    JimGalanes

    March 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I feel it is great to see the passion this thread is producing. It can be part of a valuable dialog. It shows to me that some people, at least, want to see our skiers perform at the highest levels. To be sure this issue will not be resolved here, if ever, it is too complex with a multitude of factors that need to be reviewed and considered. But as Tim Kelly suggested, this project failed and we need an open dialog and process to determine what did not work so we don’t push the same rock up the same hill and expect different results in four years.

    It should be clear that speaking in realistic terms of the performance of the US athletes is not hateful or disrespectful. There is no one who doubts that athletes are trying darn hard and have committed much to the process and for that they deserve much credit. At the same time the goals of the program for the Olympics have been clear since 2006 and for whatever reasons the athletes were not prepared to perform at a substantially higher level that in 2006. Let’s not forget we had some pretty solid performance at the 2002 Olympics, Women 30 Km Nina Kemmpel 17th, Wendy Wagner 25th, Men’s 4 * 10 relay 5th, Men’s Pursuit Kris Freeman 15th, 15 Km Classical John Bauer 12th, Patrick Weaver 16th, Kris Freeman 22nd, In light of the performances this year some serious discuss needs to occur.

    There are a couple of points that have been made that I feel are key and we need to carefully consider.

    1. Our junior athletes need to be at a much higher level of fitness and skiing speed. The notion that it takes years to develop a world class skier while true, also needs to take into account that the dominate skiers in the world entered their senior years at a very high level in terms of world cup performances. It is folly to think that a young senior who is 10-15% or more behind in their first foray into world Cup racing will ever make up that difference and become a podium contender. The reality is someone who is 4-5-6% behind and finishing in the 30’s and 40’s after 6-8 years as a senior will never step on the podium. Harsh maybe, but history demonstrates that it is probable.

    2. True VO2max is not the only determinant for success, there are many factors like technical and muscular efficiency, the ability to produce high levels of power, lactate buffering, etc…Having said that a very high VO2max is the first component for getting in the game. For men a VO2max in the 80+ ml/kg is a necessity. All of the top skier have high VO2 max values, then these other issue become important determinants of success. It is highly unlikely that a skier with a low VO2max regardless of their ability to produce power, or the technical and muscular efficiency will ever be a podium contender.

    These two points are interrelated. To optimal develop VO2max , we need genetically gifted skiers, and we need to bring our juniors to a higher level of performance at a younger age. I am not going to suggest training harder or more because I don’t frankly know how our current generations of skiers are training. With analysis we could certainly figure it out. What I am saying and it should be clear that we need to bring our junior to a higher level and this must also include the physiological capacity.

    These comments certainly only reflect a snapshot of the total problem but a large piece of the puzzle. Let’s hope the dialog continues and anyone who desires can engage in the discussion that without being needless bashed. Fire away.

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    flakenordic

    March 3, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Part of the problem with skiing in the US in general is that it isn’t a main sport. The very best athletes in the country play basketball or football. Try getting Lebron James or Peyton Manning out on skis. These guys are such good athletes that they would be good at anything they did if they started early enough. Another problem (which Im glad we have) is we don’t dope. We can’t compete with the dirty skiers, and so we get killed! Skiing isn’t what it is in Europe. Until it becomes bigger, the United States just isn’t going to be as good as Norway or Sweden.

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    2PACmosDEF

    March 3, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    I agree with FlakeNordic. We’ll never be good as a country unless we start doping. Skiing doesn’t have the doping regulations found in cycling, and likewise hundreds of European (and probably chinese) competitors get away scott free.
    I disagree with Lebron and Peyton Manning becoming good skiers. Lebron’s 6’9″, ever see someone that big on skis? Can’t happen. And no Peyton Manning because I HATE the Colts. We need guys like Lance Armstrong, Adrian Peterson and Randy Moss out on the ski trails. Some of the most coordinated, well-rounded athletes you will ever see.

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    birkieturkey

    March 3, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    good record breaking fs discussion. seems like the only non-participants were the usst coaches and staff. that’s usual. they seem to be too elite and almighty to discourse skiing issues with us lowly untouchable ones, that they expect to donate to teamtoday. i take that back for grover, he’s got integrity.

    also – good to see jim galanes posting here, very smart guy. as i remember the best apu skiers, randall and southam, started out being coached by him up in alaska.

    if this discourse is winding down, no problem if it is not, how about some takeaway points.

    1 fitness versus being a genetic freak. both are important and necessary and can be identified early. the old idea that a skier needs to be in their late 20’s to start being good is bs. northug and his generation has shown us that to win at any distance at the top level you can be young if you are talented. so taking old geezer skiers like southan, brooks or others that are around 30 years old to more wc races is a waste of money. they were never world class, never will be. they have no chance of ever making a wc podium. put money into kids that medal at the jr worlds and u23s. but don’t carry skiers for long if they don’t’ podium or top 10 in wc races.

    2 about hype. i hope that the usst coaches and staff have learned that hype with no substance will cause a backlash when their talk doesn’t walk. the public will hate them, less support will flow their way. their athletes end up in the line of fire, so they get ranked on along with their handlers. this black eye of an olympics will haunt vordenberg, farra and bodensteiner for the rest of their careers, however short that may be. also, if the usst coaches plan on staying quiet and ignoring the failures of these olympics – backlash will only escalate. engaging the ski community openly and on-line and discussing the “lessons learned” as the post #102 above mentions is the only way forward from the black hole they have created for themselves.

    3 about usst coaches. will the usst ever get a coach that is experienced and has a track record? or will all that it take to be a usst coach is to be a drinking buddy with luke? just because an athlete goes to the olymics, like vordenberg, and does lousy at the olympics, like vordenberg – that doesn’t qualify them to be a national team coach. they have no coaching skills, no coaching training, no coaching experience, likely no social skills, have worked very little in their lives and often have poor communication skills. look at the most revered xc coaches in the us – kapala, sverre, sten. did they go to the olympics? no. they are the best because they are honest, don’t place hype over reality, and they are really smart. problem is – they are too smart to become involved in the usst, so it’s hard to get their caliber of coach. instead the usst gets the leftovers. bummer.

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    T.Eastman

    March 3, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    birketurk, now you have ranted, what steps do you propose?

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    RonBott

    March 4, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I’ve enjoyed following this post and think there have been some good thoughts and ideas. There has also been a lot if silliness.

    In response to ‘BirkieTurkey’, the USST is already back in Europe preparing for the next round of races. The season goes on. I would guess Pete and others will address the Olympic situation at some point in the future, but give then a chance to do so. I’ll bet their busy preparing for the next World Cup and not following this thread as religiously as we are.

    Also, by making comments that Pete got his job as head coach because he’s drinking buddies with Luke, who doesn’t care about XC results is just plain ridiculous. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and talk with both. You might not be happy with the results that have or have not occurred under their watch, but to suggest they work very little and have no skills in unfair.

    By no means am I a USST apologist. But no positive ideas are going to come from this discussion if we’re just going to make things up and trash people.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 4, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Man, Fastwax has gotten some serious exposure here.

    My impression is that our junior programs spend too much time travelling and not enough time training. To keep the sport cool and fun for them and their peers, kids spend much of the time talking and dodging coaches in the woods, more socializing than acutal skiing. They make plans around their travel to the races, but do they actually care about it or are they just paid up members looking to belong to something. There are plenty of young kids in programs around the country. However, these programs travel on the weekends way too much instead of sending the kids out on the trails for some epic training, perhaps even together with their families instead of just isolating their own generation by themselves.

    I am convinced that over 50% of our juniors in club programs are completely lazy and lame compared to their counterparts in Euro clubs and Ski Gymnasiums. They flat out don’t work at it. They care much more about going to Junior Prom in the spring than they care about working for it.

    This attitude is very contagious. I know for a fact that the hardest working juniors are often isolated apart from the bulk of the group, they are called freaks and jerks and lone wolfs, just because they are really “into it”. Those in the middle of the bell curve would rather stick together having fun and pointing their fingers at the hard working kids and say, “Geez, why are they working so hard, they are never happy, they never say hi, I’m never going to be like that.” – This is more of what I talk about, no culture for hard work, no culture for success.

    I even witnessed this at the highest level in the U.S. at the national championships on one of the most decorated teams in the country. When one guy went out immediately after posting the “W” for an extended cool down training session, two of his teammates almost laughed and wondered “How can so and so go out there like that?” Well, the guy who won the race and went out training right after, he just raced his best Olympics while his two teammates at the time are now at home doing something else.

    Solutions? I’ve got two really simple, old school suggestions.

    1. For training the younger athletes, go old school, assign a distance requirement at practice. You must go out and ski two loops or 10, whatever, rather than a time assignment. If you couldn’t do the distance or didn’t want to, well there’s no fooling anyone on that. Better yet, find a point to point trail and drop them off and say “see ya back at the clubhouse”.

    2. Make it much, much harder to qualify for JOs. I was all for eliminating them but it seems too taboo, however, if it was simply way tougher to go, the kids would have to work that much harder to qualify.

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    skipow

    March 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

    #148 makes a good point about traveling around on weekends instead of training…

    It seems as though the big events have taken the place of smaller grassroots events that used to be held locally. This may make more money for organizations like NENSA who kill it on the Eastern Cup weekends, but it doesn’t do anything for local programs who are broke, and can’t help get the poorer folks any gear because they’re shelling it out for the big events.

    It’s a real effective system that steals from the poor and gives to the rich. kind of like an inverse bell curve philosophy.

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    Big Joe

    March 4, 2010 at 10:54 am

    whoa Jim G’s a threadkiller. I guess when you actually have some facts the whole discussion kinda derails. You would think at least Ian Harvey could jump in and take a few shots. Come on Ian you can do it. Go Big Green.

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    Ed Lynt

    March 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Moderator: Great job!
    One minor request: In the future, it would be awesome to leave filler (and the user name for reference) in sequence so references to post numbers remain sequentially accurate.

    Thanks.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Suggestions to imrove US x-c ski industry, # of participants, and performance on the elite world level (all inter-related):

    1) start process of organizing all the regional progams into a 501-c non-profit national organization with imediate goal of wresting NGB staus, and the accompanying IOC/USOC funds, from current USSA Alpine/snowboard ski team management. Explore corporate and private funding opportunities. Hire PR firm, keeping in mind the tax benefits afforded a 501-c. Appoint a Board with a member from each regional program and a Chair elected by the Board. All regional program directors/board members to be elected by their membership.

    2)Have each regional program propose operational budgets and program funding needs and goals, with a certian percent of funding mandated towards development programs, including buying equipment, paying for travel for programs for kids under age 16. Mandate ceritnan budget to seek non-traditional sources of kids paricipation. Do same for elite regional athletes, all being allocated on a need-based system.

    3)the Board oversees the National Team, including staffing, hiring, testing and performance standards at all levles of racing, acceptance and performance standards for funding (similar to what is in place). Initial funding only for a small “skeleton” international elite team, focusing maximum monies first 4 years on regional grass-roots development.

    4) establish a Eurpean base home for extended elite team stay and trainig/travel. Seek possible partnerships with regional colleges/universities for special scholarship programs for developing and elite athlete team members.

    5)To attain maximum delopement and exposure to elite ski speeds for elite team and developing athletes, seek dual partnerhsip with x-c Canada for establishing sponsorship for annual North American World Cups and starting a multi-event, month long race series that pays serious prize money and travel/appearance fees to select athletes, thus attacting many of the worlds best athletes.

    The US x-c ski commnity is highly educated with an extremly high income dempgraphic. It has a hugley un-tapped access to a private funding network, and resulting corporate “insider” network.

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    jmeserve

    March 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Careful skipow, thats blasphemy. Good to know I’m not the only one.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Holy crap, there’s a lot of comments now. Good to see the discussion, for sure. To Trecker and Gallanes: good stuff!

    Trecker, you’re 100% correct about teaching kids how to train effectively at the home base — too much focus on fancy trips spoils the goods. I had a cycling coach (English teacher) in school who knew this from the get-go and told me that I need to develop a love of the activity first, the culture second, then the sport third. He didn’t push me to race so much in the early days, but to learn to love epic rides, training alone, thinking while doing (visualizing), then finally adding in race-specific training and the races themselves. It was a little bit “Karate Kid” stuff, but he was right. I fell in love with the process and results started to come naturally. If kids can develop “the Passion” for the sport, then they’ll have the mental strength to sustain the brutal punishment of training that it takes to go all the way.

    Finding the genetically gifted ones will take a process of getting more of the gene pool involved — again, this is where the grass-roots programs are very important. Get out there and show Andy Newell’s videos to elementary and mid-schoolers (I’ve done it, and it works). They love that stuff, but you may need to fast-forward over some parts =) Maybe Andy Newell can make a new one aimed at this sort of crowd?

    Then, help out with the kids programs. Promote kids events. Build it and they will come.

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    tclaynm@juno.com

    March 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    …that’s it? We’re all stopping with my last comment? Where are all of the hard-core nay-sayers and armchair quarterbacks (excluding myself)?

    Maybe I should talk about how great FastWax is and that the USST wax techs should have known better just to get the ball rolling again 😉

    People getting so upset at that still cracks me up.

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    Howdy

    March 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    My two cents:

    I wonder if the elite depth problem isn’t the lack of juniors, but the lack of elite programs. I’m just guessing at the numbers, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like we have thousands of juniors, a couple hundred college skiers, and then what, 10-12 new pros a year (three-five of which skip college)? I think the culture of skiing beyond college is kinda lacking. I was thinking the other day about how many great college skiers with potential I know who no longer ski race at all, why?

    I believe college skiing can be an ok option. What I think many people misunderstand about training is that age doesn’t really matter, it’s the years of quality training you have done. It’s not like you lose the ability to adapt to training after you reach 25. We just need to accept the fact that our skiers may be a little older than countries like norway. So our kids lag about five years behind their kids, can anyone give me a decent reason why we can’t have skiers who are five years older? Maybe this comes back to support after college.

    In my opinion the lackluster US results are a coaching issue. I’m not blaming the US coaches, I think they’re doing as they say, trying as absolutely hard as they can. I believe they are doing their best. However, when your best doesn’t get it done, it’s time to either change what your doing, or let someone else do it.

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    jan_jansen

    March 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    I just want to point out that you can’t pick your parents. we can talk until we’re blue in the face about how we need to have programs that foster the youth passion for skiing and then develop them into world-class athletes before they get out of high school, but if we don’t nab the right ones then we’re in no different spot.

    Right now we’ve got talented kids throughout the country who are going for sports other than skiing, why? A few obvious answers have been given, but then we need to examine the issue further. Are kids being shamed by their parents into being football players and basketballers? Maybe. Are they being peer pressured to stay away from sports that have the stigmatic lycra component? Probably. Do they see the glamor of superstardom in sports other than xcskiing? Most definitely.

    How can we make xcskiing glamorous?!

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    ratherbecatskiing

    March 5, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I want to bring this back to the article in which we’re commenting on. Specifically, the techniques used in the race(s) at the Olympic level. I saw many variations of technique, but we’ve got that one trick up our sleeve that none of those dad-gummed Europeans will use: the CatSki!! Why weren’t any of the Americans using the techniques that Dale has been perfecting? The Cat1-A would have been a perfect secret weapon, but only if we USE IT.

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    Mike Trecker

    March 5, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Nice, Fastwax and Catski. Speedpowder Red really rocks too.

    Post #150, Epoke/Edsbyn, By the way, really dug those black Edsbyns pre-skate, those were sick.

    5 step plan, Step #1: I’ve said that this can’t be done, but IF it can be done, it SHOULD be done. I know it would be tough but if it’s possible….

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    Big Joe

    March 5, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I asked a similar question before but directed to a different individual… who the f*?k is Galanes and what made him so f@!kin smart? He’s got nothin. Come on — let’s go after him.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 5, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Can’t be worse than what is not working…?

    Yep, I got a pair of 1981 215 cm’s GTX 777’s with 1982 salomon bindings AND 2 sets of 1892 Falun World Cups stickers still on them. Wood core, square tips and buttery soft.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 5, 2010 at 9:59 am

    meant “1982 Falun stickers”

    158 Big Joe, you trying to cause trouble by highlighting stupid things like facts? Minumum VO2 max for consideration for fuinding and seek juniors rather than continue to enter 22+ year old skiers in World Cups who average more than %6 out season after season? Leave those silly facts, and the dumb fact that us x-c ski racing has failed after 25 years of USSA management/funding, to lawyers and successful running and cycling programs.

    With reservation, I guess we do have to listen to JG as he seems to be the only guy posting who actually stood on WC podium.

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    skipow

    March 5, 2010 at 10:49 am

    … just to echo #160: Galanes tends to have a pretty good grasp on things. And I find it interesting that some would call the comments sections here “armchair quarterbacks” and such with guys like him commenting. He’s the real deal.

    on a similar note… Is Freeman boycotting FS in response to our comments here? Are we all just a bunch of cyber-bullies.. or do some of these athletes just have some serious social problems?

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    Big Joe

    March 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Ah come on let’s face it — Galanes is a washed up clown. His information is older than the Chrysler K Car and about as reliable.

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    JimGalanes

    March 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    not to side track the discussion but…..

    teamepokeedsbyn- where did you get those skis. Sounds like the pair I raced on in the 1982 Falun World Cup that had been stolen from me.

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    JimGalanes

    March 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Big Joe-Exactly that is why I did not comment on training, and only the facts!

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Ahhhhh, I always wondered who “JG” on the skis was. They are buttery soft and fast still. Can’t tell ya where I got them though, gotta protect my sources. Come to think of it, I do seem to remember a drunken night the ’80’s, a little Ford Fiesta or similar model, with a black ski box on top and a “I Get High On Jimmy Buffet” sticker on the bumper – find the driver and you found the thief.

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    bigski

    March 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    The word is, that if there are 500 comments, Freeman will head back up to Canada and finish the race. Ok, maybe a 1,000 comments then.

    The Olympic results did not show much progress with the US Ski Team but did show that a club, APU, can produce world class talent. When the coach makes the team, you know there are doing some thing right.

    The results also demonstrated that staying close to home can also produce great results. The resullts did not show that moving to Utah are the key to success.

    While the coaches and athletes all did their best, most of us are disapointed. It would have been nice to see people doing their best at the right time. My advice is to stay a little closer to home if you want to be the best. Americans are always looking for greener grass. If you are improving stick to the plan, if not then consider a move. Athletes only have one career and if they make one bad move, it is often very detrimental. As one guy once said as he left the plane for home “another f*))&^g Olympics” I am very sure its no fun to commit to 4 years and not ski your best. Worse to read some of these comments, from the arm chair skiers though.

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    OldManWinter

    March 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Jan/Howdy – As a youth coach that has lost kids to indoor programs like track and bball, I can share some of my real-time findings. The most significant learning is that our youth pipeline has the same problems that our national program does. One is cultural…we don’t have the steep tradition the euros have for a couple of reasons: 1) We’re largely a nation of sports fans, not participants, and 2) Our best athletes don’t ski. My heroes are the skiers in our program that come from non-skiing parents. These kids are really pulling their own chains.
    Their parents don’t ‘get it’ because they never ‘got it’, and it doesn’t take much for them to pull the plug. Among the things that push parents over the edge is cost…Two pairs of skis, poles, boots; uniforms, jackets, hats, food/festival/travel expenses, etc. It really adds up during a down economy. You have to really want it for your skiers because based upon expense alone skiing is tough to rationalize. My own kids cost a healthy four figures a year where they outgrow equipment yearly, and now it extends thru summer with rollerskiing equipment (not a cheap endeavor by itself). The driving, travel and time commitments are considerable as well when compared to indoor sports. The 1600m takes approx 5 minutes, and you’re home within a half hour, whereas we routinely drive 5-6 hours roundtrip on weekends in a single day for 13 minute ski races. This really wears on the family fabric.

    As others have noted, it isn’t like there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow either. One’s best bet is a free ride through college. If your plans include post-collegiate skiing, best be prepared for a bleak future because the considerable sacrifices you have already made probably aren’t sufficient. There is a large body of evidence, including input from at least one notable above, that our top juniors aren’t training enough and that collegiate skiing isn’t adequate for international
    preparation. Even the USST leadership has gone on record advocating that top juniors skip college (hopefully that won’t touch off a firestorm among those that want their heads already).

    Given those obstacles I’m continually surprised at the youth numbers that we continue to draw, but of those numbers are we attracting the best? From my experience, the answer is ‘no’. From this baseline, the problems we face that affect the
    national program only compound…

    Garry Grigel
    207.482.5517Disclaimer: This message is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to
    which it is addressed and may contain information which is privileged, confidential, proprietary,
    or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient or the person
    responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, you are strictly prohibited from
    disclosing, distributing, copying, or in any way using this message. If you have received this
    communication in error, please notify the sender and destroy and delete any copies you may have
    received.

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    FlintHillsXC

    March 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Yeah in response to #161, I am a huge Kris Freeman fan — if he sent me a poster, I’d put it above my desk — but his tone right now is unnecessarily harsh on this blog. He writes:

    I spoke unguarded with a fasterskier reporter about how my skis were selected for the 15k race. I stated repeatedly that I did not fault my techs for the ski selection but the article placed blame directly on my staff. I will never treat any reporter, no matter how well I know them, as anything but the media. I apologize to the waxers at the Olympics who did great professional work for the duration of the games.

    C’mon, Kris, those guys are your friends! “Anything but the media.” Geesch — sounds like Sarah Palin. How about throwing FS a bone you throw it under the bus? Can’t we all get along?!

    In response to how to make XC more glamorous, how about an Andy Newell reality show? Dating the female jumper … trips to the Arctic Circle. That’s good TV.

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    Cloxxki

    March 6, 2010 at 7:12 am

    This is going to be long, so just skip, or try to get something good out of it.

    I read some great comments over the last couple dozen, one of which I’d like to highlight.
    – Cost of equipment for youth
    All skis of any quality I’ve seen, were made-in-Europe. Some boots are from China. A skier needing more skis than boots, that seems to work against Americans (meaning every person between the Atlantic and the Pacific)

    Isn’t it odd, that XC skis are still made in Europe? Norway even, and these are barely more expensive than the ones from Austria.
    Imagine if a US company (is HEAD from the US?) would step up, and made skis for the home team. US made skis would give the skiers an extra sence positive patriotism. We’re going to beat those Europeans!
    Your wax techs and coaches would be much closer to the factory, and have first picks.
    Youth skis could be made in decent series runs, with US-specific graphics. Perhaps in China, as I think US companies have good ties there which could ensure good quality control. Yes, it will cost to start-up. $600 for race skis in the US is more than €379 in Europe, though. Not only $/€ is a factor.

    So much one can do with equipment to take the sport to the next level. Give a kid that won nationals or states, huge sheets of stickers for his/her next years skis. Like the national jerseys in cycling. Something to train for, something to earn, something to want to keep. Stars and stripes all over your skis, which US kid is wanting even the Carbonlite look over that? It will be reserved right for winners, though.

    Youths don’t care much for applause from grey folks along the lines. Maybe, if they’re from ski families. As mentioned above, there are people who ski because they saw it, and they wanted (to try) it. Having cute, fit, girls and boys along the side, is a much greater motivator that a frustrated coch that wants Olympians, or a dad that failed as a racer himself.
    That’s culture of another level, a youth culture for skiing.
    High schools might announce a prestigeous prize for “best rookie” skier. Someone who has less than, say 100k experience, but wants to give it a go. That’s how you get new kids in there.
    It can’t be said enough, especially in the god-fearing but hypocritically largest porn industry in the world despite relatively few citizen : sex sells. Don’t deny, accept.
    I a fit, outgoing lady coaches the local girls, and they train together or at the same time as the boys, and then after have a tea all together, you’re going to get boys on the boys team, many of them. Sad as it may be, it’s a reality. Old grumpy guys as coaches, not as much a promo to get on the program.
    Kris Freeman-like male coaches on the girl(/boys) teams will have the sam effect. Ever overheard girls talking about alpine ski teachers? They never talk about lady coaches that way. And they sure as anything are not going to miss a lesson. Coach integrity is vital to make it work, but it’s part of the game.

    Cheerleaders seem to be important in the US, Europe doesn’t have that, or doesn’t need it.

    College “free runs”, makes me sick to hear about. Absolute sure to NOT make Olympians, I would almost expect. Why be less lazy than you absolutely need to be, if you’re doing it for cash savings? Europeans pay for their own sport, until they’re good enough to get personal sponsors to absorb up some of the costs. And I know UCI Master world champions who’ve always gotten all their own stuff, at full retail. This is where a local ski company comes in again. And guess what, Europeans still go to University anyway, and pay a lot for the priviledge. No such thing as scholarships, unless you’re a genetic freak of the brain. Look at Marianne Vos. Wins everything on 2-wheelers, and will in a couple years be a doctor. What’s the opposite of lazy?
    College as a funding to have a few years of training for free, give me a break.

    Sadly, in these times, reality shows really are the only way to get something less than daily to come in the eyes of a nation.
    For my own, non-skiing country (a snowboard Vancouver Gold though), I have thought about a reality show to set up a biathlon relay team. Get non-skiers from skating, running, cycling, etc, and turn them into the best possible skiers over a years time. Heck, maybe have road teams with ergometers go around the country, asking non-athletes to do a VO2 check.
    All the usual TV drama. The highs, the lows, the sex, the personal growth. It’s all about the genetic pool, and the effort being put in. The Belgian TV turned a bunch of non-cycling youngsters from hardcore Zimbabwe into professional level Cyclo-Cross racers, over the course of 1 year. Guy who couldn’t ride a bike, picture this, or just google the videas. They may not have stepped on the podium at worlds, but I can tell you these guys became deadly fast. Would podium in US state races probably. Just the genetic pool of Zimbabwe, and a good coach, plus a tv program and some funding. If the Belgian (6 million Dutch speakers) TV audience than couch this up, what about the US?

    Andrew Newell seems to have the talents to make promo of such a level happen. Seems he’s a bit pre-occupied being an Olympic promis himself for the next 4 years. Others can together match his talents though. And the fast and female ladies seem to be doing something huge as well. And that’s obviously all-role model, non inter-sexe appeal doing the job.

    As easy as it may seem to steal talents from other sports (financially difficult), a large potential is among those who don’t work out all. I read about a guy who did an ergonometer VO2 test in university. Non-athlete. He rocked the test. When asked about his family etc, he said, “oh yes, my sister is an Olympic rower”.
    Which bike racer hasn’t once been overtaken by a slow looking guy on a dorky city bike, going too fast to hang on to?
    Gettin such freaks into sports at all would a gain for humanity. Let Lebron be shooting hoops if that’s his thing. I believe tall people can be fast on skis too, they just need larger skis that are not made now, “lack of demand”.

    XC skiing is all about having family who is someone in XC skiing. Norway being the exception perhaps.
    You need to address kids who don’t live in snow-certain areas as well. That’s nice about swimming, you can do it everywhere.
    “Sell” XC some other way. Imagine NYC, how many potential XC medaillists might live there? Could such a huge metropol maintain a ski tunnel for instance? Oberhof in Germany, can. They get snow, but not the very best of winters. Few people live in that region. A good design makes it quite energy-efficient.
    A ski race in Central Park might not hurt things. Takes some guts to undertake such an event, though.

    Think outside the box, but stay close to the heart of skiing. It’s about peak fitness, and optimal life joy. Like “Wellness” which is hot in Europe, but than the hardcore variety.

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    davidf2d

    March 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Just why would Freeman respond here? Those who are calling for him to post are the same ones who are saying he’s no good, a jerk, should be dropped from the team etc. etc. Just because you have a keyboard and a modem doesn’t make you an expert. My question is : What gives you the right to demand that Freeman personally respond to your insults and putdowns?
    Dave
    P.S. The fact that the APU coach is faster than her skiers doesn’t say much about her coaching does it? Kind of like Gretzky coaching the Coyotes.

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    bigski

    March 6, 2010 at 11:47 am

    The APU coach is faster than all but one of her skiers and that skier did very well.

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    wave3formeee

    March 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Well I’m glad that this discussion is still continuing. Maybe, as someone mentioned before, we’ll get to see the USST personnel commenting on the great ideas we’ve got.

    Granted, this is a public forum and we’ve seen our fair share of joksters mucking up the waters, but I think there are some good things that will indoubtedly end up being of use to our national programs. I would like to see the issue of drinking buddy/harem member getting selected for the USST over those who are seemingly more qualified.

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    deanerbeano

    March 6, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Holly doesn’t coach the APU elite team, she coaches juniors and masters.

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    Jon44

    March 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Re: Freeman. On Len Johnson’s blog, he passes on info from Zach Caldwell that after the type of blood sugar crash Freeman had in the pursuit, it takes weeks to recover.

    My brother’s a Type I diabetic and this jives with his experiences–if he ever gets to the point of having to beg people for sugar, he’s in the hospital for at least week. Not sure people understand how serious a disease it is, and how amazing it is that Freeman is able to do what he does. (And as far as the article saying Freeman has no explanation, if you look at his blog, you can guess that maybe he felt burned talking to another “fasterskier” reporter after the 15K and didn’t want to repeat the mistake of talking openly (e.g., and be portrayed as whiner, etc.))

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I think any discussion on Freeman is mute, as he is a proven elite athlete capable of being one of the best in the world on any given day, and probably the best we have had since the mid-1980’s. and should be encouraged to find a way to continue. He had some bad races, no big deal, so did many other of the world’s elite at the Oly races. Same goes for Newell and Kikian in my opinion.

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    teamepokeedsbyn

    March 7, 2010 at 9:28 am

    moot

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    the new cloxxi

    March 7, 2010 at 11:36 am

    When we talk about the failure in the US for creating solid results on the WC circuit, we must look to how we support nordic skiing for all in the country. The parent as a role model is imperative. Take the Freemans’ old man…. he inspired those two, and had them out early on… he races himself and obviously has good DNA plus most importantly had a influence on the young tykes.

    While skiing I often see the young ski club at practice… and guess what? I see a whole lot of parents on the sidelines… they could be skiing too, but they are not… and if they do strap the boards on most of the time the won’t enter a race…. why? well several thoughts on this … we don’t do a very good job in the the USA holding simple, inexpensive citizen races. I have been racing for over 30 years… and you kn0w what… this year I didn’t race at all. Why? well the recession, I cant afford to race these races anymore. Most of the distance races cost $50+ these days, travel, lodging all because the local ski venues hold one or two races a year and at full profit cost.

    It used to be that racing was affordable… like the whole family could race…. not anymore… heck just to load up the ski with the flouros to be competitive at my M-3 group costs too much. So Dad and Mom elect to sit the sidelines… not everyone can afford the expensive gear, additive materials, and the right garb to compete…. so we lose role models right from the get go. How is this ever going to increase the ‘pool’ of talent.

    This is where our capitalistic culture does not fit ‘nordic ski culture’ … it is too often about money, and not about lifestyle. We are pampered and need all kinds of ridiculous extras at these race events…. bib packet with a bunch of junk in it… race course groomed to perfection, extra timers, all kinds of race personnel…. at the citizens level. So the cost of a race goes up and up. Instead of the weekly free race, or 5 buck entry….
    This is how the cycling community operates… no cost group rides, with sprint points…. getting Dad and Mom out every week, and they do look like heros to kids all suited up doing what keeps them fit and happy.

    This simply doesnt happen in the nordic community…. not enough citizen, local competetive experiences available. The closest I have ever come to this was in Jackson WY… it was called the sandbag series…. races at different local venues every week throughout the season…. and back then it was inexpensive… like I said 5 bucks a race…. it was part of your weekly schedule to get out and race, not sure if this still goes on there but I think it really worked. Dad and Moms, and single folk of older age raced…. not like the one expensive race a year. Hell, the West Yellowstone Rendezvous is 75+ bucks with no effort to reduce the cost in response to the recession…. makes no sense!

    Another point about citizen racing: How fun is it as you get older to race and see your results get lower and lower on the overall standings? Especially now even more so because of all of the sponsored elites that show up just to win the prize, and create a notch in their resume’ belt….. These guys show up with a quiver of skies…. in vans, and toast, locals, Dads and Moms possible good results…. so their goes the role model again….

    That’s it… enough of my point

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    Matt Daniels

    March 8, 2010 at 1:18 am

    There are plenty of kids in the sport and talented ones too. Most just don’t continue to get much faster after high school and college. Why? Limited financial benefit compared to other alternatives? Lack of knowledgeable coaching? Discuss.

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    schoski

    March 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Well, this is weird, but just to keep the “web of nordic drama” going, a few thoughts. If this were the NFL we’d fire all the coaches, spend a few million more for a new head, and get a quarterback who’d connect with a primo receiver, behind a stellar O-line, but we’re not. We live and breathe together as a competitive community, problem solving and head scratching together. So, let’s move beyond the cat scratching and Monday morning quarterbacking and assume a few knowns to move forward with.
    First, the coaching tech staff on any team is working hard and doing all they can to support the athletes, are also producing results to the best of their abilities.
    Second, this is not a cheap sport. We may have some entry level costs we can keep down, subsidize, grant and expand to broaden our base, but as skiers move up, every level costs more. More for travel, camps, coaching, equipment, the honor of traveling to Europe, and the time spent avoiding work while training or recovering from training. So, it’s a country club sport, until the US gets out of Afghanistan and related places, makes all the athletes honorary “Border Patrol” members who “work” two weeks per year and make a liveable wage and can continue skiing into their “golden ski years”, upper 30’s and early 40’s. Right. Or extensive sponsorship from the resurging US private economy. Maybe.
    A real positive is that we as skiers can ride the coattails of the Nordic Combined success and hope a little funding from whatever source will dribble down. Start jump’n everyone!

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    rdressen

    March 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I would have to agree with nyctvt. For years now, Freeman has been showing that he has more determination and guts then most but perhaps he should rethink his events and start doing the sprints & maybe the 15km. Freeman has proven faster then Newell in a number of sprint events, which may be an indication that he could get some top WC results that he deserves. These sugar crashes can’t be healthy and one would think the shorter events would allow him to better manage his blood sugar levels.

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    rdressen

    March 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    One more comment, the classic sprint event is just lame. Let’s keep sprinting to freestyle only, leave the pursuit, and either add a classic specific event or keep the 50km as a classic only race for the purist. When you think of sprint racing, you think top speed! Seeing a bunch of guys double pole next to each other is not nearly as interesting as a pack of guys skating to the finish fighting for position & some times tangling up & crashing.

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    skipow

    March 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Right on #178… if you were to break down a 700 hour training year in terms of paid hours that an athlete could be working… @$15/hr, it’s around -$10 grand loss. Not to mention the difficulties in being able to work even a part time job due to logistics of travel, rest/recovery, etc. Most of these athletes are young and broke with limited resources anyways. Add in the amount of food an athlete training this much needs to eat (they can’t live on doritoes and schlitz like somebody playing baseball) and the cost of this high quality food… It’s a financial impossibility.

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    Matti Rowrow

    March 16, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Where are the Drammen comments? Everyone has a voice when we fail but what about when we succeed? Isn’t a good result also an opportunity to evaluate what led to a positive outcome?

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    jpsiuk

    March 17, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Folks, I am Canadian. I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I was diagnosed (i.e., it hit me) about the same time in life as Kris Freeman, … and I skate and classic ski all winter long. I race as much as I can as well. Lake Placid 50 km and I go way back… it’s winning, but I return periodically.
    A low blood sugar incident while racing can SEVERELY beat your body up. (…I was crawling around in the snow at Lake Placid looking for food that was dropped by earlier skiers… not a high point in my sports experiences)
    Kris Freeman is not ‘new’ to racing, or to cross-country events. He was verrry ready for these Olympics. We were all watching and cheering for him. Unfortunately, the races did not unroll as we would have liked. The long races that go poorly can roll your performances back by 2 – 3 weeks.
    The results were not what we were hoping for, but, that’s life. I can guarantee you that as upset as any of us readers are, Kris F. is more upset, and, the pain and suffering he endured during his low blood sugar during a race was probably a worse feeling than any of us have had to date in 2010.
    Kris Freeman is still one of the best cross-country skiers in the world. We are lucky enough to be able to support him here. I certainly do.
    #180 [above] mentions some race targeting that might actually benefit the entire US Cross Country Program, Kris Freeman for sure, but likely the rest as well.
    PS – let’s not kid ourselves, the Europeans and the rest of the world are not just going to wait for us to take these titles from them; it’s important to them, and us; but, there can be only one gold medal. Thanks for your time. JP

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