RacingUS Ski TeamUSSA Announces Cross-Country Team Nominations, Team Size Decreased

FasterSkier FasterSkierApril 20, 201050

USSA has announced the nominations for the 2010 US Cross-Country Ski Team.  Seven athletes have been nominated – five to the A Team and two to the B Team.

Leading the way are Olympians Kikkan Randall, Kris Freeman and Andy Newell.  Newell and Randall both finsihed on the World Cup podium this year, while Randall set a standard for US women when she finished 8th at the 2010 Olympics.

Newell also just missed the top-3 in the FIS Sprint Cup, placing 4th, and in the running for the podium until the last event.

They are joined on the A Team by Liz Stephen and Morgan Arritola, both of whom also raced at the Olympics.  Stephen and Arritola spent 2010 on the World Cup for the first time.

Simi Hamilton, who finished 29th in the Olympic sprint, and Noah Hoffman are the only members of the B Team.

The Team continues to shrink, dropping from  18 members in 2009 to 11 in 2010 and now to 7.  The most notable absence is Torin Koos, the three-time Olympian and nine-year veteran of the USST.  Koss struggled through a tough year where he qualified for the World Cup sprint heats just once.

Also dropped from the Team – Lindsay Williams, Garrott Kuzzy, Morgan Smyth and Tazlina Mannix.

USSA XC Nominations

Kikkan Randall racing the Team Sprint at the 2010 Olympics

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50 comments

  • Avatar
    skinnyski23

    April 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    No Koos? He was 2nd in FIS points behind Newell, qualified 2nd at Canmore, won the season end sprint, and had the best American male performance at the Olympics. He’s the country’s best skier not named Randall, Newell, or Freeman.

  • Avatar
    teamepokeedsbyn

    April 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I nominate Bill Marolts 401k to the team!

    It is proven to be “best in the world” at making income under a non-profit x-c ski/jumping team format.

  • Avatar
    freeheels

    April 20, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    I guess they’re looking for results.

  • Avatar
    ski23

    April 20, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Yeah i guess they are?!!? “Grand Champion” Tad Elliott not on there. I guess there not looking for the fastest up and coming skiers.

  • Avatar
    Lars

    April 20, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Haveing a smaller team is not necessarily bad it gives evry athlete more time with the support staff and it could also help build better relations inside the team.

  • Avatar
    Erik_hendrickson

    April 21, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Thanks for all your hard work, Vorde.

    It looks like we are right back where we started from.

  • Avatar
    RealNillaz

    April 21, 2010 at 8:22 am

    No Koos? Seems pretty ridiculous to me. So he had a rough year so we should abandon him?

  • Avatar
    lahti

    April 21, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Maybe they were just getting high on 4/20 when they made the list and couldn’t remember everyone’s names???

  • Avatar
    crashtestxc

    April 21, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Haha…I think “lahti’ has it right!! What the hell is USSA doing? How can they keep cutting skiers that still rock domestically and hold their own internationally and not taking in new and up-and-coming skiers….

    Poor mistake…

    Go U…..S………uh…….NORWAY!!!

  • Avatar
    skierout

    April 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    What have you done for me lately?

  • Avatar
    Nordic Gal

    April 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    How can you have a US Ski Team if no one is on it?

    I see no reason not to name at least a dozen men and women to the team (not as if they are going to get any funding anyway)–at least when an athlete is named to the team it may help them with their credibility and thus helps them get their own sponsorship.

    Hi I am Joe Skier and I am 23 years old, never gone to college well not yet, but I am trying to make the US Ski Team please… vs. I am on the US Ski Team….!

  • Avatar
    bill mckibben

    April 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Let’s cut this down to two people. That way we could spare some more money to pay Bill Marolt what he’s worth.

    The ludicrousness of the USSA funding thing makes me angry. Why should anyone get paid $625k to do a job that should be the work of an inspired volunteer, willing to put out the same kind of effort as the skiers.

    I hope this is a story that Fasterskier keeps pressing on. Push hard to make it clear what a joke it is that we have the same amount of money to spend on nordic skiing, and on one guy’s paycheck.

  • Avatar
    Cloxxki

    April 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    More skiers at the Olympic Games than on the team?

    Either the US is granted to many starting places for such a serious event, or the athletes are better than the union supposed to be supporting them. Someone counted the money wrong, it seems.

  • Avatar
    Hayduke

    April 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Too bad these fasterskier reporters don’t dig a little deeper and talk to some real people. I’m sure Koos, a three-time Olympian who continues to rack up World Cup points and dominate domestically, and who is all of 30 years old, has something to say about being booted from the team. I’d like the think the coaches have some explanation about why they booted him from the team. Is it because he wants to retire? Is it because he’s no good? Is it because he’s too good? Is it because the coaches are off their rockers? Probably. Come on, fasterskier, do some footwork and figure out why perfectly good talent is being shown the door.

  • Avatar
    RonBott

    April 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Does anyone know what the actual annual budget for XC is for the 2010-11 season? There could be more to the story here. Maybe they will be investing in development programs instead of having a large USST. Personally I think the USST should be for individuals who are consistently competitive on a World Cup level, and as we all know we don’t have to many of those types. We should be spending our money on development programs that over time will hopefully supply a larger number of talented athletes to the USST levels. Just my opinion…

  • Avatar
    skier017

    April 21, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    They don’t need to dig any deeper…it’s pretty clear why Koos is no longer on the team. He has had very little success on the World Cup circuit in the last few years and has proven to be extremely inconsistent with his results. DEAD WEIGHT.

  • Avatar
    philsgood

    April 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    yeah, c’mon fasterskier. first you get scooped on the Marolt story by a podunk rag like the NY Times (and they still publish on paper…that’s so 2003), and now you expect to provide me all this free content without giving me every bit of info I demand?! I’m taking my rss reader and I’m outta here.

  • Avatar
    Tim Kelley

    April 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Seems like folks like @bill mckibben and others fail to understand the fundamental business model of non-profits like the USSA. In this business model rewards come to those that are the best fund raisers. If Alpine skiers win Olympic gold medals their fan and sponsor base writes bigger checks to the USSA, and the top alpine skiers are rewarded. If Marolt has the connections and influence to woo big corporate sponsors, then Marolt is rewarded. If the cross country skiers were winning medals at the Olympics, then more xc-oriented money would be coming to the USSA and the xc ski team would have more money. But that is not the case. There is a simple solution to low funding for the xc USST – ski faster and win Olympic gold medals. B*tching about how much Marolt makes is pointless and makes xc skiers look like pathetic whiners.

  • Avatar
    Erik_hendrickson

    April 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Ok, c’mon. It would be a little nice to know some of the backstory here. Basic facts like how much is the US ski team budget is for 2011? How does that compare to other years?

    I seem to remember back in 2007 when the US team got the “huge” bump in funding and was getting something like $1 million a year. Is that still the case? For the record, I dug up the NYtimes article from then (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/17/sports/othersports/17ski.html). What’s changed?

    We, the fasterskier readers, as USSA members (those who still play that game at least) deserve more than just a USST press release about why they made team decisions. It seems like they have kind of gotten rid of the Vorde effort of getting people named to the team and then developing them. But there are still a couple considered developing athletes (noah, morgan). That model of vetrans vs. development can be debated but it would be nice to know- why? I think a little explanation (and consistency from USSA and the coaches) would go a long way in making the expectations clear to athletes and keeping them in the sport longer.

  • Avatar
    drinkinginmyfreeaudi

    April 22, 2010 at 7:50 am

    As I see, you can’t have a bunch of fast skiers if they do not exist. Train all ya want, but you won’t be among the best if you are not blessed with the genetic gift. Many have doen the hours and travel, but do not have “it”. Ya gotta go find those freaks.

    The goal of the national association should be to seek/find new skiers in markets that do not exist today (increase participation in creative ways), which includes fully funding camps to introduce kids that have never tried the sport, and would “but for” a funded camp, and to fully fund those kids who cannot afford it and whom show promise (and, like college, I think it is approprate to look at the parents finacials when a kid is under 18 when considering funding needs) thus increasing the likleyhood of finding the genetic freaks, and creating long term association members and industry patrons. Gee, we might even see some elite athletes emerge in 10 years that have a skin color other than white – seems to have helped the golfing industry.

    perhaps $400k (from $650$) would go a LONG way in starting develpoment of the sport. Sorry, but under the current system, we are not finding the gifted athletes in large numbers, but rather 1 or 2, and several “decent” athletes. Bode’s, Lindsay’s, Tamara McKinney’s, the Mahre brothers, Bill Koch or Kris Freeman’s succes are/not a result of Bill Marolt’s unique fund raising or coaching, but a result of the money that came in from Team sponsors/Board members that resulted from those same results.

    Bottom line is as long as free-heel sports is sucking off the Alpine tit, playing by USSA/USST rules, the sport will never become self-sustaining in this country, and development will only mostly from kids of exisitng participants – thus very limited.

    See ya at the pub!

  • Avatar
    Mike Trecker

    April 22, 2010 at 8:06 am

    DrinkinginmyfreeAudi,

    Yes, this is right on.

    Like you said in your other comments, Even I can market Lindsey and Bode. But they didn’t succeed because of work Marolt did.

    Executives making big coin off of work that their grunts do is the American way. And when time gets tough, they cut a few grunts and score the bonus again. Simple. Why don’t we all do it?

  • Avatar
    joeconn4

    April 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    It’s announcements like this that tell me it is time for USA Nordic to leave USSA. I know all the arguments for why that couldn’t happen so no need to educate me. But it does seem that with these 5 skiers getting cut, as well as skiers like Southam, Elliot and Sargent not being named to the team, that we’re at the point where serious discussion of how XC fits into the US Ski Team plan is past due.

    Alternatively, why not just announce that NO skiers will be named to the USSA Cross Country Ski Team. The Regional/Club model seems to be gaining traction and seems to be having success (Simi, Kuzzy, etc). No reason why the 7 skiers named to the team couldn’t hook up with a Regional program and have the success/development in their home community that they’ll get via USSA. Have the USSA commit to some level of support internationally for skiers who perform at a certain level, and spend the rest of the money budgeted to USSA infrastructure related to Nordic supporting programs like APU, CXC, SVSEF, MWSC, NENSA, etc. Especially with 4 years to go before the next Olympics seems like a token 7 XC skiers on the USST is rather pointless.

  • Avatar
    Mike Trecker

    April 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I was thinking of all these organizations you list this morning. They represent the bulk of interested states; APU for Alaska, CXC for Minn/WI/MI, SVSEF for ID/UT/CO, MWSC for New England, NENSA for the same, and also XC Oregon. I think it’s time for the states themselves to get involved. If these organizations make it part of their mission to lobby for state grants on the premise that the national funding for this sport is not making it down to that level, yet they are doing all the work.

    Racers could wear state flags or symbols as their head gear sponsor in exchange for helping to market that state’s tourism, namely xc skiing. Down the road the states could petition congress for access to IOC funding on the basis that they are actually developing the sport and not the organization that is currently getting the IOC money.

  • Avatar
    JimGalanes

    April 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    All
    Is this thread about the team selection or Bill Marolts’ pay? Not related topics in my mind.

    If it is about Marolts pay then there is no discussion. While I don’t agree with the level of compensation, that is between Marolt and the BOD. The BOD obviously feels he has earned it. Last I heard professional sports were a capitallistic enterprise. I imagine the top athletes in alpine sking earn in excess of Marolts salary and yet there are no cries for them to contribute back or to reimburse for the the substaintial investement in their development. The USST recovers that investment in the sponsorhip dollars their performance generates.

    It is a misguided notion to think that if Marolt was paid less that it would go into cross country skiing. I bet all the programs would be grappling for additional funding were it available.

    The solutions presented are not viable. Restructing the sport or a new NGB will not happen because the leadership of the sport from the regional and national levels believe the current system is working well.

    The details of selection to this team that was recently nominated will probably never be shared. Who should or should not be on the team is open for debate. The fact is two sprinters and one distance skier have demonstrated excellence. The bottom line, Money follows success at the international level.

  • Avatar
    Nordic Gal

    April 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Topics are related.
    When Bode Miller pays for the team jackets (sure he could afford it but he didn’t have to od it and he didn’t make it public knowledge) he knew why it was important for the others to have a US Ski Team Jacket. But the CEO and the BofD don’t get it. That is the problem.

    We don’t have a US Nordic Ski Team. There isn’t enough to people to have a relay team. And golly a guy with a silver medal on the combined team just got named to the B team, oh lucky him.

    Again what is the harm of naming a dozen men and a dozen women to the A team and maybe just as many to the B team.?
    Certainly it would help each skier at so many different levels from fund raising to gettin a hard earned pat on the back. Why should we get so many spots to go to the Olympics if we can’t support our own?
    This should be about supporting our best athletes. Maybe they aren’t the best in the world but someday they just maybe.
    Special XC may go the way of the jumpers and we won’t have to blog about this topic anymore.

  • Avatar
    Erik_hendrickson

    April 22, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Jim,
    With all due respect, what are you talking about? Skiing is not a professional sport. It is an Amateur sport. That’s why you hear “Petter Northug of Norway, not Petter Northug of the Apple Ipod presents 2nd National Bank of Norway Racing team”. Ok, I know, I know, sponsors do play a big role BUT the main point remains that USSA runs Nordic skiing in this country and skiers are largely reliant on their support or (lack thereof.)

    I think it would be fun to get rid of USSA and have all Professional teams. Other sports like triathlon, cycling and mountain biking do it. Why not skiing? It would make skiers totally accountable to themselves for sponsorship and support and not USSA. I am sick of the argument “XC gets money it deserves based on the money it brings in”. XC doesn’t get a chance to raise it’s own money because of the big umbrella called the USSA.

    BTW, Canada has 7 skiers on the A team, 13 on its senior development team, and 12 on its junior development team. Does anyone seriously want argue that the US will be better off in 2014 because it is a leaner, meaner 7 member team? Ha.

  • Avatar
    Mike Trecker

    April 23, 2010 at 8:29 am

    The lines between pro and amateur are blurred or non-existent, and the FIS rules are clearly slanted in the favor of the Europeans, where press coverage up close allows small logos to be viable, and numerous interviews and tv coverage make the skiers household names.

    Pro cycling still has governing bodies, we don’t really need to get rid of USSA to have pro teams, we need the FIS rules to change, primarily in the area of logo restrictions, but also allowing teams made of racers from different countries. What if Andy Gerlach had the ability to field his own World Cup team, had no logo restrictions and could hire from whatever country he chooses? Where would Subaru be now? What really gives the FIS the right to clamp down on this?

    Or… go the completely the other way where the sport is totally state sponsored and the governments are responsible for fielding quality teams, not contracting the job out to a corporation that cares more about the bottom line than it does the skiers.

    We need to nurture and push all of the top skiers from each region. Sure, while I’m happy that Simi and Noah made the selection, I’m feeling for the other really strong skiers right here in our own area. Tad Elliott and Glen Randall are skiing great right now, Sylvan Ellefson is skiing really well and there are others. Several college skiers are about to end their careers and Carl Swenson proved it can be done after college. These guys need to be supported and also pushed, but there has to be a reason. Every region has great skiers, many would argue that they’ll never be fast. Perhaps, but if there is no framework for success and they see no light down the road, what’s the point. There has to be a structure that allows for American success. The point made above about Canada’s 32 skiers vs. the U.S.’s 7 and reference to the future is right on.

    Either through professionalism or pure amateurism, something has to change, we are waddling around in the middle and now Nordic Combined and Biathlon are dropping us. Something has to change for sure.

  • FasterSkier
    FasterSkier

    April 23, 2010 at 8:52 am

    There are some very good points here, and a some not so good ones as well. After US Nationals I wrote an article cautioning people about getting too excited about domestic results – that even success at an event like US Nationals is not a good indicator of international success.

    Mike lists some good US skiers – Tad, Glenn Randall, and Sylvan Ellefson. Nothing personal, but the only one of these skiers who has any future as a successful international skier is Tad. The other two are too old to ever compete at the top level of the World Cup. This does not mean that they are not excellent skiers and have untapped potential. But realistically, if these guys stick with it and things go well, they could be in position to make a Championship team in a 2-4 years, and maybe race a World Cup in North America along the way.

    Even Tad is a big question mark. He is 22 and has not yet had a notable international result – at World Juniors, U23, etc…Finishing 2nd at US Nationals, in the context of World Cup podiums, is just not that good.

    Remember, Kris Freeman, the only top-level US distance skier (capable of podiums) since the Koch era, won U23s.

    It is very dangerous to be unrealistic about the level of these athletes. There are always exceptions, and it is possible that over time, someone will beat the odds and go from a solid US domestic skier to the World Cup podium after showing no international results as a younger skier.

    And in terms of Swenson, an amazing athlete and great guy, but not a person we want our skiers to emulate in regards to results. While he was one of the best of his era, with the exception of several impressive races, he was mediocre internationally. Between 2001 and 2006, Carl had just one top-10 World Cup result.

    The only skier to come out of a full four year college program and reach the World Cup podium since the early 80s, or even be a consistent international threat is Torin Koos.

    There is absolutely no evidence that skiers could routinely attend a school full-time AND win medals. Of course, college is not the only issue – it is just one of many factors to consider when evaluating US skiing.

    If our goal is to have a large World Cup team capable of skiing regularly in the 30’s, with the occasional, points race, we could do that. The USST has the explicit goal of winning medals, and it does seem a small team, based on the athletes available right now, makes sense. The hope is that the pipeline will continue to develop and in future years the team will grow in size.

    It is completely reasonable to take issue with the goal of medals – maybe that shouldn’t be the priority. But claiming that Glenn Randall or Sylvan Ellefson should be considered potential top-3 World Cup skiers is just not realistic. I would be thrilled if they proved me wrong of course…

    The point about structure is a good one, and the idea seems to be that clubs will provide quite a bit of that. Look at Norway – relative to the number of fast skiers, there are not very many people on the National Team. Hopefully this type of system can continue to develop in the US. For whatever the reason, the USST does not have the resources to provide significant financial support to to lots of skiers. Should that money be spread out or concentrated on the top skiers? A valid question. But at this point, increased collaboration with a strong club system has the best chance of success. Garrott Kuzzy is a good example. He was not re-nominated to the team based on a lack of improvement internationally. He will however, have the opportunity to prove the USST wrong – he races for CXC which has an excellent program and supports athletes very well.

    If you look at the top clubs – APU, CXC, Sun Valley, and the up-and-coming ones, there are spots for dozens of top skiers – with excellent support. Making the USST shouldn’t be the goal – racing fast should be.

  • Avatar
    Mike Trecker

    April 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I can accept all that, except not emulating Carl. Would we be better off never having had Carl Swenson out there? Mediocre? Challenging for gold in the 50k? I’d take a couple dozen Carls. We will always have to deal with college and quality skiers. Matt Gelso is another example. Is he to just pack it in right now?

    Seriously, if our juniors are way, way too slow, and our college grads have absolutely no chance, what you’re telling me is that miraculously we will sort through every talented athlete between the ages of 20-24 and only those that skip school? That’s no plan, but it is a meat grinder, and what you’ll get is a so-called team of 7 people with crap support and tons of pressure.

  • FasterSkier
    FasterSkier

    April 23, 2010 at 11:06 am

    We are in transistion right now, and the hope is that continued work on the development pipeline will lead to a number of athletes between 20-24 who are on track to contend for medals. Unfortunately those skiers do not exist in this country right now.

    And the idea, whether you agree with it or not, is that the clubs will pick up the slack. So not a meat grinder at all – but a system where the top athletes get good support from USSA, and can focus on winning, while developing athletes are supported by clubs – and both collaborate on camps, trips, etc…

    I hope Gelso doesn’t pack it in. Hopefully he can settle in with a strong club, and take his skiing to another level. If his only goal is to win medals, however, he is not currently on pace to do that. So it also depends what the athlete’s goals are – to make the Olympics? To win the Olympics? To race as fast as they can?

    In terms of Carl, I disagree with you – with the exception of that 50k, we have had dozens of Carls – skiers who dominate domestically, and pop an occasional solid international result.

    If USSA released that their goal was to produce skiers that finished in the top-10 once every seven seasons, they would finally be run out of town.

    You can’t argue with the numbers, and the numbers say that Carl never consistently reached the highest level. If we want Olympic Champions, we need to set our sights much much higher.

    You are right that we have to deal with college, but just because it is there doesn’t change the impact. So far there is no indication that you can do both at the same time. That is a problem, and no easy answer. But supporting skiers who are not on track to win just because we don’t have anyone else to support doesn’t make sense.

    One more thing – and this is not meant as an attack on Mike personally – but I constantly see people get up in arms about their local guys – in this case Carl, Tad, Glenn, Sylvan. We need to support our local skiers on all levels. But don’t let personal connections and the emotions color the evaluation of ability.

    To build lasting success, there needs to be some degree of callous evaluation. Whether you agree with it or not, we are seeing that from the USST. Emotion and loyalty are not playing into their decisions. And while that doesn’t make their decisions correct, that is how the process should occur – if we want to win.

  • Avatar
    drinkinginmyfreeaudi

    April 23, 2010 at 11:13 am

    didn’t Freeman go to UVM?

    College is not the issue – gentics is, and namley the size (or lack thereof) of the pool from which x-c skiing in the US has to select from. Some good x-c distance skiers, but only 1 or 2 great ones.

    Very simple I think – if you do not show you are capable of skiing, on average, day in and out, per Km, within a given percent of WC podiums by age 25, you, and your sponsors, are wasting money and time – one will never be among the elite on a consistant basis.

  • FasterSkier
    FasterSkier

    April 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Freeman did not complete his time at UVM – I think he may have only been there for one year – certainly not 4….

  • Avatar
    Erik_hendrickson

    April 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    All I gotta say is who were the best US skiers at Vancouver- Southam, Kikkan, Compton, Simi, Arritola. In 3 of the 8 individual races it wasn’t someone with a USST in front of their name.

    The USST can’t predict results better than a magic 8-ball. And basically with a team that small that is what they are trying to do. Just give up and support ALL up-coming skiers as much as financially possible. Give them a chance to race in Europe and we just might see. Fasterskier implies that Tad Elliot will never be top 3 in the World cup. It is a improvable point because as long as he is not on the USST there is no reasonable he could be top-3 in a world Cup.

  • Avatar
    Big Joe

    April 23, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    As difficult as it is to admit — I think I need to agree with Mr. DrinkingInMyFreeAudi. The biggest single issue is genetic ability to move very fast. I am not a sport scientist so I do not know which tests would identify “real” talent. but i am confident the tests exist and I am likewise confident most of the individuals currently attempting to compete wouldn’t make the grade. Let’s devote some money to identifying real talent.

    As for the USST — cheers — every day is St. Paddy’s day!!!

  • Avatar
    nexer

    April 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Compton, Hamilton, Brooks, and Southam, all managed to make their way onto the Olympic team despite not being on the USST. The USST program does not make for better skiers. The only advantage the USST over regional programs is that they have the power to start whoever they choose in WC events.

  • Avatar
    triguy

    April 23, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I find it interesting that so many people on FS keep bringing up the ‘talent’ issue and suggest that testing VO2max is all that’s needed to create a better program. What complete BS!! The US system has a huge number of skiers, more than Canada and many european ‘powers’. Why are they not doing better?? Because the system and program is not in place to do any better. I would put much of the blame on the high school and college system since they take those ‘talented’ skiers and lock them away from the top level of training and competition. To be internationally successful (medals, not top-30’s) you need to be ‘all-in’ as the USSA likes to remind people. Look at the success of the Canadian men over the last 3-4 years, are they more ‘talented’ or do they have higher vo2 compared to the skiers 5-10 yrs ago?? I seriously doubt it. What is not in question is that they have the opportunity to do everyhing that is needed to be internationally successful, and that wasn’t available 10 yrs ago. Good coaches, programs, teams, camps and lots of WC race starts. They also believe that they can win and don’t settle for top 30 or just making the team. The size of the Canadian team is a little misleading, most of those athletes are training with other progams or in clubs. The NST skiers get federal carding money and that is part of the reason the team is so big.

    So, the USST seems to be trying to make a cultural change to get people 100% committed to being WC medal contenders. Sounds logical to me, full attendance at all USST camps and trips should just be the starting point. I think they would be better served to expect everyone on the USST to be a full time resident at a single team training location year round. Those committed, identified skiers need to push each other every day in training, instead they are working in club programs and being the top dog every day in training and not getting faster.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents from north of the border.

  • Avatar
    nexer

    April 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Triguy, in Canada there is a more comprehensive social safety net than there is here in the US. That’s the difference. Only those who feel they can provide their children with their own safety net would feel comfortable with having them go, as they say, “all out.”

  • Avatar
    teamepokeedsbyn

    April 23, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Does X-C Canada in fact have less registered junior x-c ski racers than the USSA? I am curious to know if that is a fact as noted by TriGuy.

    Regardless, I would venture to guess that, using our “snowbelt” states only, that Canada has more registered junior skiers per captia the here in the US.

    Also, VO2 numbers do not make a champion, but you won’t be a champion without them. Commmon sense and experience tells me that just training the hours and intervals, no how bad you want it, will get you there if ya don’t have the VO2 numbers to begin with.

  • Avatar
    JimGalanes

    April 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    teamepokeedsbyn
    I believe you are right. Countless studies have been done over the years on VO2max. While it is not directly correlated to finish ranking, it has been shown that as a group the top level of athletes all have very high oxygen uptake. The message is relativly simple, to get to the elite level you need to have a very large aerobic capacity, once you have that then other factors like lactate buffering, technical efficiency, power production, become more important.

    It has been reported that some of the top Norwegian men in the last decade have had VO2maxs’ of more than 90ml/kg/min. The bottom line is that someone with 70-75 ml/kg/min will have no chance to consistently perform against racers with much higher capacity.

    Seems to me that we should be focused on identifiying junior athletes with this potential and then working with them over the years required to fully develop their capacity.

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    skinnyski23

    April 24, 2010 at 2:23 am

    fasterskier, I strongly disagree with two of your statements earlier in the discussion:

    “And in terms of Swenson, an amazing athlete and great guy, but not a person we want our skiers to emulate in regards to results.”

    “In terms of Carl, I disagree with you – with the exception of that 50k, we have had dozens of Carls – skiers who dominate domestically, and pop an occasional solid international result.”

    As you say, “you can’t argue with the numbers”. Not even looking at the 50 K, at the World Champs he took 24th in the Sprint, 11th in the 20K double pursuit (only 5 seconds out of gold). In the world cup he placed 11th, 11th, 12th, and 13th in the 10, 15, 15, and 30K, and one of those 15K was classic. Throw in his 5th at the World Champs, and the stellar anchor leg he skied in the 4×10 matching Hoffman who was likely juiced at the time to 5th, and you have one of the top US ski performers all-time.
    “Dozens of Carls”?? You can’t name a half dozen skiers from the US in the past 2 decades who are/were at his level in his prime. You’re a fine photographer, but as a ski journalist, you could stand to do a lot better research before making such statements.

  • FasterSkier
    FasterSkier

    April 24, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I stand by the fact the neither the USST or the greater ski community should be satisfied with one top-10 World Cup result in a seven year period. Carl’s championship performances were excellent, his relay leg in the 2002 being the brightest spot.

    That said, I thought we were all hoping to have skiers who could consistently challenge for medals and top finishes. One race (the 2003 20k pursuit) within reasonable striking distance of a medal is certainly not what I hope for the future of our top skiers.

    I believe we can win medals, and even be in position to fight for them consistently. Carl was one of the best skiers of the last 30 years at his prime, but his prime was short, and I think we should be shooting for more.

    The funny thing is that I am getting blasted for saying that we want to be faster than Carl was at his prime, but the USST would be blasted if they stated they were satisfied with those types of results and settle for that.

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    skinnyski23

    April 24, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Actually you’re getting blasted for saying that the US has had “dozens of Carls”. Name just one dozen American born skiers who have had the international ski success that Carl has. The unfortunate truth is that you can’t.

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    Marjot

    April 27, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    It sounds to me as though “FasterSkier” made some solid connections with the USSA executive elite, and top downhill fundraisers, at the 2010 Olympics. Seems “he” knows how to “support” the USSA ski team salaried staff, and, blatantly lobby for a ski team journalist spot covering other countries skiers, by pointing out the USA athletes (not USSA programs’) failings prior to the next Olympics. I receive the USSA fundraising requests and they don’t allow me to indicate that I care about XC skiing and not the rest. It is not possible to designate XC skiing “only” on a donation. I think I helped Body Miller make it to the Olympics again!
    To support the idea that there are no 18-23 year olds in the USA pipeline capable of international success is to flat out state that “the USSA plan” is out of touch with the actual numbers and potentials of one of the most populous countries in the world. If I could find a dedicated, qualified and talented athlete, I would love to sponsor them and prove the USSA leaders and “FasterSkier” wrong. I would care about their VO2 max if they were not already a winner, however. (Regardless of Triguy and Nexer… I have an advanced degree in exercise science..)
    This will not happen, because the USSA controls who can make the XC team qualifying standard by controlling who gets the starts for the USA on the WC. Perhaps it is a budget issue, and, if they let individuals with potential start, they might have to spend more money when those individuals proved to be competitive by the end of a season not interrupted by travel back and forth to the USA two or three times during the winter. (How much does that cost when multiplied by all 7 athletes flying ?)
    Ever wonder why the USA sends the A team athletes to the North American point races? It keeps the top points among the athletes already on the team! (Although it was embarrassing in 2009/2010 for the USSA to see the majority of USSA Team members resoundingly defeated in every race they skied in the USA and Canada.) It is all about the budget, the salaried officials, and not about the potential or the desire for development. Once you have been to the Olympic insider administrator trough, you will never need to see an athlete’s point of view again. It used to be this way in cycling and running.
    Until there are objective benchmarks to meet and allow an up and coming XC skier to know that “if I meet them, I will be on the team” that don’t include the WC which is not available to any USA skier not already on the team, I for one, will not be supporting the life style of the Olympic entourage sans athletes.

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    nexer

    April 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Marjot, that’s what Nike did. They took two Kenyans and sent them to Finland for two years.

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    Marjot

    April 28, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    And Nexer you mean what? Your code speak may sound good but Nike did quite a lot to reward performance over pedigree.

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    triguy

    April 29, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Marjot, good to hear that you have a degree, I also have a sport sci degree. If vo2 was so important it would be the number 1 criteria in all ski programs and we could probably just test vo2 and give out the medals, right?? Didn’t think so. Lots of other things come into ski racing, technique, efficiency, mental, etc. I would consider a skiers attitude and mental ability as the best indicator of ‘talent’, I can give you plently of examples of skiers that had superior Vo2 scores that counldn’t even crack the top 30 at nationals. There is certainly no problem hunting for great runners/bikers/rowers and seeing what they can do on skis, but I wouldn’t be giving them WC starts based on vo2 and theoretical potential. They need to prove that they can ski and win domestically first, WC and European starts come later. I also wouldn’t put athletes on the team that are equally focused on another sport in the summer, you just can’t invest in someone that has a split focus. If they are going great in the early season races and winning domestically, find a way to get them to Europe a WC or OPA races and see what they do.

    You have a lot of conspiracy theories of why the USST is trying to keep the people down and stop the sport from developing. Maybe it would be best to get a clue about the sport and the organization before you waste your time on these things. Chris Grover has posted the USSA ‘vision’ that lists one of the top priorities supporting a full European circuit for the ‘2nd’ tier skiers to get the experience they need. They also mentioned that others would potentially get WC starts based on race results next season, so things aren’t limited to only the USST athletes. As I mentioned in a previous post, you can also win the FIS Regional Series spot from the SuperTour (or NorAm – Canada) races and in 2012 Canada will be hosting more WC races that offer Nations Group spots at what is usually a soft field.

    I think one of the biggest problems that we have in North America is that many people are trying to ‘beat’ the National Team skiers to prove that they are right and the USST is wrong. What a complete waste of time, why not consider everyone as part of the same system just with different roles. As a country you are trying to beat the other countries, not yourself. Chris Grover (and Marty hall I think in another post) mentioned this in his letter and hopefully that will work up and down the system so that all the different groups can work together towards the goal of being a top skiing nation. Beating a USST skier that is back of the pack internationally just means that you are back of the pack internationally, it doesn’t get you any closer to the Norwegians/Russians/Germans of the world.

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    nexer

    April 29, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Marjot, Nike took Philip Boit and Henry Bitok from Kenya and paid for their XC training. Neither one did as well as hoped despite their superior VO2max.

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    Matti Rowrow

    May 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Randy Gibbs, who has volunteered his time as a USST service staff the past few years, told me that Noah Hoffman had a VO2Max measured at 88ml/kg/min, which bettered Freeman’s who was around 84ml/kg/min. Commenters on this thread have mentioned that we don’t have the ‘genentic-freaks’ in skiing needed to make it at the highest level. Tell me how you can get more ‘freak’ than Hoffman. He definitely has the oxidative credentials to compete with anyone, but his results over the past two years has stalled. So, given Noah’s notorious drive to train and his physical potential, what gives? Training. It’s all about the training.

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    Mike Trecker

    May 5, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I don’t know the numbers but I’d be willing to bet that Tad Elliott and Glen Randall’s physiological numbers are near those of Noah. They are also freakishly fit.

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