FasterSkier caught up with Brett Camerota, 26, a silver medalist from the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver in the nordic combined team competition, as he was getting ready to head out to Brazil for a vacation with his brother Eric, also a US nordic combined skier, and some mutual friends.
After starting the season on the US Ski Team, Camerota opted to retire after a slow start to the year.
In November, half a year after the Olympics in Vancouver, Brett Camerota headed over to Kuusamo, Finland, for the FIS season opener. The summer had been the best in his career; Camerota was faster and better than ever. But then in the World Cup competition, things fell apart on the hill, which had always been Camerota’s strength as a nordic combined skier. The first month of the 2011 World Cup season was a road trip through Northern Scandinavian darkness and frustration.
“In the summer championships, I did really well. But as soon as the winter season started in Kuusamo, I lost the feeling for jumping and the cross-country was a struggle, and I had too much frustration,” Camerota recalled.
In February, he was no longer a part of the US Ski Team headed to the 2011 World Championships in Oslo.
“When I had no chance at making the World Championships in Oslo, I had reached my limits for frustration,” Camerota said to FasterSkier.
In mid-March, the talented 26-year-old retired from professional skiing.
“I got a little bit burned out on skiing last winter and I needed a change,” Camerota said.
“With all the pressure from the Olympics and all the attention after the Olympics, I wanted to keep going and see how it went. But I need a break. I want to do whatever I want to do for myself. It’s nice to walk away from it, including the training and team goals,” Camerota said.
“Maybe it’s because how much effort we put into the Olympics, the four-year block of training and then it went so well. After that, you think about whether you are in for it for another four-year block. If you want to be the best, you sacrifice a lot for training, and it was awesome, it was totally worth it,” Camerota explained, adding that he will return to school and plan to study finance at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.
Welcome on the team
Camerota discussed his decision to retire with US Nordic Combined head coach Dave Jarrett, who is sad to see him quit, but on the other hand also understands his decision.
“I told him that if he were to walk away from it all right now, he’d still be one of only four US Nordic Combined skiers to own an Olympic medal, and I would understand that,” Jarrett said to FasterSkier.
“It takes a lot to commit to the sport, and the season didn’t start the way he wanted to. He was ready to be done,” Jarrett explained.
While Jarrett understands and respects Camerota’s decision, he is still open to have him back on the team if Camerota should decide he wants to, once he has put this winter completely behind him. The US Ski Team criteria for the Nordic combined team is that an athlete who finishes in the top 50 of the world ranking is considered, the rest is up to the coaches. Camerota is still among the top 50 in the world.
“If he’d come back and recommit and do everything it would take to improve on the cross-country side, he has certainly earned it, and earned the right to be considered. But it requires a yes or no,” Jarrett said.
Camerota doesn’t rule out a comeback, after all, he is only 26 years old in a sport where it takes years to fully mature.
“Next winter, I am not going to ski. In a year, I might feel that coming back could be a lot of fun, but right now I need a break,” Camerota said.
Nordic combined: Two sports that fight each other
Jumping and cross-country skiing are not naturally complimentary sports. The training that goes into improving in cross-country, can negatively affect the performance on the hill.
Camerota was always good on the hill – his strength since he was a kid.
“Jumping I’d say is almost 100 percent mental once you’re at a level where you have the mechanics of it down. Cross-country is very much physical. In nordic combined, I needed to get faster, and too much of that training has an effect on the jumping,” Camerota explained.
“Once jumping clicks, you don’t want to affect it with too much of the cross-country training,” he said, adding that two workouts a day almost every day was a challenge.
Jarrett explained that Camerota, whose strength was on the hill, needed to jump well to have a competitive advantage.
“Jumping was his strong spot, and he needed to jump well to hold on to whatever spot he had. He did not jump well in Kuusamo and Lillehammer at the beginning of the season. But when you put all your eggs in the jumping basket and don’t jump well, you’re screwed.”
Brett Camerota at a glance
Born: January 9, 1985
Hometown: Park City, Utah
Merits: Silver medal, team competition 2010 Olympics, competed at the 2006 Olympics, the 2007 and 2009 World Championships, 23 World Cup starts since 2006.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.