Torin Koos, who just completed his first season outside of the US Ski Team structure but still managed to qualify for a spot on the squad representing the United States at the 2011 World Championships in Oslo, is hungry for more.
“I plan to race through 2014, so I’m recharging the batteries as the moment,” Koos said. “My goal is to have top results in both the 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme and in Sochi 2014 [at the Olympic Games].”
After spending last season living in Mazama, Washington as part of the Methow Olympic Development Project (MOD) working with coach Scott Johnston, Koos will be on his own for the 2012 season, but doesn’t think pursuing his goals outside the US Ski Team, and without a formal coach will be a disadvantage for him.
“Doing it this way gives me the opportunity to do what I am doing and spend time where I want to be,” Koos said, adding that after a decade on the international circuit he feels that he knows how to put together a training plan.
“It’s not rocket science,” said Koos, who is turning 31 in July.
On Monday May 9, Koos moved to Utah and drove straight to campus to attend his first classes of the spring/summer term at Westminster College. His tenure on the US Ski Team, which ended after the 2010 Olympic season, earned him free tuition at Westminster College.
“I’m excited to get back into that and get going on my degree again,” Koos said to FasterSkier.
While Koos is going back to school this spring to complete his master’s degree, he is planning to race full time in the winter. He started the degree – a Masters of Professional Communication with emphasis on Internal Business Communication – in the summer of 2005.
He considers the 2005-06 season the breakthrough year in his skiing career, so going back to the program he started prior to that brings back good memories.
Koos will go to school full-time this spring/summer and fall, and then again next spring/summer and fall. If all goes according to plan, he will receive his degree in the end of the fall term 2012. That progression leaves him free to pursue skiing full-time in the winter.
Training in Norway
The fall term ends in mid-December, and Koos plans on heading to Rumford, Maine for US Nationals in early January.
After Nationals, Koos is making plans to spend a large chunk of the winter in Trondheim, Norway, training with the Strindheim ski club – the club that is home to World Champions and Olympians Petter Northug and John Kristian Dahl.
“I plan on spending the heart of the winter training with the best skiers in the world. I think that must be one of the best clubs in the world,” Koos said,.
“They have 11 medals from the Worlds, nine golds. It seems like a good club. They’re into skiing for sure,” Koos noted.
Coming up on a season with no major events or championships, Koos is looking forward to get back in shape after a bout of mono this spring as well as rehabbing from a shoulder surgery in May.
Koos crashed in a sprint race just prior to the World Championships in Oslo, and dislocated his shoulder. He was able to keep the pain under control for the rest of theseason, but realized he needed to fix the problem. With a more relaxed race schedule this upcoming season, it seemed like the best time to have a 2-month break from training would be right now.
“Now is the time to do it. I’ll have six weeks of no movement at all; I’ll even be sleeping with it pinned down somehow. Then I’ll start some light physical therapy, and after two months I expect to start training for skiing,” Koos said.
Ups and downs
Koos’ main goal for the 2011 season was qualifying for the World Championships in Oslo, even though he had to do that without the support of the US Ski Team. He achieved that goal, but was not able to perform at his best due to the shoulder injury.
Marred with both accidents and injuries, and then coming down with mono at the end of the season, Koos was looking for a change as the 2011 season came to a close.
“I was looking for a move in terms of school and to move on as a skier and athlete. I had my breakthrough years in Utah in 2005-06, and I felt like coming back to an environment that I know works for me, a place where I’ve had success before,” Koos explained.
Splitting from MOD
Koos left MOD after the World Championships in Oslo. And while Koos and MOD head coach Scott Johnston originally intended to work together for longer than the fall and winter, the relationship came to an earlier end.
“It wasn’t the plan. The plan was to continue on for longer than this season. I really don’t want to comment on that,” MOD head coach Scott Johnston said.
However, looking back at the 2010-11 season, a lot of things went well, Johnston said.
“From the mechanical end, the season went very well. Everything was according to plan. Torin was headed in a great direction until he dislocated his shoulder just before the Worlds in Oslo,” Johnston said, pointing out that Koos won a couple of National Championship titles (classic and skate sprints) and a sixth place in the 15K classic in Rumford, Maine, in January.
Johnston and Koos have not worked together since World Championships. Koos stayed in Europe to continue racing there while Johnston returned to the US to help his other MOD Squad athlete, Sam Naney, at the USSA SuperTour finals in Sun Valley, Idaho.
When Koos mentioned to Johnston that he wanted to move away from Mazama and go back to school, Johnston encouraged the change.
“He had the opportunity to have free tuition at Westminster College, even though he was no longer on the US Ski Team, and he would have to go to Salt Lake City to do that. I don’t think that will negatively impact his training program. He has training partners there and I actually think that will be a really good thing for him to combine school with athletic pursuit,” Johnston said.
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.