When the head of F.A.S.T. Performance Training in Hayward, Wis., Bill Pierce heard Tad Elliott pulled off a cross-Atlantic trip to win the American Birkebeiner last February, he knew he had to have him back in town.
Matt Liebsch, one of the Midwest’s nordic heroes and 2009 Birkie champion, thought the same.
In July, F.A.S.T. held its first “Train Like a Birkie Champion” citizens training camp of the year after Liebsch, an XC United skier, reached out to Pierce about coordinating clinics. Pierce was all for it, and Liebsch suggested adding Elliott, a U.S. Ski Team (USST) member and former Central Cross Country (CXC) skier, to coach at future camps. Pierce immediately sought him out for the second one Oct. 26-28.
“I talked to Tad about two months ago and I said, ‘I’ve got one open weekend,’ ” Pierce said on the phone Wednesday. “He said, ‘That’s the same one I’ve got.’ ”
Empathizing with Elliott’s busy USST schedule, one in which Pierce figures “hardly gives [its athletes] time to sit down,” he was impressed with Elliott’s enthusiasm.
“The cool thing about this kid is, against the advice of his coaches and his dad, he flew home [from the World Cup] … and did the race and flew back to Europe,” Pierce said of Elliott, who won the Birkie’s 50-kilometer skate with the second-fastest time in race history.
Elliot will pull off a similar yet smaller-scale feat when he leaves the upcoming USST camp Canmore, Alberta, one day early to coach at the “Train Like a Birkie Champion” weekend clinic Oct. 26-28 in northern Wisconsin. According to Pierce, Elliott will fly out of Canada early Friday, Oct. 26, and will arrive in Minneapolis by noon. There, Liebsch will drive him to Seeley, just north of Hayward, to lead a dryland skills-and-technique session that evening. After three days of instructing, he’ll fly home Sunday night to Park City, Utah.
“I love going back to the Midwest and seeing the huge enthusiasm they have there for nordic skiing,” Elliott wrote in an email. “I will get to do the Birkie clinic with one of my close friends Matt Liebsch [and hopefully see] his wife Mary-Beth and their two young kids Grant and Samantha. I got to stay with them for two weeks last year and they took incredible care of me. Looking forward to seeing Bill Pierce. Sounds like this clinic is really well organized looking forward to going to it.”
“He’s doing this because he likes the Birkie,” Pierce said. “The kid’s got so much positive energy.”
Pierce likes to tell his juniors about Elliott and his USST teammate Noah Hoffman and their results at the 2006 Junior Olympics. Seven years ago, they finished around 28th and 30th place, he said. Now look where they are.
“It’s kind of cool to see where these kids come from and a progression,” Pierce said. “They made a choice to pursue a passion, and that’s what the focus is for.”
More on the “Train Like a Birkie Champion” Camp Series:
October 26-28, 2012; Hayward, WI – “Train Like a Birkie Champion”
“Live & Ski Like a Champion”
Purpose: This camp designed for the Master/Citizen athlete that wishes to improve and progress their skiing while fitting the demands of lifestyle, family, and work into their schedule. Sessions will be held on technique, flexibility, strength, and ski skills along with discussions on the body and the affect of aging.
Abilities: This camp is designed and open to all abilities of skiers. You do not have to roller ski to attend this camp. We are showing you what it takes to progress to your goals of skiing no matter where you are with your abilities as a Nordic skier. So, whether you are an elite wave athlete or an aspiring athlete wishing to compete in your first Birkie, this camp will train, inspire, and motivate you to your best Birkie! Don’t pass on a great opportunity to train with and meet Birkie Champions.
Guest coaches include 2012 Skate Champion Tad Elliot and 2009 Skate Champion Matt Liebsch.
Participation limited to 30 athletes.
Friday, October 26, 2012:
3-5pm: Check in at Lenroot Lodge and Sawmill Saloon
5-6:15pm: Intro to the fundamental movements of Nordic skiing with Bill Pierce. Dryland skills and technique
6:45-8:30pm: Fish fry dinner at Moose Lips with discussions with Dr. Brent Carlson.
8:30-10pm: Discussions and demos on skis and waxing at Moose Lips.
Saturday, October 27, 2012:
7:30am: Morning run and swing out
8-9:00am: Breakfast on your own
9:00-10:15am: Flexibility and stretching session with Jay Tapper.
10:30am-Noon: Basic skate technique session with video with Bill, Matt, and Tad.
Noon-2:00pm: Lunch at the Sawmill Saloon, video review.
2-5:00pm: Skate roller ski session with specific strength drills and skills with Bill, Matt, and Tad.
6-7:30pm: Dinner at the Rivers Eatery in Cable
8-9:30pm: Chat with the Champions, dessert and coffee at Rivers Eatery with Matt and Tad.
Sunday, October 28, 2012:
7-8:00am: Breakfast on your own
8-10:00am: Classic or skate technique session with specific strength and video with Bill, Matt, and Tad.
10:30-Noon: Video review technique discussions
Noon: Check out and camp departure
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.