Note: This is the 11th preview in our U.S. elite-team series, the “The 12.” We asked coaches to tell us what’s new and whom to look out for this season, and we’ll publish the final U.S. preview as well as Canadian training-centre profiles in the coming weeks.
Team: CXC Team
Coaches: Bill Pierce (elite head coach), Yuriy Gusev (executive and athletic director), Igor Badamshin (high-performance advisor, CXC Team head coach), Andrew Keller (development coach), Andrew Poffenberger (sports manager).
Roster: Karl Nygren, Eric Wolcott, Tom Bye, Dmitriy Ozerski; Corrine Malcolm
Who’s new: Bye, who raced for Eden Prairie High School and is taking a post-grad year before skiing for the University of Utah, according to Pierce.
Ozerski, a Russian, joins the team as a marathon skier and trained with CXC for nearly 2 1/2 months this summer in Cable and Hayward, Wis. He’s back in Russia now, but Pierce says he’ll return for the opening SuperTour races in November in West Yellowstone, Mont.
Previously on the US Biathlon national team, Malcolm had to do some soul searching this spring when she was not renominated. She moved back to her college town of Bozeman, Mont., to finish her degree at Montana State University. Upon visiting her hometown of Hayward for the CXC Regional Elite Group (REG) camp earlier this summer, Malcolm signed on with CXC, but will continue to train in Bozeman.
Who’s missing: Jennie Bender (now with the Bridger Ski Foundation in Bozeman), Brian and Caitlin Gregg ( joined the Methow Olympic Development team in Washington while continuing to live and train in the Twin Cities), Nichole Bathe (University of Alaska Fairbanks freshman), Adam Martin (Northern Michigan University freshman), Doug Debold, who “went on with life,” according to Pierce.
Top results last season: In a phone interview, Pierce said the team’s in a rebuilding year and moving on after some less-than-stellar results in 2012/2013. Nygren, 26, went from second on the overall U.S. SuperTour standings in 2011/2012 to 19th last season, logging his best results in sprint qualifiers at the SuperTours in Minneapolis and Madison, Wis.
A CXC junior development coach from 2007 to 2010 who went on to lead his own F.A.S.T. Performance Training team, Pierce became CXC’s elite coach in May and started off by meeting with his athletes, including returners Nygren and Wolcottt.
“A lot of them are in flux and weren’t satisfied where they were, Karl especially,” Pierce said. “He has the gifts and the talents to do that, and we’ve already been making big steps in the first three months of training.”
Wolcott, 26, “felt fatigued and not recovered from his workouts,” Pierce explained. “We’re in a rebuilding year with him, too.” He was sixth in the freestyle sprint qualifier at U.S. nationals in January in Midway, Utah, and went on to tie Nygren (and Ozerskiy) for second in the freestyle sprint qualifier in Madison.
Coach’s comment: Coming into the CXC picture in May, Pierce said he didn’t have a chance to recruit, but that’s already on his radar. This season, he said each of his athletes have set realistic goals — not necessarily Olympics-oriented — because there are so many other races and objectives to focus on throughout the winter.
“We’re looking at the top SuperTour spot,” he said. “Our goal is to get athletes to the top of the SuperTour, to get them to the World Cup, to get them to the OPA Cup, and as times goes on we hope [the unit] steps up.”
According to Pierce, “Corrine was about to give up on biathlete and I didn’t think she should do that yet. … She’s got to put in some training and we’ll see what happens when she does some cross-country racing.” He asked her to compete at the North American Biathlon Rollerski Championships (which doubled as US Biathlon overseas camp trials) last month, “just so she stays engaged in biathlon,” he said. After two days of racing in Jericho, Vt., she ended up 14th.
This week, Nygren will join the U.S. Ski Team (USST) and National Training Group (NTG) in Lake Placid, N.Y., then meet CXC in Park City, Utah, for the beginning of another USST camp in late September. CXC will then travel north as a unit to Canmore, Alberta, for some on-snow training in October on Frozen Thunder.
As for the transition, Pierce said he’s impressed with guys like Nygren, who have stuck with the team through several coaching changes in the last few years.
“They’re resilient and they’re patient,” Pierce said. “Karl’s first year was [USST Development Coach Bryan] Fish’s last year and my last year at CXC. He’s seen four coaches in six years. Good or bad people have left for different reasons.
“I look at Karl and I see what he’s got to tweak,” he added. “Physically he’s one of the biggest and strongest there is, but why isn’t he the fastest and why did he decline last year? I think at first, [the athletes] were skeptical to listen to me because they’ve heard this before and results have ebbed and flowed, but I think they’re willing to give it a chance.”
Other previews: Alaska Pacific University | Bend Endurance Academy |Bridger Ski Foundation | Craftsbury GRP | Maine Winter Sports Center | Methow OD | SSCV/Team HomeGrown | Stratton Mountain School T2 | Sun Valley SEF Gold Team | XC Oregon
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.