GeneralInterviewsNewsRacingWorld CupHanneman, Disappointed But Undeterred, Takes World Cup Experience into World Champs Quest

Avatar Chelsea LittleDecember 16, 201422
Reese Hanneman racing the World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland. Photo: Toko.
Reese Hanneman racing the World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland. Photo: Toko.

DAVOS, Switzerland— Reese Hanneman knows he’s skiing well. Reese Hanneman also knows he’s not skiing well. And that pretty much sums up the experience of racing the World Cup in period one, when your first races of the season are against the world’s very best.

“This is really hard,” Hanneman told FasterSkier at the finish of Saturday’s 15 k classic race. “I think people really underestimate how hard it is to go from racing well in the U.S. to racing well here on the World Cup.”

The Alaskan skier, who will turn 25 in ten days, earned his World Cup start rights by winning the season-long SuperTour series in the United States last year. Starting at the end of November, he’s been in Europe toeing the line in races that represent a career goal for many domestic competitors.

“I’m used to having these really good sensations,” Hanneman said. “[At home] even when I’m suffering, I can be winning the race. That’s really motivating. Over here, you’re really suffering and you might be skiing the same speed, but you’re four minutes out. You’re just getting blown by. It has been a really good learning experience and unless you have these learning experiences, it’s going to be really hard to ever be successful over here.”

Wearing a black race suit painted in stars and strips, Hanneman is representing the U.S. for the second time in his senior career. He also got a trip to World Cup finals in Falun, Sweden, last season, also by way of leading the SuperTour.

Reese Hanneman (APU) celebrates his victory as he crosses the finish line at the conclusion of the classic sprint A-final at U.S. National Championships, Soldier Hollow, Utah, in January 2014. Photo: Tom Kelly/U.S. Ski Team.
Reese Hanneman (APU) celebrates his victory as he crosses the finish line at the conclusion of the classic sprint A-final at U.S. National Championships, Soldier Hollow, Utah, in January 2014. Photo: Tom Kelly/U.S. Ski Team.

But the field for World Cup finals is limited to the best World Cup racers and the Continental Cup leaders from different regions. Back then, Hanneman had also had an entire season to build into the competition. He was confident and knew exactly how he was skiing.

Starting off the season on the circuit is an entirely different experience.

“It’s no secret that period one is by far the most difficult period of the year,” Hanneman explained. “The first two weekends are in Scandinavia, and so with the Nations Group and the mini-tour, they just have a ton of guys. And everyone from Finland and Norway is, they all had to be on form to even qualify for those races. So the fact that they are all there racing automatically means that they are just crushing it.”

Hanneman also upped his training substantially in the off-season. He knew it was a risk that might slow him down temporarily, but it’s now also hard for him to tell what the effect was: is he really racing badly because of it, or is the competition just so much better than what he’s used to that it feels that way?

“It’s really unforgiving,” Hanneman said. “I’m probably skiing decently well, if I were in the U.S. I’d probably think I was doing fine. But over here you just mentally get destroyed.”

His ultimate goal for the season is to make the U.S. team for World Championships, which will be back in Falun. With that in mind, he put together his plan for the off-season.

“I put in a huge summer and fall of training,” he said. “Definitely way harder and more training than I’ve ever done. So I was hoping that– that was with the goal, I was hoping all that fitness would come through way more than it has. Even though I knew that I wouldn’t be in peak form, I was hoping that I’d be skiing pretty well… I’m just trying to stay positive and not – I know I can ski better than I am right now, so I hope it’s just a matter of time and that at some point this season I’ll be crushing it.”

Reese Hanneman (bib 77) in the 15 k classic in Davos.
Reese Hanneman (bib 77) in the 15 k classic in Davos.

In Saturday’s 15 k classic, Hanneman placed 79th of 81 finishers (the only other American in the race, Hanneman’s Alaska Pacific University teammate Erik Bjornsen, placed 48th with a time about three minutes faster).

That hurts, but there were a few other things going on to contribute to the disappointing result that day, too.

“I actually had a cold yesterday and the day before, so I wasn’t even planning on racing today,” Hanneman explained. “But I woke up feeling a little better than I thought, and I figured that if I had the opportunity to race another World Cup, I should probably take it as long as I felt like it could be productive.”

On Sunday, Hanneman placed 86th in the freestyle sprint.

He’s trying to keep the long game in perspective, both for the season, and his career. To race against the world’s best is one benefit of the trip; another is to learn from Bjornsen and U.S. Ski Team sprinters Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton.

“There’s three ski team guys here and then me,” Hanneman said. “It can feel like there’s 50 Norwegians in the start pen and it’s just Erik and I bumping fists, like, ‘all right buddy, here we go!’ But he’s skiing pretty well, and it’s fun to ski with these guys because they’re all pretty successful. Erik is a really good all-around skier. I just try to learn from them, and hope to join them at more of these races.”

First, he’ll head back to the United States in January to race at U.S. National Championships in Houghton, Michigan. Last season, Hanneman won his first ever national championship in the classic sprint. He was also second in the 15 k classic and third in the freestyle sprint; at the end of the season, he was third in the marathon at distance nationals.

Those are happy memories, and Hanneman hopes that racing stateside will help him get his mojo back. He’s been watching the SuperTour and Canadian NorAm results roll in from across the Atlantic.

“I know a lot of those guys are skiing really fast,” he said. “I think that the level of U.S. skiing is going up, for sure. But I’m also excited to go back, and hopefully get on the podium and get some good positive reinforcement. Those guys are skiing fast, but I know I can ski at least that fast. I’m excited to try to get my head out of this hole a little bit.”

If he can accomplish that, he feels that his World Championships goal should be attainable.

“I know that if I ski to my capabilities, ski like I was skiing last year, that I can make it no problem,” he said. “Well, not no problem, but I can make that team. So that’s my goal. But I also don’t want to just hang everything on one event. I’ve already raced more World Cups here than I would ever race at World Championships. I’ve gotten more experience and it has been much more of a significant experience instead of just showing up for one race.”

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Chelsea Little

Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.

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22 comments

  • Avatar
    Martin Hall

    December 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Reese—so you upped your hours—anywhere near 850-900 hrs—-if not, that’s how far you are behind the Euros and they have done it with a normal progression. If you have made a 100-150 hr jump—that is big—someone you could talk about this with who had the same experience—Kris Freeman many years ago.Not only have you put yourself behind by not doing the progression of hours you needed to be doing, you missed multiple years of racing at THAT LEVEL at the right time. Read what you wrote to yourself again—as it is very profound and I applaud you for doing it—it should be awake-up call for you and other young skiers already on this path.
    I don’t know why coaches and their associations are so reluctant to talk and publish these numbers and reinforce the need for proper progression—but they just are. I will receive a lot of negative feedback for what I’ve said—but the intent is to help you and others to understand the process. It will be a variable path—no two skiers are the same—but this kind of work just has to be done
    I hope you are in this for the long haul—as it will be a few more years before you will realize the kind of success you want.
    All the best—Merry Christmas and have a great New Year!

  • Avatar
    hankmoody

    December 16, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Bravo Marty. I love your trademark honesty. All these programs are tight lipped. They act like some combination of Bill Bellichek and a beauty pageant contestant at a press conference. Either we should interpret their nonsense as supreme albeit misguided confidence or profound insecurity. Open debate and dialoguen from the USST down is a critical part of the learning process. As for Reese who the F knows. I hope it turns out well. But i do agree it takes patience. A body will not absorb too much increase particularly if the intensities for distance training are a little too high. Keep kicking ass Marty.

  • Avatar
    hankmoody

    December 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Just a side note — I am sure the Norwegian countryside is riddle with the skeletons of talented juniors who hammered away to much too soon. They have the luxury of numbers. Their place will almost certainly be taken by someone equally as talented but patient. The US Ski community can ill afford skeletons. This makes communication and openness even more critical. But in this era of smiling propaganda from top to bottom – honest and public assessments are hard to come by.

  • Avatar
    chuckrunkle

    December 16, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    moody- you also forgot to mention that Norwegians have the luxury of vast quantities of brown cheese, something the USST is lacking… and propaganda? I think the whole USST is actually quite “stoked” to be doing “super mediocre”. Does anyone know if Grover will be at the eastern cup this weekend???

  • Avatar
    markpelletier

    December 16, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    When you only send 4 men into the superbowl of nordic skiing what do you think happens, they get whopped. These euros know the venues, have raced them since they were kids, and there is a whole bunch of them racing in their back yard. Its hard to race their courses “onsite” as climbers call it with no prior knowledge. The only way US men will ever be able to compete across the big pond effectively is if they start racing there in masses, earlier, younger… and that my friend takes a whole lot of money which isnt being channeled into Nordic skiing, this is a country that likes motors, ski lifts, video games, and french fries. It has been sad to see Reese come in at the back of the pack with the Chinese. I imagine if he gets a chance to race these venues again he will know them better and do better.

  • Avatar
    Martin Hall

    December 16, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Mark–it isn’t quite that simple—what is critical is what he is doing on the front end–that’s at home—–preparation—the international type—-and it is known how to do it—i.e.–Randall, Stephen, Bjornson, Caldwell, Diggins, Sargent, Hamilton, Hoffman, Newell demonstrate it very well—the big difference is the approach–professional or amateur—-amateur does not cut it! These guys I named above—make the podium—so they are doing what is right in training—racing—-not with the depth other teams have—so their fragility when it happens is more visible then those other nations when they have breakdowns.
    It is a long term process and if they make it they will know all the ins and outs of all the venues, glaciers, towns, hotels, bakeries, great eateries,airport, roads etc.—what you mention is just part of the process.
    Like I say—if they do the work—all the rest falls into place

  • Avatar
    norwegian

    December 17, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Relax Reese, it’s still very early. Your body needs to adapt to the increased volume of training. I bet by February (and hopefully earlier) you will ski faster than ever before. Your body just needs a transition period..

  • Avatar
    hankmoody

    December 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

    yeah Norwegian, i noticed how bjorgen’s and johaug’s bodies are still adapting to their training load. oh wait – NO. If you are cooked – your heart rates are suppressed and you can’t accomplish good intensity training. The kind of adaptation of which you speak is nonsense. There’s always next year.

  • Avatar
    chuckrunkle

    December 18, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Mr. Moody, he is obviously a Norwegian, hence the name, so he obviously knows what he is talking about and there is no need for the sarcasm pal. I don’t seen any Norwegian heritage attached to your Midwestern name. enjoy your gjetost Mr. all-knowing-norwegian!

  • Avatar
    hankmoody

    December 18, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Chuckie we all know your reputation. Enough with the computer assisted arm training alright.

  • Avatar
    teamepokeedsbyn

    December 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    you guys funny….

  • Avatar
    hankmoody

    December 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Hey speaking of midwesterners… Mr. EpokeEdsbyn is in the house. What say you old sage? But bear in mind Tim Kelly is irrelevant to this conversation so no gratuitous compliments for him please.

  • Avatar
    caldxski

    December 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    It’s time for something constructive and this (perhaps long) message is especially aimed at serious junior racers.
    For the past few years I have compiled the ages of the top 30 finishers in the WC races. Anyone can do this. I have found that 2/3 of the top 30 racers are between the ages of 25 and 30. One-sixth of them are under 25 and the other one-sixth are over 30. This should tell everyone something. But, without mentioning any names, I can’t tell you the looks of disappointment I have received when I told good racers that they probably would have to wait until they were at least 25 in order to crack the big time. The sprinters are usually a bit younger on average, and the women are also a bit younger, on average.
    The next question is this: How many hours should one train? If we accept the notion that a total between 800 and 1000 is probably good for the top players AND that (as various Scandinavians have told me) an increase of hours to the tune of 10% yearly is optimal, it makes for a good drill to start figuring numbers.
    Let’s start at age 16 and assume 410 hours are in place. (How many of you 16 year-olds are training 410 hours a year?) If you start adding hours by 10% a year, you will get something approximating the following sequence as the years go by (I have rounded some totals to make it easier to calculate and to understand):
    450, 500, 550, 605, 665, 730, 805, 885, 973 at age 25. That would be very good. NOW! These numbers might be changed (lessened) by injury or sickness, or by attending a school where they expect you to go to classes, and so on. So that might delay attaining the above goal, thus pushing your age more toward 30.
    Let’s say at age 18 you are training 300 hours per year. Then you get the following sequence: 300, 330, 363, 400, 440, 484, 532, 585 at age 25. Stay home. Keep training for another three years until you are 28. Hard to do? You bet. It’s better to start more volume at an early age.

    John Caldwell

  • Avatar
    cuttsy

    December 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Hit the nail on the head for the most part John, the only thing I might debate is the necessity for 800 – 1000 hrs. I think this is a bit of an arbitrary number and needs to be taken on a person-by-person basis. What works for one may blow up another.. Here in Sweden the average volume recommended for a 16 year old is 430 hrs by the Swedish Ski Association NOT including strength, with most coaches counting that as 50 – 60 hrs extra. So following the 10% rule you won’t be at 800 hrs until age 23 and this assuming no sickness or injury.

    Lets face it, the biggest issue is there are some fundamental system changes in the US that have to happen before we are consistently pumping out competitive WC skiers. We need a more flexible classroom schedule in high school for skiers to allow for these training volumes and travel to and from workouts in some places. There need to be more standards for coaches even at the most basic levels or at least a bonus system for those coaches who attain the highest levels of certification. Most importantly we need a universal education program. The difference between programs like SMS and a random high school coach without much background is HUGE. Lets try to get every kid a somewhat consistent education in training and theory. The Swedish ski association has a standardized education system for all of its skiers / biathletes that touches on Psychology / physiology / doping / mental training, nutrition etc.. This makes a big difference in the students becoming more mature, independent athletes who understand what training they are doing and why. Once these pieces are in place I think you’ll see a higher percentage of athletes training at a higher level and then you’ll start to see them creep up the results list…

    Oof sorry for the novel, Just my 10 cents

    Cuttsy

  • Avatar
    caldxski

    December 18, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Kevin–I agree with you on all points. You pick up on that 430 hours (plus strength) and it sends another message to juniors. And I know you agree that here we are not even talking about technique. Yeah, we need a lot more education in the various aspects of xc racing. I don’t follow the USST info and so am not sure if they are doing much to promote what we are talking about. It should be their job.

    JC

  • Avatar
    teamepokeedsbyn

    December 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Conversely, one needs to be told when best to throw in the towel – some may believe that training 850-950 hours will get a particular result, when it will not.
    As this seems to be the Old Coach forum, at what point/age to you tell a skier “look, you are never going to be among the best, so get on with your life/career”? – i dont think it takes until late 20’s to be apparent one has exceptional potential.
    there have been many many many college level and national team level men from the US, including those who were members of World Cup teams, who trained the “required 900 hours”- same as those winning races, and never were consistent top 10 skiers in world cup (or even top 30 for that matter). (yes, one can reasonably assume a large % of the mens top 30 field was cheating from mid-1980’s to mid-2000’s, but i do not think that is the case now)
    Genetics (Caldwell genes?) do play a huge factor, and that is life. You can get an extra percent in speed, jumping from 700 hours to 900 hours (men) from age 21-25 or so, but you have to realistic about how much percent faster will result. I think one will find that those who are at some point consistent top 10 skiers for a season or more, did in fact, show up occasionally in the top 30 (and better) by age 25. (only referring to “standard” race distances, as “sprinting” kind of a side bar).
    Or, put differently, “we will be skiing really fast and winning by late winter for World Championships, just you wait you sons of bitches”.

  • Avatar
    erikfluoro

    December 19, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Hours, hours, hours….Sure there are some basic guidelines that can be used as reference markers of what the top skiers are doing. But simply doing the hours does not ensure success by the time you are 25 or 30, or ever! How about taking a look at performance and training to perform not just training for the hours. I would suspect that if Mr. Caldwell explored the data a bit deeper for these various age groups he would find that most if not all of these top skiers entered the world cup competition at a pretty high level of performance. Then along with training, performance continued to improve. You can’t be skiing 150 FIS point races and training 1000 hours and suddenly expect a major break through!

  • Avatar
    erikfluoro

    December 19, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Seems there was a recent FS debate on the systemic doping in Russia….In skiing, cycling, running and endurance sports in general performance enhancing drugs were/ are commonly used. These drugs, no doubt, had a tremendous impact on how much and how hard one could train and still adapt. So perhaps the magic 1000 hour a year pill, is not really 1000 hours. I suspect not. Maybe if your a like Hank or Chuck and count watching ski videos and quaffing a few as part of your yearly training you can hit 1000 hours.

  • Avatar
    kjetil

    December 19, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Yeah, I also think that 25 is a little too early for most people. The career of Martin Johnsrud Sundby is the norm, people like Petter Northug and Thomas Alsgaard are more the exception. It usually takes until your late 20-ties, not your mid 20-ties to establish yourself and have absorbed all that training. It is funny with the females, it seems to become more of the norm that the blossom earlier. But I wonder if something has happened in their heads in the latter years, compared to 7-8 years ago, that they allow themselves to be more fiercly competitive than ever before. Earlier, it was generally accepted that women were less competitive than men, sort of by nature, but with some, I don’t think this is the case anymore.

    Also, I can confirmed Norwegian woods are littered with the corpses of those who trained too hard. And the dark side of Norwegian skiing is that nobody cares. In some of the sports where young athletes regularly are overtrained, they are being helped back up, whereas in XC skiing, the talent pool is so large, they are just left by the wayside alone to never return. It has been so apparent, I certainly wouldn’t want that for my children. But perhaps it is changing, Marthe Kristoffersen appear to have been given more attention when she’s been down.

  • Avatar
    chuckrunkle

    December 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

    filibuster!

  • Avatar
    teamepokeedsbyn

    December 19, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I’m So Ronery
    I’m so ronery
    So ronery
    So ronery and sadry arone
    There’s no one
    Just me onry
    Sitting on my rittle throne
    I work very hard and make up great prans
    But nobody ristens, no one understands
    Seems that no one takes me serirousry

  • Avatar
    Martin Hall

    December 19, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Ah-ha—got what I wanted—a big discussion—and training hour numbers all over the place—great!!!! Here are a couple of additives I haven’t seen in any of your comments. Many of these skiers will have ID’d themselves and low and behold will be in a good club or school program with good coaches—and all of this is getting more and more sophisticated—-so they won’r be going this trip alone—they will have the coaches experience, sport intelligence and education to help them get on the right road–together in a program with support and many others doing the same thing—and it will be fun ride to top it all off.
    Those numbers are more real then not Eric—drugs or not—they are not an excuse—and on top of that it is a progression to those numbers—-you’ll know when you’ve hit YOUR top or the coach will let you know or your results or your wallet–you’ll get the message.
    The competitive pyramid does work, starting with Bill Koch and Jack Rabbit League programs all the way to to the 10-20 skiers on the National Teams—-where did all those little duggers go—they fell off along the way for any number of reasons—-but they are all stronger for having had the chance to take this tough ride
    In all my years—no one has ever said that this sport is an easy one.
    More later.
    Oh——good going—–no pot shotting—we can all learn from each other.

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