One thing we can say about most dads: they tell it like it is and they tell it to you straight. Just like we did for our moms on
Mother’s Day, we wanted to honor all of the fathers out there on Father’s Day, and we asked top North American national-team members to share a photo and answer one of the following questions:
Ian, and dad, Mike Torchia at an inline skate race on Madeline Island, Wisconsin, in 2016. Torchia wrote on his dad’s advice at the time: “‘You know what happens to hot dogs, Ian? They get eaten!’ – Mike Torchia
While my dad (affectionately called Sir) has given countless gems of advice, the above is one that I remember the most as he has always emphasized humility in the face of success.” (Courtesy Photo)
“My dad taught me the most basic and important lessons for a kid athlete and that was how to race and pace. He helped organize the first road races in Bennington and would run the 5k with me before heading out on the 10k race for himself. He taught me how to relax on the downhills and try to kick it in to the finish as hard as I could… I distinctly remember learning those two important things from running with my dad.”
“My mom teaches me lessons through words (she is going to school to be a counselor), whereas my dad has always taught me lessons through actions. I’ve observed these actions throughout the years with the intent to grow into somebody similar. His positivity, sense of humor, and ability to make people feel at home are things I hope have worn off on me. The biggest thing my dad has taught me is how to follow my gut feeling through the decision making process. He never tries to control or alter the decisions I’m going to make. Instead, he has allowed me to reap the rewards or consequences from these decisions on my own. And from there, I learn. Happy Fathers Day Hans. Love you!”
“When I want advice, the first person I call is my dad because he is very honest and always puts things into perspective. There is one piece of advice in particular that really stuck with me. I must have been really nervous about an upcoming race and was talking about the criteria I needed to make in order to qualify for a certain event. He reminded me that there was no point in getting worked up about criteria because it is something that I can’t control. He simply told me: ‘When you ski fast, good things happen.’ It made me realize how simple it was. I had worked hard to get to where I was, all I could do was go as hard as I possibly could, the rest is out of my control. I often think about that when I am nervous before important events. I am so glad that I can always rely on my dad to give me down to earth advice. Thank you dad and happy father’s day (and birthday)!”
“The best advice my dad has ever given me is reminding me that I tend to ski the fastest when I’m happy and enjoying myself. One of the times he reminded me of this was when I was at the Olympics and it forced me to step back and soak in the incredible experience I was having. When he said it, he was obviously applying it to skiing, but I think it’s a pretty simple piece of advice that you can apply to most parts of life. It’s easier to succeed in something that you’re passionate and happy about whether that’s a sport, friendship, or class. I think it’s easy for my dad to give advice like that because he’s one of the most kind and happy people I know and he likes to keep things pretty simple. I’ve always admired him for those reasons and would be happy to take advice from him any day :)”
“While I never actually went cross country skiing with my Dad, he was incredibly influential in his love for the outdoors and ability to truly enjoy life. My dad taught me to alpine ski and mountain bike, both were activities in which he challenged me and was always up for a race. I don’t know if my mom will ever get over just how much I ski like him. My dad had a great ability to do things in a big way in order to maximize the enjoyment out of each adventure and he did so with incredible passion. I can’t say I have fully learned this yet, but his spirit and enjoyment of life certainly are in me and I think often about how to embrace this a little more each day. At the very least, I have learned to be very passionate about the things I love. My favorite place in the world is the Southern Utah desert and I think my love for the desert stems entirely from family fun, particularly with my Dad.”
“The biggest lesson I learned from my Dad was to never do anything halfway. Whatever you decide to do, give it your best effort and be present. Whenever I see my Dad engaged in a project, whether that’s yard work, making dinner, going for a ski or going to work for the day, he’s fully committed to what he’s doing. He never does anything part-way, and that’s the way I want to live my life, too!
My Dad is also the gutsiest and toughest racer I know. I cheered him on in marathons when I was little and I’d like to think that when I have my best races where I hang in there with the pack, I’m racing like him.”
Little Jessie Diggins running alongside and cheering for her dad at a road race
“When I was younger I used to always want to quit different sports or activities that I was involved with. One of those sports was biathlon. I definitely didn’t give biathlon a good chance yet, but what I knew was that it was hard and I was bad at it. ‘I want to quit…I’m always coming in last!’ probably came out of my mouth about a dozen times when I began biathlon, but my dad saw something in me that I didn’t see yet. He knew I needed to give it another shot and stick with it, and I’m thankful he didn’t let me give up on it when I was a stubborn teenager. As a result, I slowly saw some improvement and was enjoying it more…quickly forgetting that I wanted to quit only months before. It’s funny to look back on, especially now that biathlon is such a huge part of my life. My dad has continued to support me to this day, and is always the first person that I talk to (along with my mom) after my races, if I’m having a hard time, or just to catch up. I’m excited to see where biathlon takes me, knowing that he’ll be by my side during the entire journey. Love you dad, hope you have a great Father’s Day!”
US Biathlon’s Maddie Phaneuf (c) with her parents after her fourth-place finish at 2014 Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle, Maine.
“In his soccer coaching days, something that my dad always said that stuck with me is ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect’, and that taught me to always practice with intent. But the biggest lesson my dad taught me without having to say a word was to find the fun in everything I do. Thanks dad!”
“The biggest lesson I learned from my dad is to enjoy life’s beauty.”
“Being the king of practical jokes, quick wit, and somewhat embellished stories, my father taught me to never take life too seriously. He manages to find humour in any situation, no matter what the mood is. He has always been at the sidelines of races and practices with off-beat cheers and goofy hats. Even now with majority of races overseas, he religiously watches every race live and follows it up with an email commenting on an obscure element of the race such as my earrings. From day one he has been there, encouraging my dreams and making me laugh. Thanks for being so awesome, Dad!”
“My dad has played a major role in my life in so many ways. He is the one who introduced me to the outdoor and sporting world when I was young. From building small ski ramps in the backyard to taking me backcountry skiing. I have so many amazing memories of my dad and what he has taught me it is hard to nail one thing down as the best advice or lesson that he has shared with me. All of the things I have learned seem to relate to a couple key things. Find something you enjoy doing, decide what your level of commitment is going to be and then do it right. I am very grateful that my dad was never one to pressure me in the sporting world but rather support me and help me figure it out. There are so many different avenues one can choose especially in a town like Steamboat where you can participate in almost any sport. With my dad’s help I was able to find the sport I love and figure out how much I really was willing to put into my career. That stage is still panning out but without my dad’s support in everything I tried I would not have learned to love the sporting world. So thank you dad! Love ya!”
“The wisest and most sincere thing that my dad taught me was to be myself. Whether it was going out for a 5-hour mountain bike ride because you felt like it, doing skate intervals until you threw up because you wanted to beat your competition at the next JNQ, or just acting totally goofy while on a desert camping trip, being yourself and knowing what you truly wanted to do and be in the moment of now was the most valuable thing that my dad, or anyone for that matter, has ever taught me. Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there! None of us would be where we are now without you, literally and figuratively.”
“The biggest lessons I’ve learned from my dad are to be tough and love what I’m doing. He taught me to hang tough, finding the strength to believe in myself and not give up when the going gets hard. He also always reminded me to have fun and if I wasn’t enjoying or passionate about what I was doing then it was time to do something else. This advice has given me the strength and work ethic to follow my dreams and have a blast doing it.”
“My dad has always had a love for sports, especially skiing. Growing up both my parents encouraged me to do many activities. They were always driving me from practise to practise but skiing was something that my dad and I did together. Over the years skiing became one of my favourite sports. Growing up some of the best advice my dad ever gave me was to make sure the things you are passionate about play and important role in your life, and that real jobs are overrated. He always encouraged me to pursue my goals and supported my racing and training with pride. After high school when I was trying to decide what my future would hold, my dad’s advice and philosophy on life, If I can do what I love as my ‘job’ why wouldn’t I. My dad has been there every step of the way, through my best times and the hard ones. I am so happy to have to chance to be home in Whitehorse this Father’s Day to spend it with my dad. No skiing together at this time of year but we have already been out trail running together in the one day I’ve been home. Happy Father’s Day dad and thank you for sharing your love for skiing with me, I love you! And a very Happy Father’s day to all the dads out there!”
“My Dad has literally supported me in biathlon since day 1 whether it was helping run kid’s practices on the weekends, cheering me on at the Olympics or proofreading website updates! I can’t name a single best advice, but I think the most powerful thing my Dad has given me is honesty. It sounds cliché I know! But really, no matter how well a race or training session went (or anything in life for that matter) my Dad was always positive but honest: he is the person I trust to give me advice or feedback that isn’t sugar coated. My Dad has this way of analyzing things that always leave me feeling more motivated and determined. The skill of being honest with myself, keeping my sport in perspective and not beating myself up when things don’t go as I want has come in a huge part from my Dad – and I doubt I would still be a biathlete without it!
As for my Grandpa, as soon as I think of him and sport I can hear him smiling snd saying ‘Go get’em Kid’….he must of said this to me thousands of times at uncountable races!
I am a lucky girl!”
“The biggest lesson my dad has taught me is the importance of confidence in racing. Whether it was by coming with me to the start pen to help me get my ‘game face’ on or by giving me pre-race pep talks, he showed me that a huge part of being a successful athlete is having confidence in your own abilities.”
” ‘Don’t forget to have fun, Susan.’ Those are often my father’s parting words to me as I leave for competitions. As a former USST member and a 2 time xc skiing Olympian, my father always understood that a passion for the sport must be the foundation to build on, no matter what level is ultimately reached.
When I was a kid, my dad always wanted to make sure I was enjoying skiing and doing it for the right reasons. I’ve always been competitive, sometimes to my own detriment. Dad held me back from intense training environments during my junior high years so that I wouldn’t burn myself out. In high school, he encouraged me to invent games for my teammates and to turn interval workouts into fun relays. I am thankful he led me in that direction, otherwise I would not be competing today.
As I got older and reached a more elite level, he has given me all sorts of wonderful advice. Immediately upon graduating from college, I was uncertain whether I should accept an invitation to move to Lake Placid to try a complete unknown, biathlon. My dad pointed out: ‘If you don’t try this, you are always going to wonder, ‘What if?’ ‘ He knows me well.
Some of his other advice that I have taken to heart:
1. ‘If you are going to be a full-time ski racer, you have to want to be the best in the world. I don’t know if you have that hunger in you — it is something you are going to have to figure out for yourself.’
2. ‘The Euros put their pants on in the morning the same way you and I do — one leg at a time.’
3. ‘I know you want to make an Olympic team, but the real question is, what is your goal once you get there?’
“My Dad always told me ‘do as your dad says, not as he does’… wise words from the Wizard of the North himself.”
“I wouldn’t be writing into Fasterskier if my Dad hadn’t taught me how to ski at a young age. Unfortunately, I can’t remember as far back as my first days on skis, but I do have many memories of him teaching other friends and family various forms of skiing. In this, he taught me that there’s tremendous satisfaction in sharing your passions. In fact, although my dad has never strapped on a pair of jumping skis, he has helped many younger kids progress at the local ski club, and he’s been the Central Division Nordic Combined Representative for years. He’s demonstrates a selflessness that is inspiring for me to try to live up to.”
“My dad has taught me that nature offers so many great adventures and that you always have to remember to have fun and really enjoy what you are doing :)”
“My dad always tells me to think before I speak. I have not fully figured that one out yet, but it is really good advice! Happy Father’s Day pops!”
Bryan Fletcher: “The biggest lesson I ever learned from my dad was not only how to ski but how to enjoy every single day on skis. He definitely showed me how to work hard so you can play harder. Both of the attributes have led me to the competitor I am today! Happy Fathers Day Dad!”
Taylor Fletcher: “My Father (Tim Fletcher) was huge in myself and my brother’s development as skiers. Growing up, my dad was ski patrol on Mt Werner and Howelson Hill. He was the person that taught us to ski beginning at a very young age, but I can’t remember if I started skiing early or walking late. We would go up there any chance we got to ski with him and chase him around the trees and down the slopes. Every weekend that he was working he would try to be at Howelson hill so he could patrol while we had jumping competitions. I can’t even think how many jumps my father has seen me take over the years, from watching at the base of the jumps to finding those hacked streams online to watch us compete in the middle of the night. Over the years, one thing has always stayed the same, and that is his love us and watching us compete. The biggest thing I have learned from my dad, he perseverance and hard work. I have never met a person that works as hard as he does during the summer and winter every year. I have been able to apply that to my training career as he always told me that no one is going to do my training for me!
Happy Fathers Day DAD!”