Chris Grover has been at it a long time. Since 1993, when he first began coaching cross-country skiing under the tutelage of Sverre Caldwell at the Stratton Mountain School, Grover has migrated from Vermont, to Bend, Ore., and back to his home state of Idaho — all with the goal of fostering the fastest cross-country skiers. Grover caught the attention of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) and was brought into the national-team fold as an assistant coach in 1999.
In 2010, he was named head coach of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team. Since then, the team has experienced unparalleled success. Skiers like Simi Hamilton, Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen, Kikkan Randall, and Sophie Caldwell have excelled. But that success also comes at a time when the team’s budget is thin compared to powerhouse nations like Norway.
Despite the wavering budget, the team has made a go of it under Grover’s leadership. Asked about decreasing the stress on B-Team and D-Team athletes that are not fully funded, Grover said the team has created infrastructure to make life easier on the World Cup.
“We have been able to increase the infrastructure that we build around all athletes on the team, whatever their designation is,” Grover said. “If we go back four or five years ago, we might have only had two to three weeks, maybe four weeks of PT [physiotherapy] coverage on the World Cup during the competition season. And now we are at a point where we have PT coverage continuously on the World Cup season. And that’s because we have been able to use funding to support all athletes all year, to build out the infrastructure.”
The team is heading into an important two-year cycle with World Championships this coming season followed by the 2018 Olympics. The team is built around a core of skiers that at this point can be called veterans. With that in mind, FasterSkier asked Grover how he attempts to keep skiers from becoming “stale”?
“Oh gosh. It’s a really good question. It’s one that we are actually we are wrestling with right now, and dealing with right now,” Grover noted.
Forward thinking and shepherding the skiers to success is foremost on Grover’s mind. Along with his fellow coaches Matt Whitcomb, Jason Cork and Bryan Fish, Grover intends to implement a plan in the next two years he hopes will bring unprecedented success.
FasterSkier spoke with Grover in Bend on May 19 during the team’s on-snow camp at Mt. Bachelor.
(To listen to complete interview, click “play” arrow below.)
Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.