Nordic Nation: Inside the Athlete-Guide Dynamic with Jake Adicoff and Sam Wood

Rachel PerkinsJanuary 22, 2022

In this episode, we have Jake Adicoff and Sam Wood, calling in from Lillehammer as the duo races as athlete and guide at the Para World Championships. Jake is a visually impaired athlete from Sun Valley who grew up racing with the SVSEF cross country program and now trains with the Gold Team. He has raced at both the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, and the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, where he won a silver medal in the 10k classic, as well as placed 4th in the classic sprint and 5th in the 20k free. 

Jake Adicoff and his guide Sam Wood put together a gold medal performance on the opening day of racing at the Para World Championships in Lillehammer, NOR. (Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Sam is also a member of the SVSEF Gold Team, balancing his own training and race goals with his support of Jake this season. Sam finished in the top-10 twice in the opening SuperTour weekends this season, and was in the Top-25 in both distance races at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Soldier Hollow. (Jake also raced, independently, at U.S. Nationals 

While it has included career best results, this year of racing was not originally in Jake’s plans. He retired from professional skiing in 2018, heading to San Francisco to work as an engineer for Uber, having graduated from Bowdoin College that spring with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. When the pandemic hit, he began to work remotely from his parents’ house in Sun Valley (thinking it would be just for two weeks – remember that?) and ended up “casually” hopping into training with his friends on the Gold Team. With a few nudges from US Para Nordic and teammates like Sam, Jake began to realize he was still passionate about ski racing and quite fit again, and he began to set goals for the upcoming 2022 Paralympics. 

Jake Adicoff follows Sam Wood on a long training run near Sun Valley, ID with the SVSEF Gold Team. (Photo: Instagram @svsefxcgoldteam)

At the time of the call on Friday January 21st, Jake had already earned a World Championship gold medal in the 10k classic on Sunday the 16th, and a bronze medal in the 15k skate on Tuesday the 18th. The morning after the call, the pair raced to second place in the 1.5k classic sprint. Three races, three medals. This week made it clear that Jake is in top form and will be a medal contender in Beijing. 

In this conversation, we get into the dynamic of the athlete-guide partnership, as well as how being long-time friends and teammates has contributed to their success racing as a pair this season. 

Friends, teammates, and now athlete-guide pair, Sam Wood (left) and Jake Adicoff (right) keep it fun on a sprint ski near Sun Valley, ID. (Photo: Instagram @svsefxcgoldteam)

To follow along with Jake’s racing this season, you can find race recaps with athlete quotes on the US Paralympics Nordic Skiing tab on the Team USA website, or follow the team on Facebook and Instagram.

A quick heads up on the audio, you’ll notice a bit of crackling and some poor connection toward the end of the podcast. Thanks for listening.

Rachel Perkins

Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646

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