Ben Ogden, In His Element: Part I

John TeafordJuly 20, 2023

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In the Ogden family barn, southern Vermont, where relaxing space is adjacent to working space. Let the summer season begin. (Photo: FasterSkier)

Ben Ogden is in his element . . . in a secluded valley surrounded by tree-covered slopes of Vermont’s Green Mountains, in a barn by the side of a winding dirt road, only a few steps from some of the best training ground in the world, and within arm’s reach of a disembodied jumble of carefully labeled automotive parts. In this bucolic, mechanical, athletic setting, Ben Ogden is at home.

Much of any skier’s success is earned during the summer months: roller skiing, endurance running, technique drills, strength work, intervals, speeds. It’s a season of hard work, of devoted training, of measured efforts, of testing systems and strategies. For Stifel US Ski Team standout, Ben Ogden, it’s also the season of attention to detail, of planning strategies, of refining technique, of identifying subtle weaknesses, of fixing niggling problems, of making something better than before . . . and he’s working on his skiing, too.

There’s a 1973 Land Rover Series III in there somewhere. (Photo: FasterSkier)
Planning and Preparing

The Ogden family barn sits in a remote corner of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Workshop, storage facility, occasional movie theater, neighborhood gathering place: the barn has stood at the center of Ben Ogden’s life. It still holds much that is dear to him—memories and mementos, tools and tractors—and now the many pieces and parts of a 1973 Series III Land Rover. Ben Ogden is a young man who needs a project, a puzzle, a challenge: the vintage Land Rover is one of them. Right now, it can barely be described as a vehicle. Disembodied body panels line the walls of the barn. A weathered bulkhead stands ready for welding, patches, repairs. A fresh new chassis leans against an adjacent wall, while the skeleton of the vehicle, itself—identifiable only by a raw engine block and a skyward-pointing gearshift lever—occupies the middle of the work space. By Ben’s own admission, this could take a while . . .

“The old way of spending the summer had pretty much run its course for me,” he said. “I’m done with college; my years aren’t measured in semesters and summers anymore. Now skiing isn’t so seasonal; it’s an all-year thing. But, you know, I can’t make my whole life just about skiing.”

And so, work on these Ogden-projects begins. He fills plenty of daylight hours with ski training, but even the most aggressive training plan leaves plenty of other hours unfilled. Ogden manages to fill those hours, himself. “For me, it’s not enough just to do a couple of workouts, then spend the rest of the day in bed,” he said. “It actually might be better for my training if I did, but I’m just not built that way.”

Ogden remains in motion: on his feet, at the task, wrenches in hand, hands addressing the challenge. And he has plenty of challenges to face here in the family barn. Tools are neatly stacked in well-organized drawers, and Land Rover parts—both old and new—are cordoned off in little project areas. Remove each part from the old carcass, learn what it does and how it does it, inspect for continued mechanical viability, replace as necessary. Ben Ogden’s summer is full . . .

By Ben’s own admission, this could take a while. (Photo: FasterSkier)

Ogden is already known as a mechanical tinkerer, having achieved a modest amount of fame for his restored vintage Toyota ForeRunner, and his Barbecue wagon that often shows up at events when Ben, himself, is stateside. Last winter in Europe, he traveled with a dog-eared copy of the Haynes Manual (the go-to Land Rover service manual). “I was reading that and getting so fired up for the project,” he said, though admitting that his teammates may have failed to understand his enthusiasm for such esoteric reading material. Either way, he returned home ready to make his Land Rover into a pile of parts, then to be reassembled into a restored 4WD classic.

Ben has gone for advice to Lanny Clark, a noted Land Rover restorer and mechanic based in nearby Colchester, Vermont.  “Lanny’s advice for so many tasks and parts replacements on old Land Rovers was, ‘Prepare yourself for that to not fit,'” Ogden said. “The whole thing is a complicated process, but one you can handle if you remember what you’ve already done. (Lanny) reminded me to keep track of which bushings for the swivel balls are left and right . . . I was like, ‘Well, that would’ve been good to know before I disassembled them.'” He points to a selection of parts stacked off to one side. “These are all the ones that I didn’t label soon enough,” he admits. “So I’m not really sure where they came from.”

It’s like any Ben Ogden project: study the problem, untangle the knots, learn the procedures, progress steadily . . . and be ready to turn on the jets.

“I have a ton of respect for true mechanics,” Ogden said. “My wrenching abilities lead me to replace twenty things that aren’t the problem; then eventually I’ll figure things out. I love every second of it, but I could never work at a shop and be expected not only to correctly diagnose a problem on the first try, but also fixing it in a reasonable amount of time.”

In the case of the disassembled Land Rover—and considering the pace of life in this corner of Vermont—it seems that time is on Ben Ogden’s side.



In Part II of Ben Ogden in His Element, FasterSkier investigates the strategies and tactics—the ups and downs—of Ben Ogden’s 2022-2023 World Cup campaign.

Ben Ogden, making the field pay in Drammen, Norway. Stay tuned for Part II

Editor’s Note:

FasterSkier would like to acknowledge the contributions, the spirit, and the energy of John Ogden—father of Ben, Charlotte, Katharine, and husband to Andrea—who passed away at home, surrounded by family in southern Vermont. Ben recently posted a tribute, and an invitation to a gathering of friends and family scheduled for July 21st.

My entire life, along with that of so many has been influenced by the guiding words and actions of my wonderful father. It is with immense sadness and fear that we all must tackle the future without his influence. We can, however, be confident that his memory will continue to provide direction and positivity to all of the ups and downs that are to come. Anyone and everyone is welcome to the grove on July 21st for a “big ass party” in his memory. And if you can’t make that, wave at the next red Toyota you see and turn up the next Talking Heads song you hear in honor of the best role model I could have ever asked for. Love you all - Ben

John Teaford

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