HomeTag Johnny Klister

pp class="MsoNormal"Because he…goes for it, because of his constant balls to the wall attitude. – emAn email nominating Andy Newell for the Johnny5/emspan /span/p !--EndFragment-- p class="MsoNormal"Imagine if this year hadn’t been an Olympic year, if Apollo Ono’s greatest contribution to the cultural record had been merely another season on emDancing with the Stars /emspanand if Shaun White had stayed hidden in his secret half-pipe lair high in the Rockies. (I like to envision it as a James Bond villain’s home really.)span  /spanWere that the case, were we to have avoided being caught up in the pomp and exuberance of the “Old-limp-dicks” as a former Olympic participant described them, then perhaps, aspan/spans a skiing country, we wouldn’t be crying on our Olympic issued Polo Ralph Lauren hiking boots.  Rather we’d be celebrating the powerful improvement and success of the ski team, most notably and consistently, the efforts of Andy Newell.span  /span/span/p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanIt would be stupid to describe Andy Newell here and now.span  /spanIf you’re an English speaking skier who doesn’t fully know the depths of Andy’s abilities, you should relegate yourself to the fantasy island that Cloxxi lives on training solely on Catskis.span  /spanWhat you don’t know, and what may surprise you is that in addition to being a great athlete with interests in making movies, skateboarding and general dude-bro pasttimes, Andy Newell leads a silent revolution against the weight of succeeding in our sport.span  /spanHe balances his athletic obligation with more school visits than Jamie Oliver.span  /spanHe’s been known to call up non-profits during important days and ask if he can be involved.span  /spanHe’s remained powerfully loyal to his home program, the Stratton Mountain School, lending support and consistent presence to their program. Rightly so as Stratton started him on the road to World Cup success. In general, he’s a good guy./p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanSo how does this push skiing forward in 2010?span  /spanSimple, while the rest of the ski world is mooning via interwebs (including this site) over what to do next, Andy knocked down five, top-ten finishes in World Cup sprints, two of those in the Tour de Ski as the first American competitor to take on the significant event in the world cup calendar and one of those a podium in Drammen, which for those of you in the cheap seats is in NORWAY where they eat Americans and shit our dreams. Think that race wasn’t hotly contested??span  /spanThere are dudes still upset they were Americanned at that event./p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanFurthermore, were there no Andy Newell, there’d be no explosion of Simi Hamilton onto the scene as Sim’s confidence grew out of workouts against Andy (and, to be fair, Torin) in the summer leading up to this season.span  /spanSimply put, Newell is one guy pushing the envelope, the whole envelope as we grope towards a more focused future of skiing in the US and he does it with aplomb./p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanIn a place where we are constantly trying to qualify ourselves as a skiing community on the world stage, it’s useful to have Andy Newell leading the charge./p !--EndFragment--/p

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pp class="MsoNormal"“It’s about access.span  /spanGetting to experience the speed and then getting used to it.” – emBilly Demong on improving in international competition./em/p p class="MsoNormal"!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-- !--[endif]--/p p class="MsoNormal"One hears a lot about the gaps in US skiing.  There are gaps in how many athletes get taken into the sport as young people.span  /spanGaps across the country that are costly to move through en route to races.span  /spanGaps in training in the 16 y/o and over crowd.span  /spanGaps in the difficulty of our race courses compared to Europeans.span  /spanNo gap is greater, however, than the gap between the level of competition readily available to juniors and developing seniors in the United States and that available in Europe.span   /spanWhen Scottish-born skier, Andrew Musgrave took up residence in Norway, he explained it simply,span  /span“That’s where the racing is.”span  /span/p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanCertainly, there is strong racing in the US, given the improved fields at junior and senior nationals as well as the FIS-U events in the West and Eastern College Carnivals.  The US provides possibilities for starts but they still all pale in comparison with European counterparts.span  /spanSimply put, to push skiing forward, more skiers from more programs need to get Americans to European races.span  /span/p p class="MsoNormal"span           That can happen a bit easier /span(almost by accident) this year with the revival of the National Cross Country Ski Education Foundation.span  /spanThe non-profit started by Reid Lutter in the earlier part of this decade had been on its last legs when a large donation came in the form of an inheritance gifted to skiing.span  /spanRenewed with money, NCCSEF jumped back to life and began supporting athlete trips, its origin mission.span   /spanPerhaps most importantly, the organization supported a two-week OPA cup trip populated with up and comers in the skiing world and set out a path that would help US skiers find improvement.  It’s a trip that will happen again this year.  APU will bring skiers over for almost 9 weeks, a similar trip as the one described above is schedule for 7 weeks of OPA racing.)  This is big.  NCCSEF gives financial hope to be able to emfeel/em the difference in European racing.spanbr//span/p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanSylvan E. described the partially NCCSEF funded trip this way on TeamToday.org, “France has such an awesome history.span  /spanSkiing here feels different than anywhere else.span  /spanI don’t know why, it just does. This is a good different. Twenty-one coaches and athletes rocking it here in France for the next couple days.span  /spanCan’t wait to see what is to come.”/p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanWith the growth and renewal of NCCSEF, we should all feel similar anticipation.span  Too often kids have been sent home with a large bill from European trips, with the growth and renewal of NCCSEF, 2010 became a year closer to the time when we won’t have to tell (read: lie) to a kid, “if you love the sport, you’ll find a way to pay for it.”/span/p p class="MsoNormal"             That’s something you won’t hear in basketball./p p class="MsoNormal"spanbr//span/p p class="MsoNormal"span        Donate at: a href="http://www.nccsef.org"www.nccsef.org/a  /span/p !--EndFragment--/p

pp class="MsoNormal"“I’ve never seen anyone like him before.span  /spanHe pushes himself to the limit every day of his life.” –em Lindsey Vonn/em/p p class="MsoNormal"!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-- !--[endif]--/p p class="MsoNormal"Billy Demong won a gold medal in Nordic Combined.span  /spanThe first ever.span  /spanPeriod.span  /spanspan /span/p !--EndFragment--/p

pp class="MsoNormal"Fast Female uses female athletes as role models to promote a fun and healthy lifestyle, fueling both the base and pinnacle of skiing.em  – Eileen Carey, MWSC director/em/p p class="MsoNormal"!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-- !--[endif]--/p p class="MsoNormal"It doesn’t speak extremely well of women’s skiing advocacy in the US when the best thing pushing progress is a Canadian-based program, though it does demonstrate the power of Fast Female.span  /spanFast Female is the brainchild of Chandra Crawford, best known for her stunning gold medal performance in the 2006 Olympic sprint.span  /spanIn the US, the Fast Female program has been adopted most successfully by Kikkan Randall, who, unlike most women was well-supported both athletically and culturally through her developing years as a skiers.span  /spanTo understand what and why fast female is important, a quick inventory of women’s skiing in the US is in order:/p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanThere is no shortage of talented women in the sport in this country.span  /spanA quick look at the nominees for the Johnny5 reveal a large collection of skiers coaches pushing the status quo, from Montana State’s Grethe Hagensen to the work of Pepa Milocheva at the Craftsbury program.span  /spanFrom Holly Brooks and Kikkan Randall’s impressive 2010 respective performances on the national and international stages to Eileen Carey’s direction of four thousand events at the Maine Winter Sports Center in March of 2010.span  /spanSuccess, however, is overshadowed by a lack of depth and sustained power in women’s skiing.span  /spanComparing the top 100 men in cross country rankings, USSA points stop at 107 and are generally spread evenly across the range of points.span  /spanOn the women’s side, the 100supth/sup ranking woman in the USSA registers points of 142 with very few women scoring below 100pts./p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanCoaching ranks similarly: only in college, where the competitive landscape lends credibility to women’s skiing since men and women are scored together and evenly in pursuit of an event win, are there a decent number of program directors.span  /spanThose numbers do remain a minority percentage but relative to the junior and elite ranks, they are monumental.span   /spanCoaching across all ranks remains an apprentice position. Despite the recent and on going efforts made by the USSA to develop a coaching education program.span  /spanCoaches gain positions by working under other coaches and there are few women who move up in the ranks to direct programs.span  /spanThere has never been a full-time female coach on the US Ski Team./p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanNowhere is the gender divide more apparent and painful than in the travails of the women’s ski jumping team.span  /spanTheir well-chronicled hardships to gain Olympic status through the IOC, smacks of old-world misogyny.span  /spanAs recently as 2005, then-FIS president and member of the IOC, Gian Franco Kasper, said he didn’t think women should ski jump because the sport “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.”span  /span(Time Magazine, February 11, 2010) span /span/p p class="MsoNormal"          One has to wonder what the medical concerns might be.  Was Gian concerned there might be ovaries lining the outrun?!/p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanspan /spanThe numbers tell the story: with less access to the top of the sport as coaches, with fewer women succeeding on the world stage, and, in the case of jumping, literally no possibility at Olympic competition, there are fewer chances to empower women to be successful./p p class="MsoNormal"The crux of the problem facing men’s women’s skiing is metaphorically best summed up by the skiing parent of two young children, twins,span  /spana boy and a girl, who describes them both at age four.span  /span“Once we went to visit family at a near-by farm.span  /spanWe lost track of time and foundspan  /span(the girl) playing quietly near the garden.span  /spanIn the meantime, (the boy) had found a hammer and knocked out all of the windows in a near-by garage, laughing and breaking the glass.”span  /spanIn the skiing world, the trick is to clear away the broken glass.span  /spanTo get women into the sport, the environment needs to be as it is for men, more coaches of your gender available to you, more opportunities to ski just with your gender, more marketing, more products, more events focused on your gender./p p class="MsoNormal"Enter Fast Female./p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanThere have been three large Fast Female events on US Soil, the first two at the 2009 and 2010 US National Championships in Anchorage, the most recent at the distance national championships in Maine this spring.span   /spanOver one-hundred women joined and were mentored by elite female coaches and athletes.span  /spanThe girls went home at the end of the day happy, connected with many of the top athletes, and secured with a great introduction to Nordic skiing.span  /spanAs a youth introduction, it clears the way for women to try ski sport unencumbered by the status quo.span  /span/p p class="MsoNormal"span            /spanThere is a myopic focus on toughness, skiing emharder/emspan than the next racer and the long and serious road to skiing success in the US.span  /spanPhrases like “talent-identification” and “direct-coaching sessions” are this year’s new paths to our would be success.span   /spanBefore skiers can get to the toughest parts of racing they have to be people who ski.span  /spanFor women, Fast and Female is grooming a smoother trail for that to happen. /span/p !--EndFragment--/p

pp class="MsoNormal"In terms of actually moving things FORWARD - advancing the cause - Nat might be my ONLY pick. The Johnny 1.span  /span– emZach Caldwell/em/p p class="MsoNormal"em!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-- !--[endif]--/em/p p class="MsoNormal"em!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-- !--[endif]--/em/p p class="MsoNormal"Three years ago, the best one could do in procuring ski information was to be at an event and hope the important parts of the day happened in front of you.span  /spanWeb information was focused on Norwegian gossip, product placement or the type of generic, canned coverage that gets churned out by collegiate sports information directors, small-town newspapers and the unfilled spaces in the back of sports magazines.span  /spanAs recently as last year, there was very little American ski journalism, most of it practiced by Paul Robbins, and only in the wake of World Championship larger events.span  /spanBlogs and interviews were high journalism before Nat and fittingly where he got his start.span  /spanHe quickly moved passed the status quo.span  /spanIt was once written on this website that Nat is the most entertaining not fast skier ever to type, but since then he’s moved beyond that.span  /spanNow, Nat Herz is the only legitimate journalist covering skiing and as such makes his contribution stand out even more significantly than his employer, emFasterskier/emspan.span   /span/spanemFasterskier/emspan is part of the ski community, and makes a valuable contribution. But it doesn’t rise above the fray as an entity - in fact it pretty much reflects the fray in all its gory detail, and has come to characterize and embody everything that is wrong with the community, mostly by virtue of making no attempt to verify identities or demand accountability for the often outrageous comments for which it provides a soapbox.span  /spanAs recently as yesterday (May 25supth/sup, 2010), a commenter going only by the name /spanemGreater North/emspan, felt compelled to postulate that /spanemother nations are far ahead of us far earlier because they are not afraid to push their athletes earlier/emspan in response to one of Nat’s articles about USST skier, Liz Stephen. (Yet another nugget of ham fisted idiocy to help skiing along.)span  /spanShort sighted comments seem most myopic when they follow well research, well-informed writing on American skiing.span  /spanIn doing this work, Nat single-handedly legitimizes the sport and the people working in it by virtue of the even handed journalistic treatment that he provides. He approaches his work professionally - a standard of expectation that we should all hold ourselves to and a standard that if left to percolate could combat the collective inferiority complex that permeates skiing.span  /spanNat writes about skiing and doesn’t apologize for it. He pushes forward with even expectation and focus that is rare throughout the rest of skiing.span  /spanWhen fellow Johnny5 nominee Simi Hamilton was interviewed by Nat following his qualification at the U23 championships, the Coloradoan was more professional and formal than previously seen on the bandwith of Fasterskier.span  /spanFor that interview, in addition to the skiing expectations on Sim as an athlete, the expectation on him as an ambassador was pushed up.span  /spanThis is the most important work Nat is doing.span  /spanThe largest impediment to great cross country results in the US isn’t a lack of training and focus.span  /spanIt isn’t a lack of passion or drive. (More on this as we work through other nominees.)span  /spanRather, it is the nearly insurmountable cultural block that keeps skiers from /spanembelieving /emspanthat winning races is possible.span  /spanIt is the New York Yankee-like dominance of the European nations.span  /spanTo beat this, the skiing country will have to rise above smarm and criticism (founding principles here at JohnnyKlister.com) and become more pro.span  /spanFortunately we have a great model in Nat Herz and his willingness to shed light into the darkest parts of our sport. /span/p !--EndFragment--/p