Note: In the first version of my year-end
analysis, I was pretty negative about a few specific things. Most
of the responses I got were because of those comments. This disappointed
me because, overall, I was thrilled with my season and that was the
message I wanted to convey. I have edited my comments a little bit
to make it more positive.
The Year In Review
It seems a bit weird to be writing
down my end-of-the-year thoughts right now. For one thing, It has
snowed every day so far this week. I went tele skiing at Deer Valley
yesterday and was up to my knees in fresh powder in some spots!
So far, April has been more like winter than February was. For another
thing, it seems like just last week that I was in Fairbanks for
a pre-season camp. But the calendar says "April 10, 1999" and I
can't find any more races on the schedule (I didn't look that hard),
so it must be time to look back and evaluate.
By all accounts, I had a very good
year. A year ago I decided that if I was going to continue skiing
past this year I needed to start seeing some improvement. I trained
more in the spring and summer than I ever have and included much
more intensity that I usually do. There were many people shaking
their heads when I told them about my Intensity Plan. But I have
to say that it worked very well. I realized the improvement I was
hoping for this year. Last spring, I set the following goals for
My main focus for the year was Nationals
in Rumford, Maine in January. My best result at Nationals previous
to this year was a 10th place in the 10K Classic race. This year,
rather than squeak into the top ten once, I wanted to be there consistently,
challenging for a spot on the World Championship team. I did exactly
what I had hoped for. My finishes were 4th, 6th, 6th, 10th, and a
forgettable 24th. In the 10K Classic I was less than 15 seconds from
a medal, and going into the last race I had an outside chance of making
the Worlds team. I ended up finishing 8th overall for the week. This
was clearly a huge step up for me. These races confirmed that I am
one of the best skiers in the country and that I am still gettine
better. But I also knew that I accomplished these results almost solely
on the strength of my classic skiing and that if I wanted to reach
the top my skating would have to improve. When I returned to Utah
after Nationals, Torbjorn and I worked intensively on my skating for
a couple weeks and it paid off in the second half of the season. Which
leads me to my second goal. . .
- Finish in the top ten in at
least 3 races at U.S. Nationals and be a legitimate contender
for the World Championship team. - Accomplished
- Win my age group in the American
Ski Marathon series and ski with the lead pack in these races.
- End the year ranked in the top
10 in the country, with points under 65. -
Just about accomplished
- Win more money than the amount
I spend on entry fees. - Accomplished
- Grab the attention of the U.S.
Ski Team. - NOT Accomplished
The second half of the season was
almost exclusively skate marathons, which until this year had been
my biggest weakness. But this year I broke through on the marathon
circuit. I won my age group in EVERY marathon I entered and skied
with the lead pack the whole way in each race. My success in these
races was due to a couple of factors: my improving skate technique
and implementing of a new strategy - "Hang on to the lead pack as
if your life depends on it." I am very good at "skiing my own race"
and pacing myself. But this is not a good way to ski a marathon.
In the past, as soon as the lead pack would start to get away from
me, I would let them go because I was afraid of going too hard too
early in a long race. But what I didn't realize at that time was
that it is much easier to ski in a pack. Once they got away, they
were skiing easier, but still faster than I was. If you just hammer
to hang on for a kilometer or two, you will have time to rest later
on when the pace eases, while still pulling away from the skiers
behind you. A year ago, I would have thought it impossible for me
to reach the podium in a marathon race, but this year I won the
Great Ski Race, was second in the Gold Rush, 4th in the West Yellowstone
Rendezvous, and 10th in the Birkie. It honestly blew my mind to
finish in the top ten at the Birkie. That gave me the confidence
to know that I can compete in long skate races. The Birkie put
me on a roll that continued for a month and a half.
I haven't seen the end-of-the-year
points list yet, but in early March my points were exactly at 65
and I was ranked 11th in the country. While I did not get back into
the top ten as I had hoped, I did get my points down to where I
wanted them. I think I skied well enough to be in the top ten. It
was bad weather, more than anything else, which kept me out. Perhaps
my best race of the year came in Fairbanks, AK in November. According
to my crude calculations, this would have been about a 50 point
race for me. But since the snow was marginal, it did not count for
official points. Then bad weather caused the cancellation of the
next three FIS Continental Cup races completely. I was skiing really
well early in the season and if I had points from these four races,
I know I would be much higher in the standings.
Since I did not reclaim my spot
in the top ten, I will have a harder time getting the attention
of the U.S. Ski Team when they name the team for next year. There
are certain skiers that are clearly at the top of the pecking order
right now. Marcus Nash and Justin Wadsworth had successful races
on the World Cup, and juniors Rob Whitney and Kris Freeman continue
to show promise for the future. But then there is a group of relatively
young senior skiers, including myself, who should be next in line.
Besides me, Justin Freeman, Andrew Johnson, Phil Bowen, and Scott
Loomis are making strides towards being the best this country has
to offer for 2002 in Salt Lake City. Earlier this year, I thought
my results might be good enough to earn a U.S. Development Team
spot. Now that the season is over we will just have to wait and
see what the Team decides to do. Either way, my long-term goal is
the 2002 Olympics and I will continue to do whatever is necessary
to get there.
All in all, I was very happy with
my season. I accomplished all the goals that I had control over.
I made the step up that I have been looking for in the past few
years. I still have more progress to make, but I am right on track
for 2002. Though I continue to be frustrated with the lack of support
for developing skiers in this country, I am fortunate to have others
who believe in me and support what I am doing. The support I have
received this year has been overwhelming. I am still living the
poor ski racer lifestyle, but for the first time in recent memory,
I will probably not have to enter next season still trying to pay
off this season's expenses. In light of this, it is time to thank
A world of thanks
*First of all, my Mom and Dad, who are
still waiting for their investment in a Dartmouth education to start
paying dividends, but continue to encourage me to follow my dreams
anyway. My Dad always gives me good advice, but the best piece of
ski advice I got this year was from my Mom. Usually her advice is
more along the lines of "Don't forget your mittens." (Good advice
in its own right.) But a few weeks ago she told me that I was too
itimidated by my competition and that I shouldn't be afraid to beat
them. She was right, and I won my next race.
*My brother, for keeping me in line
whenever I get too wrapped up in my little ski world.
*Grampy, for making this whole website
possible and for always being so proud of everything I accomplished.
I hadn't told anyone this before now, but this season was for you
*Torbjorn Karlsen and Nordic Equipment,
for the Solda wax, ProSki rollerskis, expert coaching, and guidance
towards my goals.
*Peter Camann, for his relentless promotion
of me, and ski racing in general, in the North Country.
*John Hanson, for organizing my most
successful fundraising campaign ever.
* A Glaring Omission in my first draft
- Lori Gates, TUNA Secretary, for processing all my donations and
keeping track of them.
*Everyone at Rockywold - Deephaven Camps,
my second home, who donated to that campaign.
*Everyone else who donated to my skiing
fund. I would love to list everyone who has helped, but I'm not
sure if you would all feel comfortable with that. So I will just
give one huge group thanks.
*Rick Halling at Atomic, Tom Rogers
at Exel, and John Yarrington at Salomon, for providing me with the
best equipment available.
*Kevin Fillion and the Littleton Courier
for making sure that Littleton doesn't forget about me just yet.
*Ruff Patterson, Fred Griffin, and Dave
McGraw for helping me get to this point and continuing to be there
*Jeffrey Mann for allowing me into his
home for two weeks in Fairbanks.
*John Downing at Cross Country Ski World
and Bob Haydock at Nordic Skiing in New England for promoting my
*And, of course, everyone who faithfully
reads my website and newspaper articles. A year ago, this website
thing was just a crazy idea in the back of my head. I never imagined
that it would get this big so soon. I'm still a far cry from Truman
Show or EdTV notoriety, but I have my fleeting moments of fame.
Just knowing that hundreds of people actually care about what I
am doing gives me extra motivation to keep it up and work even harder.
Thanks again to everyone. For the
coming year, I plan to continue updating the website year-round
with dryland training adventures and goals for next year. I hope
that you will tune in and also send me your thoughts and suggestions
for improvement(email me). Its been
an incredible year and I'm happy I was able to share it with you.