of a Dream
have been a skier for as long as I can remember. My parents put
me on skis when I was a year and a half old. For as long as I have
been a skier, I have had dreams of being in the Olympics. What follows
here is a timeline of how the lofty dream of a child has become
the backbone of a 27 year old's life. Some of what I say here will
sound cocky. Other parts will sound self-depricating. It's all part
of how I evaluated how realistic my dream really was.
- I am born in Laconia, New Hampshire.
- My parents put me on skis for the first time (I think). To say
that I actually skied would be a stretch.
- I enter junior high school in Littleton, NH, meaning that I am
eligible to race on the high school ski team. My dad takes me out
skiing on the trails he groomed behind our house to explain the
new concept of skating. Over the course of the winter, I am the
fourth fastest skier on our high school team, behind three seniors.
- I enter my first and only Bill Koch league races at Craftsbury,
Vt. This is the earliest recollection I have of thinking about the
Olympics. In those two races I finished somewhere around 10th out
of about 15 skiers. I remember that Dan Cantrell won those races
handily and I thought, Wow, you have to be as fast as Dan to have
a shot at the Olympics.
- As an eighth grader, I am the Captain, MVP and fastest skier on
my high school team. Our team is not very good, but our coach, Fred
Griffin has done an amazing job recuiting new athletes and the team
is building (at the same time, Fred is learning to skate on his
- I win my first NH Division 4 high school ski title. In the overall
state meet, I finish 18th in the skate race, then finish dead last
in an afternoon classic race of the top 20 from the skate race.
I remember thinking that in order to make the Olympics you need
to be able to classic ski.
- I finish 6th in the New Hampshire Cross Country running state
meet as a sophomore, behind five seniors. I begin to wonder if my
future is in skiing or running. (As I know now, I'll never run this
- I enter the Waterville Valley BBTS Racing Program, coached by
Dave McGraw. My first taste of "real" racing. A few short weeks
after learning about the existence of Junior Nationals, I win my
first Junior National qualifier. Dan Cantrell is second. I finish
second in the other skate qualifier, but end up 10th and 12th in
the classic qualifers. I manage to sneak onto the JN squad on the
strength of my skating. My high school team also wins its first
state title, edging out the team my dad coaches on the strength
of my come-from-behind victory in the team relay.
Nationals 1990 -Steamboat, Colorado
- Before leaving for Steamboat my dad gives me some advice - when
classic skiing, just run up the hills, don't worry about trying
to ski. At Junior Nationals, I finish 8th in the two skate races,
and then run my way to a 3rd(!) place finish in the classic race.
From this point forward, I am a better classic skier than skater.
Dan Cantrell wins at least two of the races. If you want to make
the Olympics, you have to ski like Dan.
- I win the New Hampshire State High School title. At Junior Nationals
in Anchorage I finish disappointly in the teens as a first year
J1. Dan Cantrell is in the top 5.
- I crash my mountain bike and have a compound fracture of my right
forearm. I wonder if I will be able to ski as well with two metal
plates in my arm.
- My best season ever in terms of progress. I dominate (ok so I'm
gettting a little cocky) the New Hampsire high school circuit and
win a couple JN qualifierso. At Junior Nationals, I win the 10K
skate race and come in 2nd in the other two races. Craig Van Valkenberg,
as a J2, races in the J1 category and has 3 top ten finishes. I
think that I skied better than I ever dreamed of, but that if I'd
have to be as good as Craig to make the Olympics. I also win the
Eastern High School Championship race that year.
- As a freshman at Dartmouth,I struggle with increased training
hours and the rigors of college classes. I race in a couple carnivals,
finishing around 20th, then finish 3&4 at Junior Nationals as an
OJ. But I love the college skiing experience. An excellent coach,
Ruff Patterson, and an excellent team make it a memorable first
- I make First team All-East in College Racing, along with three
scandinavians and Scott Loomis. At NCAA's, I have a terrific classic
race, finishing 10th and making second team All American. Dan Cantrell
fades away and quits ski racing.
- I win my first and only Carnival race at Williams and finish a
disappointing 10th and 11th at NCAA's. A broken pole keeps me from
being higher up.
- As a senior, I have a decent season, but have a disappointing
NCAAs (16th and 23rd). After some debate, I decide to continue my
racing career after college. I decide that if I quit now, I will
always wonder how good I could have been.
- I move to Park City, Utah to train under the guidance of Torbjorn
Karlsen, who in addition to beig a well-known coach of many top
athletes, is also a good friend of Ruff's. After my first season
in Utah, I am shoot up from number 58 on the national ranking list
to number 10. All of a sudden a few people start to notice me. On
one hand, I know that the sudden rise is due to the fact that I
am now skiing in many more FIS races, but on the other hand I am
surprised at how easy it was to break into the top ten. Craig Van
Valkenberg quits skiing.
- I finish 13th in the pursuit at the Gold Cup (Olympic Qualifer).
Right where I want to be, I know that in four more years, I can
be in the top ten, challenging for a spot on the team.
- My best season yet. I finish 4th, 6th, 6th and 10th at the races
at Nationals. Only 5 men were taken to the World Championships in
Ramsau, but had it been eight (like it will probably be at the 2002
Olympics, I would have been right in the hunt. I then go on to finish
10th in the Birkie, win the Great Ski Race and finish second in
the Calfornia Gold Rush. I am right on track for 2002.
- I start the season on fire, finishing 4th and 5th in the early
season Continental Cups in Silver Star. Due to illness, I don't
ski well at Nationals and then never really get on track for the
rest of the winter. Its a step back from the year before, but still
not bad. Everyone has an off year now and then.
- The wheels come off. I have a horrible season. The only bright
spot is that I manage to barely get into my first World Cup races
at Soldier Hollow.
- After two consecutive season of worsening results, I re-evaluate
my commitment to skiing. I decide that since it is only 9 months
until the Olympics, I owe it to myself to follow through and see
my dream through to the end. I revamp my training program and have
an excellent summer of training.
- For the first time in a couple years, I feel great. I feel like
I really have a shot. The feeling is fleeting, as it always is,
but it is good to know that I can still feel it. I think I am as
ready as I will be.
- The first races of the year in Fairbanks are over. So how do I
feel now? Mildly encouraged. What the heck does that mean? Well,
my first goal starting out the season was to improve on last year.
Now it wouldn't take much to improve on last year's results, but
it would be an important first step. And I did it. I didn't set
the world on fire, but at least I was surrounded on the results
sheet by the usual suspects I competed with a couple years ago:
Chad Giese, Scott Loomis, Nathan Schultz, Pete Vordenberg, etc,
rather than a minute or two behind them. So that is good. But it
won't put me on the Olympic team. Now I know that I am a longshot
to make the team, but unless I dare to dream, I have no chance at
all. In these races, I was about the 13th American and everyone
who has a shot at the team was there. Only the top eight, at the
most, will make the team. I will need at least four races where
I am solidly in the top ten in order to even be considered. So I
am on the outside looking in, but at least I am looking in the right
direction, unlike last year. A little hope remains.
31 , 2001
- A very good race in Silver Star, but then it is all downhill.
A bad skate race, and then races cancelled in the Midwest put a
huge hamper on my chances. I skied well in the Gold Cup, but I am
not at the point that I need to be, and there just aren't enough
races left. I am skiing well, and I have to be happy about that,
but my chance of making the Olympic team is going from slim to none.
- Nationals was a disaster. I skied pretty well, but the weather
just kept me from putting it all together on any one day. Read
about it here.
So I did not make the 2002 Olympic Team. Read
how I was feeling right after Nationals