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How Should the U S Fix Their Nordic Ski Team?



 
 
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  #1  
Old February 21st 06, 12:39 AM
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Default How Should the U S Fix Their Nordic Ski Team?

It seems to me that the tried and true method of developing skiers in
North America and having them race in North America is not working... I
mean, France beat us!

How do we fix the problem?

Some ideas;

1) Have our athletes stay, train and race in Europe during the ski
season. If this is too much of a burden for our athletes, then they
probably aren't committed to being the best anyway. Then, have the
National Championships in March when they come home from Europe.
Nationals should set the team for the following year except for those
who are in the Red Group and automatically qualify for expenses paid
etc.

2) Identify athletes who have no chance of placing better than 50th,
even 40th and leave them home. We can't waste valuable monetary
resources on skiers who just don't have it.

3) Focus on Sprint racing and Marathons. France had a guy named Herve
Balland who would ski Worldloppets and then join the French Team to ski
the 50K at the Olympics and World Championships. He won medals... A
skier like Carl Swenson fits that mold. Certain skiers would fit that
category. Sprinters like Christian Zorzi have proven very effective at
going 10K in a Relay. Lets develop speed first. Skiers like Andy Newell
and Torin Koos should ski everything up to 10K in distance.

4) Identify skiers with huge talent like Kris Freeman and devote those
limited resources to developing them.

Any comments or ideas?

J Tegeder
"Keep training, lycra never lies!" JT

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  #2  
Old February 21st 06, 01:19 AM
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Default

wrote:

It seems to me that the tried and true method of developing skiers in
North America and having them race in North America is not working...
I mean, France beat us!


You still picking on France? France had four in the top 20 at Davos
and Otepaeae in classical and three in freestyle in Nove Mesto,
including winner Vittoz and fifth place, Emmanuel Jonnier.

Agree that the back and forth to Europe is a killer and that training
and competition in Europe is generally more valuable for at least
learning what it takes to be at the top and how to get there. Tough
life, tho, and not everyone is made for it. Remember, Becky Scott was
50th before she was on the podium. The important thing is that there's
a difference between being 50 of 54 vs. 50 of 75.

Gene



How do we fix the problem?

Some ideas;

1) Have our athletes stay, train and race in Europe during the ski
season. If this is too much of a burden for our athletes, then they
probably aren't committed to being the best anyway. Then, have the
National Championships in March when they come home from Europe.
Nationals should set the team for the following year except for those
who are in the Red Group and automatically qualify for expenses paid
etc.

2) Identify athletes who have no chance of placing better than 50th,
even 40th and leave them home. We can't waste valuable monetary
resources on skiers who just don't have it.

3) Focus on Sprint racing and Marathons. France had a guy named Herve
Balland who would ski Worldloppets and then join the French Team to
ski the 50K at the Olympics and World Championships. He won medals...
A skier like Carl Swenson fits that mold. Certain skiers would fit
that category. Sprinters like Christian Zorzi have proven very
effective at going 10K in a Relay. Lets develop speed first. Skiers
like Andy Newell and Torin Koos should ski everything up to 10K in
distance.

4) Identify skiers with huge talent like Kris Freeman and devote those
limited resources to developing them.

Any comments or ideas?

J Tegeder
"Keep training, lycra never lies!" JT

  #3  
Old February 21st 06, 03:25 AM
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Default

Touche. France has better skiers than traditional nordic powers like
Finland.
Scott placed no better than the 40's at Nagano.

  #4  
Old February 21st 06, 03:55 AM
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Default

In article .com,
wrote:

It seems to me that the tried and true method of developing skiers in
North America and having them race in North America is not working... I
mean, France beat us!


France has some strong skiers, both in cross country and in biathlon.

How do we fix the problem?

Some ideas;

1) Have our athletes stay, train and race in Europe during the ski
season.


That's probably the surest way for athletes to reach the top levels
of the sport -- but it is quite hard, so it is easy to see why
comparatively few American skiers do so.

If this is too much of a burden for our athletes, then they
probably aren't committed to being the best anyway.


Most probably have lives outside skiing -- educational plans,
careers, relationships, etc. -- that make this difficult. Unless a
skier really reaches the top of the sport, he or she probably has fewer
career and educational options waiting in North America the longer he or
she continues racing and training in Europe. I suspect that European
skiers probably find it easier, for obvious reasons, to integrate the
rest of their lives with their sport.

Then, have the
National Championships in March when they come home from Europe.
Nationals should set the team for the following year except for those
who are in the Red Group and automatically qualify for expenses paid
etc.

2) Identify athletes who have no chance of placing better than 50th,
even 40th and leave them home.


That's pretty Draconian -- for example, Beckie Scott used to be that
far back in the pack, and it is not so evident (except in hindsight)
which of the skiers at that level might eventually be on the podium.

We can't waste valuable monetary
resources on skiers who just don't have it.


It's so hard, though, to see who "just doesn't have it." I have
heard stories from coaches in many different sports who thought that an
athlete was hopeless at some stage of his or her development, only to
see that athlete eventually develop into a great champion. Conversely,
some gifted prodigies burn out and never realize what appeared to
everyone to be obvious potential.

3) Focus on Sprint racing and Marathons. France had a guy named Herve
Balland who would ski Worldloppets and then join the French Team to ski
the 50K at the Olympics and World Championships. He won medals... A
skier like Carl Swenson fits that mold. Certain skiers would fit that
category. Sprinters like Christian Zorzi have proven very effective at
going 10K in a Relay. Lets develop speed first. Skiers like Andy Newell
and Torin Koos should ski everything up to 10K in distance.

4) Identify skiers with huge talent like Kris Freeman and devote those
limited resources to developing them.

Any comments or ideas?

J Tegeder
"Keep training, lycra never lies!" JT

  #5  
Old February 21st 06, 05:04 AM
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I believe you are looking at the wrong end of the problem.

All your suggestions deal with the existing elite racers and how to improve
their performance. These are short term solutions since eventually these
athletes will retire and you haven't developed a system to replace them.

In my opinion, the key to long term success is to start with programs that
recruit lots of very young children, get them involved in the pure enjoyment
of the sport and perfect their technique. From that point there should be a
progression of development from fun, to fun racing, to fun training, to
serious racing, to serious training and so on until you have successful
elite racers and a stream of replacements following them. At all stages
skiers must have competent coaching with coaches who have received adequate
training for the level of skiers they are working with. Skiers should be
encouraged to participate to their level of ability and commitment. If they
don't progress to the elite level they should be encouraged to stay in the
system as recreational skiers or racers and ideally to help with coaching
and pass on the skills that they have learned.

It takes a community to produce elite competitors. Very few of them spring
fully developed out of nowhere.

Scott

wrote in message
oups.com...
It seems to me that the tried and true method of developing skiers in
North America and having them race in North America is not working... I
mean, France beat us!

How do we fix the problem?

Some ideas;

1) Have our athletes stay, train and race in Europe during the ski
season. If this is too much of a burden for our athletes, then they
probably aren't committed to being the best anyway. Then, have the
National Championships in March when they come home from Europe.
Nationals should set the team for the following year except for those
who are in the Red Group and automatically qualify for expenses paid
etc.

2) Identify athletes who have no chance of placing better than 50th,
even 40th and leave them home. We can't waste valuable monetary
resources on skiers who just don't have it.

3) Focus on Sprint racing and Marathons. France had a guy named Herve
Balland who would ski Worldloppets and then join the French Team to ski
the 50K at the Olympics and World Championships. He won medals... A
skier like Carl Swenson fits that mold. Certain skiers would fit that
category. Sprinters like Christian Zorzi have proven very effective at
going 10K in a Relay. Lets develop speed first. Skiers like Andy Newell
and Torin Koos should ski everything up to 10K in distance.

4) Identify skiers with huge talent like Kris Freeman and devote those
limited resources to developing them.

Any comments or ideas?

J Tegeder
"Keep training, lycra never lies!" JT



  #6  
Old February 21st 06, 10:05 AM
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Scott Elliot wrote:
I believe you are looking at the wrong end of the problem.

All your suggestions deal with the existing elite racers and how to improve
their performance. These are short term solutions since eventually these
athletes will retire and you haven't developed a system to replace them.

In my opinion, the key to long term success is to start with programs that
recruit lots of very young children, get them involved in the pure enjoyment
of the sport and perfect their technique. From that point there should be a
progression of development from fun, to fun racing, to fun training, to
serious racing, to serious training and so on until you have successful
elite racers and a stream of replacements following them. At all stages
skiers must have competent coaching with coaches who have received adequate
training for the level of skiers they are working with. Skiers should be
encouraged to participate to their level of ability and commitment. If they
don't progress to the elite level they should be encouraged to stay in the
system as recreational skiers or racers and ideally to help with coaching
and pass on the skills that they have learned.

It takes a community to produce elite competitors. Very few of them spring
fully developed out of nowhere.

Scott



I agree. Last Wednsday I went to a local club race. There are at least
5 other ski clubs in the area, with a population of about 50,000. There
were at least 25 kids there. The other clubs are the same. With a
little creative extrapolation, that means that here in Norway on
Wednesdays which are popular for club races there are 10,000 kids doing
a ski race. How many kids participated in an XC race in the US last
week?

Even if my estimate is off by an order of magnitude, it still shows the
huge number of kids to tap into. That's the secret. Once you get the
raw material, the rest is almost easy!

Joseph

  #7  
Old February 21st 06, 02:02 PM
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It seems to me like in the US we are fighting a cultural thing. Here,
kids dream of growing up to be football and basketball stars. In
Europe, it's soccer, cycling, and cross country skiing. We probably
have a whole team of top notch elite skiers stuck shooting hoops and
tossing around a football. So I think the question is how do we get
more kids excited about the sport? Not a short term fix by any means.
We need a Lance Armstrong in our sport.

Doug

  #8  
Old February 21st 06, 02:37 PM
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you put the finger on the spot there...

  #9  
Old February 21st 06, 05:09 PM
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Scott, you are 100% correct. Development, development, development.

The US has the most juniors, and the most resources devoted to junior
racing of any country in the world. We've stepped it up a notch in
that respect in the last 5 years. Now we need to develop a clear
pipeline and provide viable ways to help talented and dedicated kids
stick with the sport and get the support they need to reach the elite
level.

Because of geography, we need to have regional centers where
knowledgeable coaches can work with promising regional talent. There
needs to be a signficant effort to raise the quality of coaching. We
need to provide education and find ways to share knowledge and
resources. We have an incredible number of dedicated, intelligent
coaches out there, but until recently, there has not been a big effort
to coordinate our efforts.

We fleshed a lot of these things out at the National Coaches Conference
last September and I dropped the ball in not following up with all of
the positive ideas that came out of there. Hopefully with some of the
new resources that are coming available at USST, we'll be able to
tackle this most important aspect - development.

That's how I see it anyway. Any ideas on how to specifically
accomplish some of these goals?

  #10  
Old February 21st 06, 06:28 PM
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Unfortunately, is seems like we are often competing against teams that
want to win at any cost, including using drugs, etc. I recall a report
from the last Olympics that stated a house used by a foreign nordic
team was full of used blood doping supplies. It sounds like the same
thing is going on again this Olympics. It's hard to compete against
cheaters. Personally, I liked the Olympics better before they were so
important that people would cheat to win.


wrote:
It seems to me that the tried and true method of developing skiers in
North America and having them race in North America is not working... I
mean, France beat us!

How do we fix the problem?

Some ideas;

1) Have our athletes stay, train and race in Europe during the ski
season. If this is too much of a burden for our athletes, then they
probably aren't committed to being the best anyway. Then, have the
National Championships in March when they come home from Europe.
Nationals should set the team for the following year except for those
who are in the Red Group and automatically qualify for expenses paid
etc.

2) Identify athletes who have no chance of placing better than 50th,
even 40th and leave them home. We can't waste valuable monetary
resources on skiers who just don't have it.

3) Focus on Sprint racing and Marathons. France had a guy named Herve
Balland who would ski Worldloppets and then join the French Team to ski
the 50K at the Olympics and World Championships. He won medals... A
skier like Carl Swenson fits that mold. Certain skiers would fit that
category. Sprinters like Christian Zorzi have proven very effective at
going 10K in a Relay. Lets develop speed first. Skiers like Andy Newell
and Torin Koos should ski everything up to 10K in distance.

4) Identify skiers with huge talent like Kris Freeman and devote those
limited resources to developing them.

Any comments or ideas?

J Tegeder
"Keep training, lycra never lies!" JT


 




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