2010 Winter Olympics Vancouver, Canada
I first fell in love with the Olympics when I was 8 years old. I was captivated by the magnitude of the Calgary Olympics and drawn to the stories of the athletes who were a part of it and those who attempted to be. The idea of putting everything on the line and going for it with the possibility of failure was always part of the allure. I learned as much as I could about other Olympians and how they had reached their dreams. I realized that training and preparing for the Olympics was not something that would take a few years. Instead, I prepared for a huge part of my life to be dedicated towards my dream. I knew I would have to make many sacrifices but I knew that it would be worth it.
Training for the Olympics has always been the easy part for me. I never ceased to have the energy or the desire to get up and put the time in. I quickly learned that effort and time would not be the biggest hurdle for me. The opportunity to train, travel and compete both domestically and internationally is expensive. I did not have it easy growing up and have always had a job to support my training and racing. Money has always been tight and without a cushion to fall back on I often hammered through my days with training and work to return home exhausted. Remembering the stories of other Olympians I gained strength in knowing that the struggle is what makes the moments of success shine even brighter. My financial situation made me tough and made me want it really bad, my dream of the Olympics kept me moving forward. I trained hard for almost 15 years and during the summer of 2009, just 5 months shy of 2010, I found myself exhausted and unable to train. A switch in teams and sponsors left me with very little once they heard I was ill. With 3 months to go before the qualifying races I finally felt better and gained my strength, endurance and speed back quickly. As if it was a bad dream, I found myself way off pace finishing 31st in the opening races of the season. Many people did not think I would make it. On a ski shortly after the first events I remember thinking hard about all the years, all the hours and all the sacrifices I had made during those times. I decided it was all worth it! Whether or not I made the Olympic Team would never take away from how hard I had tried and to me that was the most important part. So with nothing to lose…I went BIG! I trained hard, rested hard and lived life knowing I was proud of my efforts no matter what happened. Thankfully I still had my trusty fleet of Salomon skis and CXC agreed to help me with waxing and logistics.
The 2010 US Olympic Team selection was based on the USSA National Ranking list. A complicated system that gives points to the athletes based on the quality of competitors in the top 5 and a racers percentage back from the winner and counts the athletes 4 best points races in the past 12 months. I knew the point system well and knew that I needed at least one more really good race to make the team. I focused my training on the 10km Freestyle race at US National Championships. I had won this event in prior National Championships and all of the best women in the US would be there including the national team who spends most of the season racing in Europe. I dedicated my race to Laura McCabe who I had met while training in the Methow. Laura had recently lost her husband to a rare Thyroid Cancer and I was so inspired by how strong she was. Looking after her two little girls Laura would invite me to do intervals with her before the sun came up. I went out of the start gate racing for Laura and the girls. I raced hard and when I crossed the finished line I looked up to see my name on the scoreboard in first. I was so happy. A few minutes later I was displaced to second by Kikkan Randall but it was still a fantastic race.
Having earned the opportunity to represent the United States of America at the 2010 Winter Olympics was an unbelievable honor. After so many years of hard work and sacrifice I knew that I would remember each moment in great detail. Walking in the Opening Ceremonies, skiing and racing alongside other athletes with similar goals and dreams they had accomplished, hearing my name as I entered the final stretch of the stadium and having my entire family there to watch and witness it all. The 2010 Olympics were a time for me to represent not only my country but the support of all of those who helped me reach my goal. I knew my friends, family and community would be cheering and there is no greater feeling then showing them how much that meant then by skiing my very bes
2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, CAN.
In 2006 the US took 17 cross country athletes to the Turino Olympics. For 2010 the US took 11 athletes 6 men and 5 women. Heading in to the National Championships the final qualifying races for the games I sat in 9th on the list for men. It would take some incredible races at Nationals for me to make the team. Coincidentally I had my best races ever at US Nationals finishing a personal best 5th in the 30km classic and 8th, 9th and 13th in the other races. Great races for me but not enough to earn a spot on the Olympic team in Vancouver, however I did qualify for the Pre-Olympic World Cup in Canmore, AB.
Happily I had two teammates who made the US Olympic Team, my main training partner and roommate Garrott Kuzzy and my girlfriend (now wife) Caitlin. For the past four years we had all trained many hours together and it was great to see my teammates make the big show. I was so fired up for the races and for the first time in my life I yelled at the television and computer as I cheered for Caitlin, Kuz and all the Americans. I timed my training so that I could follow every race live. Thanks to Caitlin and Kuz I had an inside view of the Olympics. It was pretty fun to watch the Opening Ceremonies and talk to Caitlin on the phone at the same time. The television delay meant that she saw everything about 1 minute before all of us in Wisconsin.
It would have been great to be in Whistler and cheer in person however I still had races to contest in the SuperTour. Myself and the other bubble guys from the Olympics were competing for the Super Tour Leaders Jersey and the subsequent funding and start right for all the spring World Cups. I won my first two individual SuperTour races and the yellow jersey. More importantly I punched my ticket to Europe which included meeting Caitlin in Chicago for the flight to Switzerland to race an OPA Cup Race in France. Then it was on to Norway for the Period 4 World Cups and Sweden for World Cup Finals. These were my first European World Cup Races and I gained a lot of experience. My best races were the 50km Holmenkollen World Cup where I finished 37th and the top American and the Falun 15k Freestyle where I finished 32nd.