Birthdate: June 25, 1984
Birthplace: St. Paul, MN
Hometown: Crested Butte, CO
Height: 5′ 11″
High School: Crested Butte Academy – 2003
College: Dartmouth College – 2008
Being born in Minnesota, I grew up during my single digit years skiing on the small rollers of the mid-west. I began skiing when I was 2 years old when my parents mounted a pair of whittled wooden planks on my feet and pushed me down the hill of our front yard. I fell down, started crying, and that was about it for that year so I guess I officially began skiing at the age of 3. My parents would wake me early in the morning nearly every weekend throughout the winters to go skiing at the surrounding areas. I must have enjoyed this more than our yard since I quickly caught on and fell in love with the sport.
At 7 years of age, I took up racing and joined the local race team at Buck Hill. Skiing under legendary coach Erich Sailer at a place that has sprouted quite a few big names in the sport such as Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Kildow (Vonn), I acquired a solid racing foundation and technical background. I soon lived and breathed racing.
The Middle Years
Seeing that I was becoming passionate about skiing, my parents decided to make the move to Crested Butte, CO in 1995 when I was 11 years old, a place they had been eying for a while and where we had come to camp and vacation for many years before then. Colorado added an entire new element to skiing. I experienced my first powder days and amazing extreme terrain for which Crested Butte is known. I started ripping up the extremes at any chance I got, beginning at 8 years old with our first winter vacation trip to Crested Butte. I can definitely attribute my development to the skier I am today not only to the on-course training, but also to the off-piste terrain that Colorado offered.
In high school, I joined the Crested Butte Academy and got the taste of full-time competition, traveling throughout the nation and globe to race and train. It was a bumpy ride, as it is usually for most, as I came of age and entered the FIS race class (internationally ranked sanctioned races). It was a battle to lower my ranking and improve start positions in Nor-Ams (North American Cup Series) and elite FIS races. There were many times that I came close to making a name for myself at the big-time junior events, where the spotlight was, such as at the Junior Olympics or qualifying for the J3 Topolino races or the World Junior Champs. However, I was just off the pace or luck would stand against me just enough. I didn’t back down though (to quote a little Tom Petty), and maybe that is where my drive today originated from. I did begin breaking through, staying among the top skiers of my age and qualifying for U.S. Development camps to Europe and around the nation.
Upon graduating high school, I deferred from Dartmouth College and used my post-graduate year to race and train throughout Europe for almost 4 months of that season. Since Europe is the heartland of ski racing, it is the place to go to test your ability and toughness and build on these skiing elements to become a stronger and faster skier. It was an amazing experience for me, both skiing wise and culturally, and prepared me for the next chapter of my skiing career: the collegiate circuit.
Since making the U.S. Ski Team didn’t appear to be a part of my immediate future, I decided that pursuing an education and skiing for a school like Dartmouth College was more important to me at the time. I could work on a degree while developing more speed in my skiing at the same time. The collegiate circuit only competes in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom and since these events were more of my forte before college, I believed the college skiing program could work well for me. It is the more difficult path to take to the upper tiers of ski racing, but I was hoping to stay focused and join the likes of Jimmy Cochran or Paul McDonald, who had made the US Team out of Dartmouth my freshman year, just to name a few examples.
I believe I experienced my biggest break-through while skiing in college for the Dartmouth Ski Team. I joined, in my opinion, the best collegiate alpine team in the country and skied with guys like Evan Weiss (2000-2004 U.S. Ski Team member and again in the 2005-06 season), which was a key factor to my development and collegiate success. My freshman year, I became the overall EISA (Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association) SL leader for the season and topped it off by winning the 2005 NCAA championship slalom. It was the year I was looking for. My world rankings dropped significantly and my focus grew to become one of the best skiers in the world as I knew it was still a real possibility.
During the next three years I racked up 2 more individual NCAA championship podiums and another EISA slalom title in 2007, winning four out of the six slaloms on the circuit that year and finishing second in the others, including a second in that year’s NCAA championship slalom by 0.04 seconds. 2007, while I was captain of the men’s alpine team, also marked the year where our team won the overall NCAA championship for the first time in 32 years. It was an unbelievable experience I’ll never forget and earned our team a trip to Washington D.C. to visit President Bush at the White House. It was an amazing team effort and what college skiing is all about.
I kept racing Nor-Am Series races and U.S. National Championship races any chance I had aside from the collegiate circuit and when I could get away from the classes I was taking at school. I was having some growing success battling with the National team guys on that level as well. In the January 2008 Nor-Am Series in Sunday River, I was second in a second run of GS and won the first run of the first slalom. Nerves took over a bit for second run, as I hadn’t been in that sort of situation before, and I ended up 4th overall, but I stormed back again the second day of slalom coming down with a third place first run. The second run once again didn’t go my way, but I was still excited about the results and I proved to myself that I could hang with that crowd, giving me a good confidence boost.
After these races and back at work at school, I received a call from my coach Peter Dodge that the U.S. Ski Team wanted to bring me along on a trip with them to race a series of Europa Cups (considered one step below World Cups and where many World Cup racers still compete). I was so pumped and quickly arranged to meet the team in Europe a little later during their trip so that I would only miss two weeks of classes during the eight and a half week winter term, and only 2 carnival race weekends before NCAAs. My first race was a slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, where with a world rank of just above 100, I had a bib number of about 75. This signified that in front of me there were about 30 people in the world absent from that race…quite a field. I ended up having 6 Europa Cup starts that trip, 4 slalom and 2 GS, and I ended up not finishing one race. In one of the slaloms in Garmish, Germany I did make the top 30 in the first run meaning that I raced the second at the front of the field because of the flip 30 rule, only to hook a tip and tumble down the hill, but that’s the way ski racing goes. Overall, I wasn’t at all discouraged about the trip; I knew it would be tough and if anything, I’m psyched to learn from the experience to go back and kick some behind.
I graduated from Dartmouth just this June of 2008 as a double major in engineering modified with studio art (an engineering degree leaning towards structure and design) and geology. When I entered Dartmouth College, my world rankings were close to 475 in both slalom and giant slalom…at the end of last season, at graduation, my rank in slalom was down to 83 and 240 in giant slalom. Looking back, I definitely consider my Dartmouth career to be successful and even more than I hoped it would be from the beginning. I am very happy that I ended up attending the school and very proud to have been a part of such an amazing team. I salute every one of my teammates, and my thanks goes out to my parents who gave up a lot to help me attend Dartmouth without myself having to repay impossible amounts of debt.
Now, going into my post-graduate career, I plan to team up with a few skiers in a similar situation as I am and with the same determination to pursue racing as a full-time career, in hopes to qualify for the U.S. Ski Team and, in time, make the World Cup circuit. If all goes well enough, representing the United States in future Olympics is not out of the picture.
Thanks to a win and a result while at a camp in New Zealand in August 2008, I lowered my current slalom points down to 9.88, giving me a world rank of 61, and getting infinitely closer to the top 60 world rank qualification requirement for the U.S. B Team that I am gunning for. With a little luck, a few opportunities, and some support, I believe I have a great shot of making it there and beyond this winter season. We shall see.