I am writing you in regards to a recent accident with my dogs. They were hit by a car and are in full recovery mode.
My dogs have been a big part of my ski coaching and community development work the past five years. The majority of my ski career has been about how fast I can get around a course. It has been about technique talks, performance measures, lactate acid profiles, nutrition, and how much I could put on the weight belt and still do a pull up. Well, today and much like how I grew up, I just love being on skis. A good friend once told me, “After we retired, you kinda of stepped into this whole new world.” At the time, I didn’t think twice about what he said. I set out simply to get to know my home state after being consumed with the Olympic dream for the past decade or so. At some point without even trying I didn’t even leave the state for three years. I just fell in love with Alaska all over again. Many of you I haven’t seen for a long time, while others I talk to almost every week. Every conversation leads somewhere and builds our community.
Photo Credit: Eric Packer. The backyard: Chugach Mountains.
Over the past few years I have focused on Alpine and Nordic programs, bike programs, and dog programs. Even got my feet wet with a little commercial fishing in Bristol Bay. Life as an Olympian always has ups and downs. One day you are winning national championships, walking into Olympic stadiums behind the American flag and the next you are all alone training for the next goal. Top of the world with major global companies cheering you on then back to your hometown teaching grass root programs. The whole process can be very humbling and a constant reminder that an Olympic title is just words behind your name, and the true journey is in the places you go and people you meet along the way.
Traveled the world as Seniors in High School chasing the dream with Sun Valley Ski Team
I often think about what taught me more, the Olympic journey or being involved with grass root programs around the world. Maybe it is one in the same. I am sincerely grateful to have had the opportunity to give back to Alaska in a truly amazing way after I retired from my Olympic career.
Photo Credit: Seth Adams. Arctic Village: Land of the Caribou. Look up Arctic Village Alaska to learn about one of the most amazing places in the World.
Often in my nordic pursuits, I remind myself of balance and how I grew up. My philosophy relies on multi sport experiences and the importance of being involved with multiple disciplines: Climbing a mountain, a casual nordic ski, playing soccer or getting pulled by a dog.
Taking a group of Juneau nordic skiers up on Eagle Crest last winter was a highlight. 20 Nordic skiers mixing it up with an epic powder day in Juneau. The mountain was packed with powder chasers. It was fun to see a group of young people enjoying the mountain together. Even in skiing, the nature of the disciplines can create divisions among the participants. That day everybody was just skiing, and enjoying the mountain. Another highlight was teaching Anaktuvuk Pass (a remote village in rural Alaska) how to alpine ski after they had been Nordic skiing for 6-7 years. A young fifth grader said it best "Normal (nordic )Skiing is awesome, but this alpine is crazy fun once you get your boots on."
Enjoying the Brooks range on a beautiful Saturday spring day. We towed all the students on snowmachines, out to the mountains. It was totally old school just loving the mountains. These students have been introduced to Nordic, skijoring, biathlon, and alpine.
At the end of the day, the one program I will always believe in for young people is our dog program. Even more powerful than zooming down a mountain on skis or riding a bike. We travel the state with 6 dogs, 5 coaches, and a vet. We use skijoring as the activity and the whole week is about the connection with working dogs and the human connection with these amazing animals.
A Veterinarian doing an EKG with students
Sivu pulling Anaktuvuk Pass students Falla pulling a Point Lay Skier
Please help get my two best coaches get back on the trail!
Even a small donation can help these two get back on the trail and if you are not able to make a donation please share.
I will be running nordic and skijoring lessons in Anchorage, Eagle River and Mat-su during Covid and planning for spring-summer programs if safe for us and participants. Nordic skiing can be a great way to unwind during Covid (Nordic skiers are natural at social distancing) and a dog even makes it better. We also can hook you up with a great skijoring dog if interested. Roste comes from a world championship kennel in Norway (https://www.nonstopdogwear.com/en-int/athletes/lena-boysen-hillestad/) and Sivu comes from an Alaskan world famous Seavey Family mushing line. I still like going fast. Please contact if interested. Feel free to even ask a simple question like, “What nordic ski should I buy this winter?”