World Cup and Olympic race results may make the headlines, but the international results at the tip of the pyramid don’t happen without a strong domestic base. Jessie Diggins, Rosie Brennan, Ben Ogden, et al., miss no opportunity to mention the importance of their club team – with whom, notably, they spend over half the year training, including the crucial summer base period – and it’s not just talk. USST coaches Matt Whitcomb and Greta Anderson have sounded similar notes, emphasizing that the deep development that they see happening in this country’s ski clubs is what makes possible the performances they see on the national-team level.
This series gives top American domestic ski clubs the attention they deserve, previewing current athletes and looking back at last winter’s results.
When I did this series last year for FasterSkier, I previewed six teams: Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center, Bridger Ski Foundation, Craftsbury Green Racing Project, Stratton Mountain School, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, and Team Birkie.
The same six teams are the focus again this season. The criteria for inclusion here are self-defined and slightly idiosyncratic, but are roughly, “possess two or more athletes engaged in professional nordic skiing, in a ski club context that is not an NCAA ski team.”
We’ll have a standalone interview with Gus Schumacher later this fall, for example, but nothing here on his club for the last decade-plus, Alaska Winter Stars, because he is the only pro skier there. And the University of Utah ski team contains roughly half the U.S. Ski Team D-Team these days, but it is an NCAA program, and most of its athletes also have a separate club affiliation in addition to Utah.
Those are the unofficial standards. Let me know if I missed someone.
Related reading: 2021 Domestic Clubs Preview
Disclaimer relevant to this site’s coverage of domestic skiing in general, particularly relevant when I write about APU: I live in Anchorage, and have trained with the APUNSC Masters program for nine seasons and counting. I paid APU roughly $2,000 this season for year-round coaching and to participate with the Masters team. On the one hand, the Masters group has been an important part of my personal and athletic life for nearly a decade; on the other hand, on a day-to-day basis the Masters team has essentially nothing to do and no overlap with the APU Elite Team, and is never coached by Elite Team Coach Erik Flora. I don’t receive free gear from APU or easier interval assignments from my Masters coach, or anything in that vein, when I write about the APU Elite Team or its athletes.