Episode 4: Ben Ogden Unfiltered (now with good audio quality)


When I pre-listen to these podcasts to write these blurbs for the site, I do so as a fan as well as as an editor. I need to know what the episode says to be able to write something helpful about it, of course, but also I find this stuff interesting — this is something I would listen to anyway, even if this weren’t my job — and I want to see what I can learn from it, as a skier and a ski fan.

All of which is a roundabout way to say that my notes file for this episode is roughly 2,000 words long. Ben Ogden is a great interview, and he held back little here.

Would you like to know what advice Ogden has for young skiers? How he worked to recalibrate his mental preparation when moving from college skiing to the World Cup? What changes he thinks FIS should make to race formats to increase the entertainment value of its television product? The one crazy thing he really wants to ask Klæbo about his dominance?

It almost seems unfair that the man who is currently the brightest star in American men’s skiing is probably its most interesting, and certainly its most unassuming, but there you have it.

Ogden answered all these questions, and then some. The man makes a five-minute riff on the rigors of living out of a suitcase worth listening to; you will definitely want to hear his thoughts on what he is doing differently to prep for next season. Or who’s the funniest guy on the World Cup. Or which he would keep if he had to give up one of either historic Toyota repair or coffee, both passions that he holds dear.

The below video has literally nothing to do with the content of this episode, but I find it hilarious that raw footage of Ogden playing Kendama is among the current media downloads available from U.S. Ski & Snowboard, so I am embedding it here. File it under “interesting Ben Ogden passions,” and trust me that it is not out of keeping with the spirit of the man or his podcast episode. (Video credit: courtesy U.S. Ski & Snowboard.)

*   *   *

I’m not going to copy and paste my whole notes file in this blurb, but here are a few excerpts to give you a sense of what’s in store:

On Ogden’s view of skiing growing up, and his approach to “just skiing” versus “ski training per se”:

“For a really long time, through most of high school, skiing was just something I couldn’t go without. … When I wasn’t training, I was doing jumps on my skis, skiing rails and stuff in the backyard, or skiing through the woods at Bill Koch’s house, or whatever it may be. I was pretty single-minded in my obsession with all forms of skiing, not just training.”

On his advice for current young racers:

“If you’re in high school and listening to this, I would say, just take advantage of all opportunities that come your way.” If you can go to a race that’s outside your normal worldview or racing parameters? “Go there, and race your heart out.” Ogden added, “Just say yes to things. That’s what I’ve always done, and it’s taken me a long way.”

On the mental recalibration of moving from success at a lower level of racing (in this case, the NCAA) to the World Cup, where everyone is as good as you or better:

“The mental aspect of racing on the World Cup is extremely important, and also extremely challenging. It’s really hard to pull up to the start line of a World Cup and feel as though you belong, feel as though you’re a competitor, and not count yourself out before the race even starts. ’Cause you look around and it’s Klæbo, it’s Chanavat, it’s Jouve, it’s Pål Golberg. They’re all these guys, and they’re men. They’re adults; they make money; they have kids; they have cars; they’re composed — whatever it is. And when you’re fresh out of college on the World Cup, that’s not you. And it’s really hard to not count yourself out because of that.”

On the one thing he would want to say to Klæbo about his dominance:

Just kidding, you’ll have to listen to the podcast yourself for that one! (No, really, you really should.)

This episode is embedded above. We actually have a producer now, so the final product should be much more listenable than our first three episodes were. I am excited for this improvement, and I thank you for your patience with our development curve. I’m a lawyer by training and Big Dog is like a health care technology consultant or something smart, so clearly we have no idea how to do anything practical. That’s what the producer is for.

One quick caveat, there is a single, offhand “f*ck it” at one point here; I have therefore marked this episode as “explicit.” And one more endemic caveat, podcast content does not represent the views of either the Nordic Insights editorial side or its advertisers. There’s certainly nothing untoward in here that I’m trying to distance myself from, but that is the arrangement we have in place, so I am going to start noting that now.

You can subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here, on Spotify here, or anywhere else you get your podcasts (here is our RSS Feed). Thank you as always for your support. If you would like to be the title sponsor of this podcast going forward, please be in touch.

— Gavin Kentch

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