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He doesn't sleep... he waits (the interview!)

Fri, Oct  13, 2006 - By Pete Vordenberg -

What is going on with a few other ski programs out there?

PV = Pete Vordenberg
EF = Erik Flora - Alaska Pacific University

PV: Erik, what is your back ground in skiing?
EF: I grew up skiing in the PNSA at the age of two (Norweigen parent!). Skiing has always been a part of my life. I spent 18 years racing and the last 8 years coaching.

PV: When did you start coaching?
EF: 8 years ago.

PV: I think you just said that.

PV: What is going on with APU these days?
EF: It is an exciting time at APU. We have rejuvenated the program and are uniting Alaska's elite skiers. Our elite team is strong with new and returning members, our junior is growing rapidly, our community based master programs are stronger than ever, and I have a great staff. APU is on a roll!

PV: What have you been doing in training that you feel really good about?
EF: Consistency. As I tell my athletes, performance is a function of training and preparation. We are training hard, training well, and training consistent.  

PV: What would you have changed if you could?
EF: One element of my ski career, I would have joined program where I could have worked with a coach to develop my skiing. My career was spent bouncing from Jr skiing to NCAA to Olympic Education Program to being on my own to...I believe a supportive, stable program is a benefit to development.

PV: What is the focus of the program this year?
EF: The focus of our program is the athletes. This fall we have rebuilt our Elite, Masters, and Junior programs.  For the coming year we will focus on recruiting skiers for our University program.

PV: What else would like everyone to know about APU?
EF: APU is a great resource as a US development program. We have the ability to develop an athlete from a junior through the elite, plus the athlete has the option to get a college education on an extremely flexible schedule. Not to mention our year round support with coaching, skiing 11 months a year (including our own glacier facility), and a supportive staff who is passionate about developing US athletes.

PS = Paul Stone – head coach at UVM

PV: Which Chuck Norris quote best personifies you?
PS: I guess I haven't watched enough Chuck Norris to find one.  I would like to think that this paraphrased quote by Bjorn Daehlie personifies my view of success, "A champion is something you have been and can become, but you are not a champion when you start a race unless you win again."

PV: How long have you been involved in skiing?
PS:  On skis for 21 years, raced for 11 years

PV: Why?
PS: Best sport I can imagine to be a part of.

PV: How long as a coach?
PS: 6 years.

PV: Why?
PS: 4 years of Bud Fisher in my ear saying "why would you ever want to do anything else."  He was/is right.  I get paid to do something I would do for free if I had a place to live and food to eat.

PV: Where do you want to see American XC skiing go?
PS: The direction I think it is headed.... the top.

PV: How does UVM fit into that question?
PS: As a place for athletes to develop while they are in school and not ready to go on the road 100%.

PV: What have you done (with the team) that you think was really good?
PS: Taken them to Lake Placid to get their butts kicked.

PV: What have you done (with the team) that you would do differently or not at all next time?
PS: Tons of stuff, I am always learning, it is a two street between the athlete and coach.

PV: Anything else?
PS: I'm not exactly sure what a Catamount is but I am excited to be one. About a day later….  
PS: I guess I should have thought more about some of those answers a couple of guys took exception to the butt-kicking comment.  You can add that to the list Of stuff I'd do differently or not all I guess.

PV: hehehehehe…
PS: Not sure why Jesse Kosiba thought it personified me but he likes, "Chuck Norris does not sleep, he waits."

AG = Andrew Gardner - Middlebury College
PV = PV  

PV: Gardner - tell me what you are expecting from your athletes this season...
AG: Skiing is a tricky deal: I don’t think it’s easy to lie to yourself in a race, but I think its tough to be honest with how much work it takes to be great.  With our skiers, I'm expecting a commitment to come to each practice and be FULLY there.  I’m expecting real investment on training.   We have unbelievable resources and support for skiing here.  I’m lucky in that so far everyone in the group I have now is setting a great tone for the future at Middlebury.

PV: What is your background in skiing?
AG: I got into as a junior.  I was always pack fodder but loved it like I was winning. I skied with Nikolai Anikin’s program and then with Bates College.  I started coaching young at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School.  I did some service work for Swix and more for the Rocky Mountain Division at a handful of Junior Nationals.  I just started here a couple months ago and I’m new all over again.

PV: How long have you been coaching?
AG: 6 years. 10 if you count the tips I’ve given my dad.

PV: What role do you want Middlebury to play in US Skiing?
AG: I want to be a feeder program to US development.  Patty Ross has said “We'll give them every tool and opportunity that we possibly can to develop them as skiers and as people.”  I want to motivate change in collegiate skiing to be less insular and more inclusive of USSA.  I want to develop Americans to be skiers.  I want to see Middlebury win NCAAs with only Americans on the team. (Perhaps a Canadian or two.)  I believe we can do all of that.  Assistant coach Patty Ross and Alpine Coach Stever Bartlett do too and I’m lucky to work with them.

PV: How you gonna do that?
AG: I’m going to come to work every day and do a really good job. I’m going to treat my athletes (all of them) like they’re on the national team so that they’ll have no excuse to act like anything but devoted skiers (with a significant college workload, of course.)  I’ll promote our program.  I’ll talk to as many coaches as possible to find out what they know. I’ll make fast skis.  I’ll inspire, cajole, and manipulate athletes to work hard and to extract meaning from that hard work.  If I have a coaching ethic, it’s stolen from Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus.”

PV: Anything else?
AG: We have a pretty soulful sport here.  I like that there are increasingly fewer secrets and that working harder is being put at a premium.  I like that coaches are more accountable.  You can see what I’m doing almost daily at

RK = Rick

PV: Rick…
RK: Since 1976 when I started ski racing at Michigan Tech. Started coaching in 1982 .

RK: I'd like to see many many more youth clubs started across the snow belt of the country. Plus I'd like to see way more visibility for our national teams. Last but not least, win some big ski races. 

RK:  Our job with the the SVSEF is to be the best youth sports program in our local community and to be the best development ski program in the USA. 

RK: Growing the SVSEF program at all levels. We have gone from a team of 30 kids to a program that now has 150ish kids very year. Plus we are winning our share of ski races at all levels of the sport in the US. 

RK: 2 things to do better - be more focused on execution of day to day coaching and work diligently to improve my spey casting. 

RK: Thanks for your efforts with Team Today - you gotta believe!!!

PV: The Chuck Norris quote best personifying Rick is: "When Chuck Norris does push ups he doesn't push his body up, he pushes the earth down."

AH = Abi Holt – SVSEF

PV: (asks all the same questions)
AH: Boring.  This is what you should have asked:

  1. Richard Simmons is?
  2. Your favorite Jackson?
  3. Does prison scare you?
  4. Dumbest sport invented?
  5. Wigs are cool because...


PV: True.  But since I didn't, here are my answers to those questions:

  1. America's next president.
  2. Michael and Lisa Marie Presley's child is my favorite Jackson - the grandson of The King of Rock & Roll and son of The King of Pop.
  3. Chuck Norris isn't scared of Prison, Prison is scared of Chuck Norris.
  4. Scoop-Ball.  A game, among many, invented by Eli Brown where rule changes are frequent and administered after the play by the game's inventor and current champion.
  5. Wigs ARE cool?  Sweet!

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