Tuesday, December 8, 2009

World Cup Dusseldorf

Racing the Final, in the midst of two Ruskies. Tight racing, and plenty of carnage out there on the snow covered cobbles of Old Dusseldorf.

Long Hours. Lousy Pay. Hard work. Thanks to the US ServiceTeam for getting my Rossi's rolling in Dusseldorf. 6th place, 3.8sec from the win.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Photos from the Road

The stark landscape, the white trees and dark days in Scandinavia's northlands make for some unique perspectives. I took this photo on the walk from the cabin to the stadium in Beitostolen, Norway.

More of the Norwegian woods. This, though, is a little rarer sight. Due to the sun. The glimpses have been fleeting but welcomed.

With the alpine resort of Ruka in the background, the ladies of the US Ski Team do a little posing en route to the dinner table.

Rolling the rock. In Finland no less. We dominated against the swiss and our rivals from just north of us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Fight Of Our Lives

The Fight Of Our Lives, an article written for SkiTrax Magazine

I remember the call. No, not the call, not the one announcing cancer’s finality. No, I’m talking about the one that comes before, telling of cancer’s arrival. The call hits just as hard as being blindsided by a big rig. Scientific-sounding words dazing my mind much as a backyard brawler’s flurry of jabs and punches might. Undifferentiated anaplastic carcinoma… rectum cancer… highly malignant… massive, aggressive growth… At the start, as in the end, these words make little sense as we hear our friends and family given their chances to keep on eating, breathing, loving life and loving one another distilled into the cold, clinical, exacting nature of numerology.

First I think, no, this can’t be. Then, wait, what does this mean? Sure the odds aren’t so good, but miracles happen everyday, right? Then, I become numb – not knowing how to think or to feel or to react. Then comes the guilt. When did I last see them? When did I last tell them what they mean to my life? When did we last share a simple moment, a good conversation, enough time and the presence to soak it all in?

Twice my grandmother’s been given a Russian roulette’s chance at life because of cancer. Twice my Dad told me, “It doesn’t look good. But your Grandmother’s a fighter. She’s not going to give in to this.” Twice my Dad’s been right. Twice my grandmother’s beaten the odds. Twice she’s beaten cancer back.

Four years ago, Vidar Loefshus was my ski coach. Then, after the 2006 Torino Olympics, Vidar moved back to Norway. In the spring of 2008, at the urging of his girlfriend, Vidar went to the doctor where he was diagnosed with rectum cancer. Vidar is the kind of coach you hope one day you get the chance to work with. Because of Vidar, I am a better skier. Because of Vidar’s influence and example, I’m a better person. I cannot think of higher praise to give my friend.

I try to get a handle on cancer by thinking about it as a pie. I slice the pie in thirds. One of those slices, the biggest of the three slices, represents those of us today, statistically speaking, who will get cancer. My generation, the statistics are even more sobering. Flip a coin. Tails you’re lucky. Heads you’ve got a date with cancer, with chemo, with radiation, a dance with death. I can’t help but think there’s probably nobody reading this who hasn’t been directly affected by cancer.
I also can’t help but think about this as Vidar and I sit down at a hotel lobby in Beitostolen, Norway with the World Cup opener around the corner. “It came as a kind of shock – a real shock,” says Vidar as he tells me about his fight with cancer, which left him pooping into a bag and physically scarred, if not psychologically. “I think if this is the way I’m to end my life, I had a good life. I was thinking like this.”

During his six-week chemo and radiation course, Vidar road his bike, standing on the pedals the whole way because he couldn’t sit down on the plushest couch, let alone his bike seat. Five kilometers to the hospital; chemotherapy and radiation; five kilometers back home. Vidar’s personal way of showing the middle finger to the big C.

“There’s quite a bit of psychology in this. I think many people in athletics are strong-minded in meeting challenges. I don’t know. This is my feeling. I’ve always felt I’m strong in the mind. When this came around, I said, ‘I’m going to fight this.” I didn’t read much about the cancer or nothing. I put my trust in my doctors and hospitals that they were going to help me and I’m going to fight this as hard as I can the whole way. I was not going to give into the cancer. I didn’t ever surrender. I never gave up. I’d like to think this made a difference. But we are not created equal. Nor do we all face the same obstacles. Sometimes we have an unlucky lottery ticket. Sometimes we’re not in a position to fight it.”

Sean McCabe was one of these unlucky lottery ticket holders. “My, my, hey, hey, the king is gone,” goes the radio song. But Sean, you’re far from forgotten. I remember picking up the telephone, talking to you about going to the University of Utah. Thanks for the advice. I appreciated it then. I appreciate it now. I also remember staying in the studio above your workshop last Christmas, the low rumble and humm of woodworking machines putting me to sleep between training sessions. Or the little daily conversations we’d have – about art, sport or otherwise. You said, “In my life, I’ve been blessed to see color.” When I take in the colors of a pretty sunset or bask in the alpenglow at the end of a winter’s day, I’m the one blessed; that got to know you. I’m sorry that when you gave cancer a big middle finger, instead of getting the life you knew back you got six months. It just doesn’t seem right. But like my Grandmother and Vidar, you’ve molded others into a better shape. For this and more, thank you Sean. Your memory lives on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


"Everything is your own damned fault if you're any good."
-Ernest Hemingway in Green Hills of Africa

2009/2010 Race Schedule
Date City Country Race Series
11/13 Beitostolen Norway Scandinavian Cup
11/15 Beitostolen Norway Scandinavian Cup
11/22 Beitostolen Norway World Cup
11/28 Kuusamo Finland World Cup
11/29 Kuusamo Finland World Cup
12/12 Davos Switzerland World Cup
12/13 Davos Switzerland World Cup
12/19 Rogla Slovenia World Cup
12/20 Rogla Slovenia World Cup
12/27 Mazama Washington Regional
1/16 Otepaa Estonia World Cup
1/23 Rybinsk Russia World Cup
1/24 Rybinsk Russia World Cup
2/6 Canmore Canada World Cup
2/17 Whistler Canada Olympics
2/21 Whistler Canada Olympics
2/28 Whistler Canada Olympics
3/6 Lahti Finland World Cup
3/7 Lahti Finland World Cup
3/11 Dramman Norway World Cup
3/14 Oslo Norway World Cup
3/17 Stockholm Sweden World Cup Final Tour
3/18 Falun Sweden World Cup Final Tour
3/19 Falun Sweden World Cup Final Tour
3/20 Falun Sweden World Cup Final Tour
3/24 Fort Kent Maine US Nationals
3/26 Fort Kent Maine US Nationals
3/27 Fort Kent Maine US SuperTour
3/28 Fort Kent Maine US SuperTour

The season's new racing armour.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

You Are Your Own Final Measure

When the time comes to hang up the racing skis, when my days are no longer driven by the constant pursuit of teasing performance out of talent and desire, when the arc of my career as a professional athlete has passed, I want to be proud that I took the time and seized the opportunity and had a lasting and meaningful impact on a group of America’s youth.

Today this means getting into Mr. Gottschalk's classroom at Miller Elementary in Bend, Oregon. Mentoring's most rewarding part comes in getting to know the kids in class at a personal level. In the classroom, I have a whole new crew of kids at a brand new school I'm getting to know.

In two weeks, having an impact on America's youth means keeping up correspondence with the kids while on the road in Europe as I chase World Cup wins and a place on the U.S Olympic Team. This spring this means getting back to my roots in Mr. Peck's 5th grade classroom, in my old hometown of Leavenworth, Washington.

I want to watch kids from Bend and Leavenworth to go beyond labels and excuses, to follow their passions and discover what they can do. To help instill the belief that every one of them has the ability to handle whatever the future throws at them, is what I'm after.

I want more kids to steal a pearl of wisdom from Joseph Campbell and follow their bliss. I want them to know that when you do this, you put yourself on a path that has been there cutting through the deep, dark woods all the time, just waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the very one you are living. I’ve had this feeling. I’ve lost this feeling. And also found it again.

When I get angry, discouraged or indifferent it helps to remember that I choose this path and their will be trials and tribulations along the way. Just as there were for Jesse Owens or Odysseus. This is all part of the adventure. Just days ago I ran into Dan Jansen, a titan of the speed skating's yesteryear. I remember the '88 Olympics, watching Dan slam into the boards, hands overhead, the look of abject loss vividly burned into my memory. I also remember watching the Olympic 1,000 meter final from Lillehammer, when Dan won his Olympic Gold. We chatted for a minute, he signed two pieces of paper, one to Mr.Peck's 5th grade class, another to Miller Elementary. He left me with these words, "Remember, You are the only one who knows if you have given everything you had. You are your own final measure." Words to live by. Thanks for the memories Dan, both young and old.

I want to do more than talk about change. I'm getting my hands dirty. I love the wide-eyed excitement I see in the classroom. I can't wait to get back in there Monday. The students of Miller Elementary are fortunate to have teachers like Mr. Gottschalk, just as I was fortunate to have a teacher like Mr. Peck.

I want to run in the mountains with my young runners this spring. I want to throw heavy objects with my throwers after the ski season. I want to pick wildflowers with fifth graders just as I want to pick the perfect word to describe the scene of my time with America’s youth.

I remember a coach telling me, "If you want it that badly, you'll find a way." I want to be that person in the community others look up to and say, “Torin wanted it that badly. He found a way. You can, too,” just as I want to be the coach that instills this same belief in his young troops. For this, as in all things in life, I will be the only one who really knows if I gave everything I had. I will be my final measure. I intend to succeed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eric Heiden's Playground

With the national team training camp in Lake Placid coming to a close, I finally took the opportunity to walk upon some hallowed ground. Like this concrete oval where Eric Heiden took speed skating into uncharted territory. In 1980, Heiden won every race, from 500 to 10,000 meters in convincing Olympic to World Record setting fashion.

While Michael Phelps might have more golds, all his races came in relays and different strokes from 100 to 200 meters in distance. The range in Heiden's accomplishment still very much stands as the undisputed golden standard of athletic greatness. At least that's my opinion.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


You either love every minute it ~ or you are expecting rain.

Water and waves. There's something so special about the ocean. You can head out into it with a certain attitude. You leave with another. This reminds me of the Mahatma's saying. "Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn."

The green hills of California. West of Hemingway, South of Steinbeck country.

But where will these tracks lead me? Like Odysseus. Out on an odyssey, headed, but not yet ready to head home. With 'no direction home.'

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Skiing and Skating

From SoHo to NorCo. That is, images from New Zealand to Whistler, British Columbia.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

physical poverty

Flew into a Canadian airport. Hopped a ride. Drove through the city. Passed a sign counting down the days. 168 until the opening of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. A Bob Roll written article titled "The Beautiful Therapy of Bike Racing" rests in my lap.

"When I was a young person, you could not reach me. You couldn't communicate with me, reason with me, drown me out with freezing rain or run me over with a train to keep me from riding. Everyday the miles I rode reduced me to ashes and dust but I was relentlessly reconstituted overnight by a seething, white-hot rage on slow boil...

"I began my riding career as a block of cement. I finished as a brand-new baby boy, all soft and gooey. I needed the miles, I needed the pain, I needed the ruin to become a more reasonable man."

168 more days of Bob Roll-esque chiseling. 168 more days to answer, "What will I do with my talent?" 168 days made up of specific moments where I'll be asked - if by nobody but myself - "What am I doing this moment to get better?" 168 days to come back back from adversity and shine, shine, shine.

I need the miles. I need a recommitment to cultivating a more robust mental outlook, where adversity is not a brake but an engine pushing me forward. I need to get to the point where I blush just reminiscing about the suffering and striving, the fitness building and the form-topping coming. I can do this. This better start... now. Time has a way of not putting itself in reverse.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Life on the 'Farm

In New Zealand, we live up atop the Pisa Mountain Range at the Waiorau Snow Farm. Now, I'm on my way back to the U.S.A. Before I lift off over the Pacific, here are a couple of the pictures from the last days here.

Kristina Strandberg striding it out with a background that makes me think of skiing on the moon.

Chris Klebl putting the kilometers in. It's cool to share the trails here with athletes who overcome unique challenges everytime they hit the cordoroy.

Chemical soon-to-be-nighttime Sky above the Southern Alps.

Ahh, nothing like an underpowered ten passenger van with bald tires on snowy, curvy dirt roads. Makes getting to town a bit of an adventure. Also makes learning how to put on chains a necessity.

I"m off. First to Southern California for a couple days in the Santa Ynez Valley sun, then back home to the Pacific Northwest...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

South Island in Pictures

(Photo by Justin Wadsworth).

Every year, for the last eight years, I've made a southern trek to New Zealand's South Island to find some time on the magic white stuff. The training load during my days here always tilts a bit to the side of volume. As a coach of mine use to say, "There's a certain quality to quantity."

(Photo by Justin Wadsworth).

Since I'm down in the country of Murray Halberg, Peter Snell and Co. it might be apt to steal a line, or at least paraphrase, a thought of Arthur Lydiard's - from distance work comes speed. Speed training has been far from a focus so far this season. Still, the speed over the snow feels good.

Run to the Top... Ski to the Top...

(Photo by Torin.)

Living above the treeline atop a mountain, weather moves in easily at the Wairaou SnowFarm. And sometimes with a nasty disposition. Other days, it's just beautiful. With a combination of snowfences and sunshine, this counts as one of the latter.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Putting the hours in on day job. 4 min double pole intervals followed by a long distance warmdown. Clear, cold weather and hard classic tracks a perk of the job somedays here on the South Island.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Short Summer Story

planned a trip
skiers in trusty subaru
salty water
surfboard rails soon in my grip

olympic day
could it be, a memory?
what'll I say
after the summer's all gone?

pacific city
imaginary white snow
along I roll
on highway one-oh-one

king of spade
consult with my chambermaid
says go forth
knows perfecting skills take work

breathe it in
sweet smell of life in full bloom
hebo awaits
nine mile hill climb time trial loom

cascade head
dragontail and ocean views
like one says,
"seek out and follow your muse"

new zealand
closes fast in frontview mirror
salt and sand,
any better way to say goodbye?

The End.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Carnaby Street

"It ain't the melodies that are important, man, it's the words," Bob Dylan once said. Out along the roads of Central Oregon, sometimes training alone, sometimes in the company of others, it's words and not melodies that rush through my mind. These mix and match, sometimes meshing, sometimes mashing - providing an image, matching a mood, to the moment.

Like the time high above pinyon and ponderosa Eddie told me to...
Rise Up, Find my direction magnetically.
Rise Up, Throw down my ace in the hole.

Or like the time Kim softly whispered the words to Bull in the Heather into my ear.

tell me that yr burning for me
tell me that you can't afford me
time to tell your r dirty story
time f'r turning over and over
time f'r turning four leaf clover

betting on the bull in the heather

Or that time Bobby sang that song to Woody:

'Bout a funny old world that's coming along.
Seems sick, and it's tired, it's hungry and it's torn
I looks like it's a dying and it's hardly been born

Arresting artwork stolen from Shepard Fairey's personal collection.

Or like the time cruising the back roads out to Jackson's Bay on the Western Coast of New Zealand's South Island when Jack let out his secret,

"You see, the whole world is out there, like an oyster for me to open. And the pearl is there, the pearl is there!"

Or like the time Dylan kept talking on and on in riddles about a friend of his. He not busy being born, Is busy dying.

Then he left, just like that. Only his final words hung around. If you see her, say hello.

These words kept will remind me, Eddie.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oregon Trail

Back in the day, heading off on the Oregon Trail might have been a two-thousand mile journey from the backwaters of the Missouri. Oregonian old-timers also might have taken the oxen-driven farm wagon instead of an air-conditioned, four wheel drive Toyota Tacoma but, still, I'd like to think there's semblance to the same adventure - a jumping off into great wide unknown. Washington will always be where I grew up; I can't imagine calling anywhere but Leavenworth my hometown. Later, Utah, the University, and the snowy Wasatch Mountains form an indelible part of my past. But it's the raw, burly backdrop of Bend, Oregon where I'm now home.

From the fertile Columbia River Valley, to the Cascade Mountains, the Goldendale scenescape you see here below, it's time to shake hands and say goodbye to Washington. In the distance, if you look closely, white windmills tilt to the sky. I hope Cervantes would be proud.

Grass Valley. Moro. Shaniko. All small towns I pass along the way, holding stories of commerce and community I can only guess at.

I round a corner. Just a stone's throw to the east rests the town of Terrebonne and the towering red spires - Smith Rock, the birthplace of U.S. sport climbing. Or so I'm told.

To the west, angry clouds collect above the Cascades. I try to remember the exact words the free-skier Doug Coombs said about listening to mountains. Something about tuning into and heeding what the mountains have to say today.

I arrive in Bend. My roommate Carl wrenches on his turbo-hopped rally car with the help of his dad. Mr. Dekker is not only a fossil-fuel fun seeker. He earns his wages riding mountain bikes for a living. He's not the only one in Bend that can seriously say this is their primary occupation.

The spelunker's view from inside a Central Oregon lava tube.

My playground. From left: Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister.

The US Ski Team getting together for a national team camp on the cross country trails of Mt. Bachelor. To the best of times. And those that will be. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Springtime Outside the Schoolyard

Just before heading off to Whistler in search of snow on the 2010 Olympic trails, I joined Mr. Peck's fifth grade class for another kind of search. We were on the lookout for wildflowers.

Chino and Kobe among the arrowleaf balsomroot.

Here my lil armada take in the view from the outrun of the K70 ski jump.

In time, identifying and drawing yellow bells and forget-me-nots were no match to the allure of boys hucking themselves off the jumps.

Here, Jaxon soars.

The girls were just a little more committed to the task at hand. Here, Kristin compiles the pertinent data from the chocolate lilies in bloom.

In all, the kids have to identify, draw, and write about at least fifty wildflowers.

From cultivating gardens and breeding quails in the fall, digging snow caves and learning about snow science in the winter, to frolicking in fields full of wildflowers in the spring, the fifth graders in Leavenworth experience a little science outside the domain of textbooks, lectures and classrooms.

Until the next time, -T