Q&A with U.S. cross-country racer Andy Newell
BEING ON THE WORLD CUP PODIUM this season wasn’t the only cool thing that happened to cross-country sprinter Andy Newell. He enjoyed watching teammate Kikkan Randall take first place in Russia to become the first U.S. woman to win a World Cup cross-country race. Ski Racing caught up with Newell at Alta Ski Area where he was taking some turns with a few U.S. Ski Teamers including ski jumper Jessica Jerome (tune in for an online profile on Jerome this week). Those two just got back from a quick R&R in Central America where they went surfing, a pastime of Newell's. But there’s not much off-season for this hard-working Vermonter, who gets right back into training mode when he leaves for a Whistler camp on April 30.
Ski Racing: What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this season?
Andy Newell: Probably two things are equally exciting. One was watching Kikkan Randall win the first ever World Cup for a U.S. cross-country skiing girl. That was pretty sweet. I was in the B final, on the start line and about to start the final. I ended up seventh that day. We were in Russia. I was on the start line just as she was coming across the finish line to win. Also, just picking up my second career podium, finishing in second place. It was my best finish so far. I’ve been third in a World Cup, so second is one notch up I guess. I just have one more step to go to be on top and then I’ll be happy.
SR: So what does it take to get there?
AN: There are so many crazy training techniques that people try in cross-country skiing. It’s almost like a little puzzle that each athlete and their coach need to figure out and piece together. Some of the things that people do is almost insane — what you have to do to make it to the top, like training 900 hours in a year. Cross-country skiing is such a technically demanding sport that you have to have all your movements down and the strength to ski a specific way with strong, powerful technique but you also have to have the fitness to make it through the race, especially in sprint racing to make it through all the rounds. So you have to train a ton of hours. It’s a weird balance between spending a lot of time working on technique but you also have to spend a lot of time working on your fitness.
SR: What’s your plan for the summer?
AN: We have a bunch of camps. We have two camps in Whistler on the Olympic trails, so we’re already starting to memorize the venue. The first one is in a week. They have so much snow so we’ll be skiing, but they also have roller skiing loops there. So we’ll be roller skiing on the Olympic trails during the middle of the summer. We’ll do our annual trip to New Zealand on snow in August. Other than that, we’ll be stepping it up a notch from last year, training a lot more hours and training a lot more hard intervals.
SR: How will new USSA nordic director John Farra affect your training/competing?
AN: He won’t affect our day-to-day operations as an athlete since we’ll still be working with our same coach. It’s going to be good to have a new nordic director. Luke Bodensteiner did a great job, the old nordic director, but John Farra has a cross-country skiing background and I know him from back when I was a young buck and he was at the end of his career. We used to race each other in the sprints and battle a little bit. I think he’ll be great. He’s a really organized guy and will be good for USSA.
SR: Will you be training in Park City much this summer?
AN: We’re working on training high, and living at higher altitudes, so I may spend some more time in Park City than I have in the past — so living high and training low. And skateboarding is great in Park City so I’ve got to be there.
SR: So skateboarding, does that help with training?
AN: It definitely helps my balance, but I wreck myself pretty good sometimes doing it so that’s not good. It’s good to have something like that that is good physically for you and a healthy activity but it’s not training. When you’re skating it’s not like you’re thinking about training but it’s also good for you at the same time.
SR: What else do you like doing in your downtime?
AN: Surf when we can. We’ll find some waves. You can go to New Hampshire, and we can be on the coast in 2:15, two and a half hours so if there is a swell we’ll go and surf in the cold-ass water.
For more on Newell, check out andrewnewell.com . He’s also a killer freestyle cross-country skier, which means he hucks tricks on XC skis — and that’s sweet. Check it out at xskifilms.com .