Brian McLaughlin is heading into an unpredictable 2020-21 season with a new perspective after being cut from the U.S. Ski Team in the spring. Determined to keep pushing forward, the Dartmouth alum has turned to Global Racing, a European-based independent race team, with the goal of progressing his skiing and getting back on the World Cup.
After officially being named to the U.S. Team for the 2019-20 season, McLaughlin was looking forward to making big changes in his skiing.
“I was having a lot of issues with my right footed turns,” said McLaughlin. “For whatever reason I couldn’t shift my weight that well on the right foot so I was coming inside on my right footed turn and that was causing a lot of problems, I wasn’t as powerful on that side and I couldn’t keep the line I was trying to ski. I was trying a lot of different cues to get that to work the right way and it just didn’t come together the way I hoped.”
McLaughin went into last season without full confidence in his skiing, he said, and was not able to execute on race day the way that he planned. Without race results, and a hurt knee and broken collarbone that ended his season, McLaughlin lacked the criteria to remain on the U.S Team.
“They are a professional sports team and they need to make the decisions that are best for them,” said McLaughlin. “Now I need to do it the best I can independently.”
The first thing on his agenda was to figure out all the logistics: What team would he join? How would he secure training? Who would be his technician? These are just some of the most basic questions McLaughlin needed to answer as he transitioned into independent racing. While getting a European visa and rapid COVID-19 testing was a challenge as an individual athlete, McLaughlin was ultimately aided by Global Racing, an independent race team in Europe founded by American Paul Epstein. He’s been training with the team ever since.
“There were a lot of variables when trying to figure out my own thing,” said McLaughlin. “Figuring out cars and a place to live in Europe are just those things I have never had to do before, but it’s made it a holistic thing for me.”
McLaughlin had three priorities when joining a team this season: a fast group of GS-focused guys, good training, and excellent coaching. It was a no brainer for him to join Epstein and his team at Global Racing. McLaughlin has known Epstein since his time at GMVS. While the two never worked directly together, McLaughlin had experienced his coaching indirectly. He knew Esptein’s track record with Global Racing, which is known to achieve the best World Cup results of any private team and also secures excellent training space in Europe.
After getting completely back to health, McLaughlin traveled to Europe to begin on snow training. Global Racing spends four days on snow followed by four days off. McLaughlin feels confident he has solved most of his technical issues in the prep period and can now push for speed on race day rather than thinking about his technical skiing, he says.
In his days off snow, McLaughlin is staying fit by scheduling lift, cardio, and core sessions. Unlike his previous years, with two weeks on-snow training followed by two weeks off, he feels the more consistent schedule will benefit his fitness throughout the season.
“I took a step back last year,” said McLaughlin. “I would like to show my speed, get second runs, and move up. I just have to do what I know I can do … I just want to get back there and ski fast.”
Last season McLaughlin competed in one too many races to get injured status. Without scoring second runs, McLaughlin’s world ranking went from 35 to 210, making him ineligible for World Cup starts. His first focus is to score points that would move his world ranking into the top 150, making him then eligible to compete for a World Cup start.
McLaughlin will be jumping into FIS, Europa Cup, and hopefully World Cup GS races. While it’s easy for him to say that World Cup racing is just another race, he feels prepared after his NCAA college races where there was inherently a lot of pressure on him.
Brian is still actively fundraising to support his independent season. If you are interested in learning more, contact Brian here.