Middlebury skier Erik Arvidsson is ready to shift gears from college racing and get back into speed. Finishing fourth and sixth in the super G and downhill at alpine nationals this week, Arvidsson’s objective is to make it back to the U.S. Ski Team and ultimately to the World Cup — in speed.
In 2016, Arvidsson won the junior world championship downhill at Sochi. Formally a member of the U.S. Ski Team, Arvidsson said goodbye to the national team when he started his NCAA racing career at Middlebury College in 2017. Arvidsson hoped to accomplish one of his biggest goals in ski racing: win an NCAA national title.
Going into his senior year, Arvidsson planned to capitalize on a home-hill advantage with NCAA championships planned at Middlebury in 2021. The Middlebury team was on a huge upswing and had good momentum going into the season, and Arvidsson felt they would be able to compete for a title championship. When Middlebury’s college racing season was canceled and senior classes became available online, Arvidsson’s focus this season shifted to speed comeback.
“I have been thinking about coming back to speed skiing for a while,” said Arvidsson. “This being my senior year, I am looking to get a jump start on that.”
Arvidsson remained close with his former coach and current head men’s speed coach, Randy Pelkey, as well as alpine director Jesse Hunt. He reached out to Pelkey earlier this year and laid out his plans for returning to the men’s speed team. Pekley and Hunt worked together and organized a plan for Arvidsson to join the men’s speed team at Copper just last week.
“I’ve been training with the World Cup speed team in Copper for a week now and can hopefully stay on with them to train in Europe over the next month,” said Arvidsson. “It’s hard to make it in speed on your own, training opportunities are really hard to come by. It’s a huge advantage to be with this group, and I have been so lucky that Jesse and Randy let me join for the last week, and maybe for a few more weeks, too.”
At Copper this week, Arvidsson’s downhill finish will score the points needed to race in World Cup downhills, but he’s looking to take his time during this unusual season. Arvidsson will first focus on Europa Cups and World Cup training runs to get him the volume and confidence racing speed again.
“While it went okay the last few days, there is a lot of stuff I have to work through, a lot of skills I have to wake up again to really compete in the World Cup,” said Arvidsson. “I am trying to take it slow and look at what the next five, six, years look like as a speed skier.”
Arvidsson now must play catchup and prioritize super G and downhill skiing after taking the last few years off from speed skiing. While he will focus on the two speed events this year, he plans to keep up his slalom skiing for the alpine combined. He believes that his college ski career has advanced his technical skills and have made him a better skier in all events.
College skiing was a particularly impactful experience for Arvidsson. The team focus gave him a second wind and new love for the sport while also taught him balance in life. When Arvidsson had a bad day but brought points to his program, he wasn’t just concerned about his individual results but was excited for his team and his fellow teammates’ success.
While balancing school, Arvidsson looked forward to skiing as the best part of his day and enjoyed every moment on the hill — as opposed to skiing full time, when it was just the daily grind. At the college level, skiing was a sense of freedom that taught him how to shift his focus between school work and competition.
“College has been awesome,” said Arvidsson. “It’s been an amazing growing experience for me as a person, and I’ve also learned so much about ski racing, competing, and getting the most out of myself in the college environment. I have so many reasons to thank college skiing and the Middlebury ski team, I can’t even put it into words.”
For now, Arvidsson will be working closely on his speed fundamentals to get him back in World Cup form. Aerodynamics have not been a huge part of his college career and he must get comfortable in his tuck again. He also is working on course inspection and getting a feel for his line, plus perfecting his time in the air. By lowering his points and competing with the men’s speed team in training, his ultimate goal is to ski World Cups by the end of the year.
“Hopefully I can join the speed guys next year full time,” said Arvidsson. “That’s the goal, to get more reps and to get on with the guys next year.”
Arvidsson plans to round out the final week of November training in Copper with the men’s speed team before heading to Europe for the foreseeable future.