The word of the day: CONSISTENTLY!
What allows athletes to become elite–to excel at their sport–to rise to the top? Among the many factors, success and consistency stand out. That is that they find a road to success and CONSISTENTLY follow that path. What does that mean?
Path to Olympic Gold
Consistency leads to success.
Barbara Ann and her victory at the 1972 Sapporo, Japan Olympics after years of consistently having fun!
Let me share my path to Olympic gold. I started skiing when I was about three years old. It was something our family did together. Dad was coaching the high school ski team at the time, so every weekend, we piled into the family car and drove to Mt. Ascutney in Brownsville, Vermont, and skied CONSISTENTLY throughout the winter. That, by itself, didn’t guarantee an Olympic gold medal in my future, but it began the foundation.
The next consistent concept was that skiing was fun! In the beginning, it was just played. It was fun. I enjoyed skiing with other kids. It was fun being outside, feeling the cold, fresh air on my cheeks, challenging myself to go faster, to ski from top to bottom in complete control, to race in the Lollipop Races. Above all, skiing was CONSISTENTLY fun!
By the time I was nine, we had moved to northern Vermont and started skiing and racing out of Smuggler’s Notch. Dad was instrumental in organizing the Northern Vermont Council, which meant my races included competitors from other ski clubs. During the winter, I CONSISTENTLY competed against racers from northern Vermont.
Beginning to Train Consistently
By this time, Dad also realized that just ski and train on the weekends was not enough. He wanted to buy property in the country with a hill facing northwest (to retain snow) to build a rope-tow in the backyard. He wanted my siblings and me to train CONSISTENTLY during the week, rather than just on the weekends. He also put lights on the back of the house, and a couple of light poles on the hill since daylight in Vermont in the winter was limited to about 5 pm. By the time I was 11, we had begun training CONSISTENTLY Tuesday and Thursday nights with friends from all the nearby clubs.
At the age of 13, Dad introduced a conditioning program. My brother, two sisters, and I did calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, ankle lifts, knee-bends), isometrics, cardiovascular exercises (running, swimming, biking, soccer, hiking), and stretches. Our goal was to work out for two days and then take the 3rd day off (to allow our muscles to heal) CONSISTENTLY week after week, month after month.
Hopeful and U.S. Ski Team Bound
By the time I was 15, I had made the Eastern team for Junior Nationals, held in Winter Park, Colorado. I won the giant slalom, which qualified me for a new U.S. Ski Team program called the “Hopefuls.” This meant I was now invited to the U.S. Ski Team camps. That summer, I attended my first summer ski camp. From that point on, I CONSISTENTLY trained on snow in the off-season, as well.
The next year, I made the “A” team and joined the U.S. Ski Team’s regimen. After the season ended in April, U.S. Ski Team athletes worked out at home on their own until June when we met at an on-snow training camp somewhere out West (Mt. Hood, Bend, Mammoth) where we skied in the morning and did dry-land conditioning in the afternoon. At the end of July or early August, we flew to Chile or Argentina (which was their winter) to train for about three weeks. Our season then started around Thanksgiving with another training camp to get ready for the first World Cup races in Val d’Isere, France, the first weekend in December. The U.S. Ski Team’s goal was always to prepare CONSISTENTLY to become the best in the world. I won my gold medal when I was 21. It took me years of CONSISTENTLY skiing, conditioning, training, and having fun to build a foundation to get there!