Cross-Country Talk: Andy Newell (USA)
FIS Cross-Country News caught up with USA's Andy Newell in Canmore during the annual Frozen Thunder. Don't miss what Andy Newell thinks about climate change, Winter Olympic Games and growth of Cross-Country Skiing in the USA.
FIS: You are currently in Canmore, Alberta Canmore for the annual "Frozen Thunder" event. Sounds like the weather has been quite warm. How is the snow holding up?
Andy Newell: The snow at the “Thunder” was great this year. Much warmer than in previous years but we got sunshine every day and the snow was setting up at night which made for some perfect early season skiing. Traveling to Canmore is always a fun smooth transition to snow for us and it's a great time of year to work on some speed and intervals while getting used to the snow skis again.
FIS: You have taken a lead role on the US Ski team in regards to bringing attention to climate change. Has this always been an interest for you or is it something that has grown out of chasing snow around the Northern Hemisphere for most of the last decade?
AN: Being an environmentalist is something I think I've grown into with my old age :). When I was a kid it really wasn't on my radar but as you travel for skiing as much as we do you get to see some of the most beautiful places in the world and often how they are affected by climate change. It's easy to take our planet for granted and even when we know we're not being environmentally responsible we tend to make excuses or pass the blame onto someone else. It's easy for everyone to make little changes in their lives to help green things up but where the changes really need to happen are on a federal and international levels. Here in the US I think we are better than most at recognizing climate change but incredibly bad at doing anything about it because of politics and that's what I'd really like to see change and why I'm a big fan of 350.org.
FIS: Could you share with us some of the work you have done to help bring more attention to the issue of Climate Change?
AN: Athletes for Action is a campaign that I helped start this summer and is something that will grow as we get closer to the season and closer to the Olympics. Athletesforaction.com should be up and running in a few weeks and it will be a place where athletes from all over the world can come to sign a letter urging their governments to take action against climate change. Olympic years are special because it's one of the few times that the entire winter sports community can come together and this is a simple way to make a big impact.
FIS: Speaking of the Olympics. The 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia will be your third. Does the "big show" still hold the same exciting for you as your first games did in Torino, Italy?
AN: The 'big show' definitely holds a different level of excitement and I'm stoked to be gearing up for my 3rd Olympics. Torino was an eye opener for me since I was very young and inexperienced on the world cup at that time. In Vancouver felt like I was in Medal shape but crashed out of the sprint during qualification, so this year I'm looking to redeam myself. I don't feel too much pressure because the US has such a strong team now with Kikkan, Jessie, Liz, and all the girls and the men are also much stronger than we ever have been leading into an Olympic year. So even with just 1 medal for the team it will be a huge success, but we want more than just one.
FIS: You have been a force on the World Cup as a sprinter for many seasons. You have found the World Cup podium in both freestyle and classical sprint competitions. Do you have a favourite technique?
AN: I am split down the middle when it comes to sprinting. I like both techniques. One of my favorite things about our sport is how every sprint is different, some have big hills, some are in cities, they vary in length, and we have different techniques. Some people find this frustrating but I think it keeps it fun and exciting as an athlete. I like preparing for a sprint in the days leading up for the race and thinking about what type of technique to use, thinking about double poling or striding. In order to win a sprint race you need to be ready for anything and that for me is fun.
FIS: As mentioned above Sochi will be your third Olympics. Are you looking past Sochi? Might we see you in South Korea in 2018?
AN: I haven't thought too much about it other than I know I will be skiing for a while longer, possibly through 2018. One of the coolest things about cross country skiing is that our lives don't revolve around one race every 4 years like in other sports. I'm grateful to FIS that we have such an intense World Cup season each year and we have things like the Tour de Ski and World Championships to focus on in addition to the Olympics. I will be 30 years old this year which is funny because at one time I think I was the youngest on the World Cup, but I think I still have a lot of years ahead of me to get better and ski faster. Skiing is a lifestyle for me and it's not something that revolves around Olympic years and I'm happy for that. And I don't want a real job... I have my whole life to try to be a musician.
FIS: I want to ask about the "Speed Camp" event this summer. Was it modeled off of Fast and Female?
AN: Skiing is growing steadily here in the US and we are fired up about that on the US Ski team. People are starting to take notice, which is something that hasn't always been the case. It's always been one of my goals to get more kids involved in the sport here in the US and it appears to be working. The idea with “speed camp” was to give some of these young skiers a chance to take the next step with their technique. Speed camps are designed to give the kids a place to practice super fast skiing, sprinting, and technical activities that their every day coaches can't provide and to learn from the US Ski team men. The Fast and Female events have been hugely successfully here in the US so we wanted to come up with a fun day for the boys as well. I just came up with the idea to give it a rock and roll heavy metal type theme! I think we will have many more speed camps in the future, including in Alaska this spring so keep a look out for that.