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Patterson Hangs Up His Skis - Officially Announcing His Retirement from World Cup Ski Racing

Apr 11, 2024·Cross-Country
Scott Patterson racing in his final World Cup in Falun, Sweden, where he went on to get 15th place in the 20k skate mass start. (NordicFocus)
Scott Patterson racing in his final World Cup in Falun, Sweden, where he went on to get 15th place in the 20k skate mass start. (NordicFocus)

This article was first posted on the website.

Scott Patterson, an Alaskan native, of the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team, has officially announced his retirement from World Cup ski racing, following a successful career, including two Winter Olympic Games, three World Championship teams, and 116 World Cup starts.

Patterson grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and first made the team seven years ago – in 2018 – making his World Cup debut in Nova Mesto, Czech Republic. Patterson does it all – he’s a professional ski racer, professional mechanical engineer, and one of the most dominant distance skiers the Stifel U.S. Ski Team has ever seen.

“Scott has been the linchpin of the American men’s distance team for the last two Olympic cycles,” said Chris Grover, Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team program director.

“He’s been the guy we look to in a Championship 30k or 50k, and he has consistently delivered. Scott’s ability to build momentum in fitness and performance through the season and be healthy and ready to deliver results at the big races has always been impressive. Beyond the performances, Scott has been a model of quiet leadership on the team, demonstrating daily his professionalism and determined approach to training, recovery, and balancing athletics with a career. Scott is a great athlete and an incredible human being. Although he will be sorely missed on the World Cup tour, something tells me we’ll still be getting passed by him regularly on the mountain trails and the ski tracks.”Chris Grover, Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team program director.

Looking back at Patterson’s career, you’d see 116 World Cup starts, two Winter Olympic Games, two World Championships, two degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics, and a whole lot of life experience. He’s had 12 SuperTour victories, six U.S. National Championships titles, four top 10s at three different World Championships, 11 top 10s in the World Cup, and was part of the mixed relay team that brought home the first mixed relay victory in history back in 2022. Onto the Winter Olympic Games, where the stage could not be higher, he took home two top 10 results at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, marking the best U.S. men’s cross-country result in over 50 years. Though Patterson may be quiet and not boast his achievements, his presence on the team over the years and the success and pride he has brought to the Stifel U.S. Ski Team are remarkable.

Outside of the results, Patterson made an impact on this team because of the person he is. Injuries, illness - he always made it to the other side with composure and compassion. He was always the one who knew every single trail the team could run, the ski tracks outside of the venue - you wanted an adventure in a small European town? You’d ask Scott. He found balance in a lifestyle where balance is often difficult to find. 

“Scott is retiring having been one of the best American distance skiers we’ve ever had,” said Kristen Bourne, Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team D team coach.

“Not only has he had success at the highest level of the sport, but he’s also been a pivotal role model for the athletes on the team. Scott is one of the most determined and diligent people I’ve ever met. He will be the guy who finishes a 50k race and almost always wishes it were longer. He loves the grind and the hard challenges that come with it. We’re going to miss having Scott on the road, but we know his success outside of skiing has already started and will continue for many years to come.”Kristen Bourne, Stifel U.S Cross Country Ski Team D team Couch

Patterson shared his reflections in a Q&A about how he views his career, things he learned and what's next. 

Q: What are you most proud of?

Scott: Some results stand out over my career, but looking back, there are also trends that define my ski career. I’m proud of the resilience that I displayed through several tough years of injury and illness, returning stronger than I was before. I’m proud of my training progressing through the years with continued result improvement and some of the most successful peak performances of any US athlete for the championship events. Through all this, I’m also proud of the balanced lifestyle I maintained, finding success on the World Cup while also developing as an engineer, getting my professional engineering license, and enjoying adventures in Alaska.

Q: What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself after racing at the sport’s highest level?

Scott: Over my career of racing on the World Cup, there has been a lot of time to see what is important to me. It’s also been a lesson in making the most of very different situations. The summer training period and four months on the road in Europe pose very different challenges to minimizing stress or staying engaged. I’ve learned that finding little adventures in daily life, challenging myself in new ways, and having some sort of intellectual stimulation are all very important. I’ve also learned many things that I don’t need and will try to avoid, but those can stay unnamed.

Q: What is one thing that you will miss the most?

Scott: One of the great things that ski racing has provided is a directed purpose towards a singular event. In training, there are clear goals, and races to be focused on, and so much lead up to being at one’s very best at a particular time on a particular day. That doesn’t just apply to me as an athlete, but the whole support team. There are opportunities for this in other aspects of life, but skiing has provided such a clear example that I will miss.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you’d like to leave for your teammates and all athletes coming up the pipeline?

Scott: One of the key things that has defined my career is balancing other activities. Ever since college, I have been working an engineering job. This balance significantly extended the longevity of my ski racing career and made it feel that I was being productive outside of just ski racing. My advice to teammates or all athletes would be to find your own balance. It doesn’t have to be engineering, but having something else in daily life that challenges and stimulates oneself is so important. This makes the days when results are coming or training seems to be going poorly easier to bear. Sport is important, but don’t let sport and success in sport fully define who you are.

Q: What was your favorite activity on the road outside of racing?

Scott: Outside of racing, my favorite activity on the road was finding little ways to fit some adventure into or between training sessions. Many times this would just be slight exploratory runs around a new road or an occasional sledding trip, but the adventure skis stand out. I’d generally try to ski all the Nordic trails in the area or even venture beyond. A memorable adventure ski was in 2021 in Davos while we were preparing for the World Championships. A group of us ran partway up one of the alpine mountains and found an easy run to ski several thousand feet down into a different town where we had a van pickup. The combined absurdity of running.

We want to thank you Scott for the time in the World Cup, and hope that you will still keep on inspiring people, either it is to go skiing or if it is other adventures.

This article was first posted on the website.

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