What Mental Training is Really All About

I get several phone calls and emails a week from parents of racers who tell me that their young racer is struggling and it seems to be “mental.” I then ask for more details about what kinds of specific difficulties their kids are having and they usually have a tough time explaining further. The most common response is: “They train great, but don’t compete well.” But the parents can’t usually provide any more useful information.

Additionally, when I ask them what they know about sport psychology or mental training, they typically say, “Not much.” Yet, when I ask racers, coaches, and parents how important the mental side of ski racing is compared to the physical and technical aspects, a few say not as important, many say as important, and almost as many say more important. Though, given what I do for a living, I really appreciate the latter sentiment, even I don’t think the mind is more important because racers can have all of the mental stuff in the world, but if they’re not physically and technically capable of getting down the hill, the mental side doesn’t matter. But don’t get me wrong, it is an essential piece of the athletic success puzzle. I then ask how much time racers devote to their mental preparation and they usually look sheepish and respond always little or no time.

Despite its obvious importance, the mental side of ski racing is most often neglected, at least until a problem arises. The ski racing world seems to hold mental training to a different standard than the physical and technical aspects of our sport. Many people have the impression that mental training can produce miraculous results in a short time. You wouldn’t believe the number of calls I get from parents a week before a U16 Nationals or U14 Championships! Though I consider myself very good at what I do, I am definitely not a magician. You wouldn’t expect increases in strength by lifting weights once or twice or an improvement in technique by working on it for an hour. Why would the ski racing world expect such unrealistic goals from mental training?

The mistake that racers, coaches, and parents make is that they don’t treat the mind the way they treat the physical and technical aspects of our sport. Racers don’t wait to get injured before they do physical conditioning. They don’t develop a technical flaw before they work on their technique. Rather, racers do physical and technical training to prevent problems from arising. They should approach the mind in the same way.

What makes the physical and on-snow training programs that racers are on effective? Well, they are:

  • Comprehensive
  • Structured
  • Consistent
  • Periodized
  • Personalized

The only way to improve any area of ski racing performance, whether physical, technical, or mental, is through commitment, hard work, and patience. I can say with confidence that if racers make the same commitment to their mental training as they do to their physical and technical training, it can play a key role in helping them achieve their goals.

So, to help the ski racing world understand what mental training has to offer and to explain precisely what I do, I thought it would be helpful to describe my work with racers, so everyone in the ski racing community can consider mental training in its proper context and, as a result, maximize its benefits.

Prime Performance System

Let me begin by saying that there are many sport psychology consultants and mental coaches out there, some of whom work with racers, with varying degrees of education, training, and experience. Though I know most of the best ones around the U.S. personally or by reputation, I don’t know what they do or how they work. All I can tell you is how I work with racers.

My mental training with racers relies on my Prime Performance System, a truly unique and comprehensive framework for mental training that I have developed over my decades of work with top junior, collegiate, Olympic racers. It’s comprised of five essential mental- and performance-related areas:

  • Five attitudes (ownership, process, challenge, long-term, risk) enable racers to look at performance, competition, success, and failure in the healthiest way possible. By adopting these attitudes, racers lay the foundation to pursue their athletic and life goals from a healthy starting point.
  • Five obstacles (over-investment, perfectionism, fear of failure, expectations, emotions) are often erected without racers’ awareness as they develop as athletically and personally. These obstacles sabotage their efforts and performances. My goal is to remove these obstacles so racers can attain a psychological and emotional state that liberates them to pursue their goals with commitment, confidence, and abandon.
  • Five keys to training (perspective, train like you race, consistency, experiment, quality) ensure the highest quality and maximum benefit from training off- and on-snow. The culmination of these approaches involves racers getting the most out of their training efforts enabling them to progress as fast as possible toward their athletic goals.
  • Five mental “muscles” (motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, and mind state) are essential for racers to ski their fastest. If racers can develop these muscles, they give themselves the means to enter races totally prepared to ski at their highest level possible.
  • Five mental exercises and tools (goal-setting, self-talk, breathing, imagery, routines) provide racers with the practical strategies they need to ensure they are comprehensively prepared to ski their fastest when it counts the most. They are aimed at attaining and maintaining an optimal mental and physical state required to achieve success.

How I Work

The first time I meet with a racer, I administer my Mental Assessment of Performance (think of it as “physical testing for the mind”), an evaluation of around 15 essential mental areas drawn from my Prime Performance System. The MAP serves several purposes. First, the racers get to understand the key mental areas that impact their ski racing efforts. Second, both they and I see where they are in relation to the mental areas. Third, the results of the MAP guide the planning and implementation of a personalized mental training program. The racer and I collaborate to determine which mental areas should be addressed first.

Proper mental training can help you overcome setbacks like injuries. Sofia Goggia sat out several seasons with injury before winning Olympic gold. Image Credit: GEPA Pictures/Daniel Goetzhaber

ARE,SWEDEN,15.MAR.18 – ALPINE SKIING – FIS World Cup Final, Super G, ladies. Image shows Sofia Goggia (ITA). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Daniel Goetzhaber[/caption]

If the primary focus of our work is on strengthening racers’ mental muscles and teaching them mental exercises and tools, I will, in my office, describe why they’re important, how they impact athletic performance, and where the racer is in relation to them. I’ll also show racers how to use them both away from and in their on-snow training. The single most important mental tools I teach racers are mental imagery and routines.

Then, if the opportunity arises, I then work with racers in on-snow and show them how to use the mental exercises and tools while they are actually free skiing and running gates. I have found that this “real time” experience with mental training enables racers to ask questions, experiment, get feedback from me and their coach, and see the direct connection between doing mental training, being more mentally prepared, and, most importantly, skiing better. I also demonstrate the Training component of my Prime Performance System to show them how to maximize the value of their training efforts. If racers get that connection between doing mental training and seeing improvement, I know that I will get buy in from them. My goal with this work, both in my office and on-snow, is to strengthen racers’ mental muscles and give them a “toolbox” of mental tools they can use so that they can gain the most benefit from their training and be maximally prepared to ski their fastest in races.

If my work focuses on the deeper issues of attitudes and obstacles from my Prime Performance System, for example, habitual negativity, perfectionism, and fear of failure, I help racers understand why these obstacles interfere with their racing efforts, how they developed, and provide insights and tools to remove the obstacles and allow racers to continue on the path toward their goals. This work occurs generally in an office setting. Exploring attitudes and obstacles is a slower and less certain aspect of mental training because changing deeply ingrained ways of thinking can be difficult. At the same time, when racers are able to let go of their “baggage,” they are liberated to race free from doubt, worry, and fear.

I also want to note that if I recognize that these obstacles are grounded in more serious psychological issues (e.g., depression, anxiety), I will make a referral to an appropriately trained mental health professional (I don’t do clinical work) and may or may not continue to work with the racer depending the how those issues impact the pursuit of their goals.

Getting Results

I’m often asked how quickly racers can expect results from a commitment to mental training. Positive change varies widely depending on the individual racers and the issues that are presented. For example, issues related to strengthening mental muscles and gaining mental tools training, such as increasing confidence and improving focus, can be improved relatively quickly. I have found that racers can expect to see improvements in their mental muscles and related race performance within six to eight weeks, if not sooner. In contrast, issues related to the obstacles I described above, such as perfectionism and fear of failure, take more time. Racers can expect to see positive changes in these deeper issues within three to six months.

Admittedly, mental training doesn’t always work as intended. The fact is that the sport of ski racing is complex, unpredictable, and, in many ways, uncontrollable. Many factors, both within and outside of ski racing, can impact performance and lead to or prevent success, including physical, technique and tactics, equipment, coaches and teammates, and, of course, mental, as well as family life and school. Just as with the other contributors to athletic performance, there are no guarantees that mental training will result in improved performance and results during the course of my work with racers. In some cases, improvement is immediate and startling. In other cases, racers show steady improvement in the months and years during and following the conclusion of our work as they continue to apply what they learn from our work. And, on rare occasions, racers’ work with me doesn’t translate into improved results at all.

My Goals

I can’t guarantee that my work with racers will result in accomplishing their ski racing goals. At the same time, there are perhaps more important goals that I am confident that I can achieve with them:

  • Increase their awareness and understanding of ‘what makes them tick’ as racers and people.
  • Provide information and insights that will instill in racers healthy attitudes toward competition, success, failure, and the role that ski racing and achievement play in their lives.
  • Identify and mitigate obstacles (e.g., fear of failure, risk aversion) that may be holding them back from their ski racing and life goals.
  • Strengthen their mental “muscles” to enable them to be mentally prepared to ski their fastest in races and other aspects of their lives.
  • Provide racers with a mental toolbox they can use in their ski racing and lives.
  • Do everything I can to help racers to fully realize their abilities and achieve their ski racing goals.
  • Instill all of the above to not only assist racers in their ski racing lives, but also to help them to find success and happiness in their future educations, relationships, and careers, and lives.

So there you have it; what mental training means to me and what I do in my work with ski racers. I hope this article takes some of the mystery out of mental training and helps readers to better understand what it can and cannot do, and how it can help racers, whether juniors, college racers, and Olympians, to achieve their goals.

Want to take a big step in your mental training? Take a look at my online mental training courses for ski racing and other ski racing. 

BREAKING: Marcel Hirscher Takes Men’s Slalom in Levi

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher picked up where he left off last year, taking another slalom win to open the 2018-19 men’s World Cup season. Hirscher also became the first man to win three times in Levi, adding to his wins in 2013 and 2016.

Norway’s Henrik Kristofferson claimed second place, a slim 0.09 seconds shy of taking the win home for himself and setting the stage for yet another titanic battle for the World Cup slalom globe. Sweden’s PyeongChang 2018 slalom gold medalist, Andre Myhrer, rounded out the podium in third, 1.41 seconds back.

Stay tuned for full race coverage.


Top 10

  1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT): 1:51.04
  2. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR): +0.09
  3. Andre Myhrer (SWE): +1.41
  4. Ramon Zenhaeusern (SUI): +1.45
  5. Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA): +1.56
  6. Daniel Yule (SUI): +1.57
  7. Michael Matt (AUT): +1.58
  8. Christian Hirschbuehl (AUT): +1.66
  9. Manuel Feller (AUT): +1.70
  10. Marco Schwarz (AUT): +1.73

BREAKING: Marcel Hirscher Takes Men’s Slalom in Levi

Austria’s Marcel Hirscher picked up where he left off last year, taking another slalom win to open the 2018-19 men’s World Cup season. Hirscher also became the first man to win three times in Levi, adding to his wins in 2013 and 2016.

Norway’s Henrik Kristofferson claimed second place, a slim 0.09 seconds shy of taking the win home for himself and setting the stage for yet another titanic battle for the World Cup slalom globe. Sweden’s PyeongChang 2018 slalom gold medalist, Andre Myhrer, rounded out the podium in third, 1.41 seconds back.

Stay tuned for full race coverage.


Top 10

  1. Marcel Hirscher (AUT): 1:51.04
  2. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR): +0.09
  3. Andre Myhrer (SWE): +1.41
  4. Ramon Zenhaeusern (SUI): +1.45
  5. Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA): +1.56
  6. Daniel Yule (SUI): +1.57
  7. Michael Matt (AUT): +1.58
  8. Christian Hirschbuehl (AUT): +1.66
  9. Manuel Feller (AUT): +1.70
  10. Marco Schwarz (AUT): +1.73

BREAKING: Mikaela Shiffrin wins the Ladies Slalom in Levi

The course held up despite warm weather conditions in Levi on Saturday, and so did Mikaela Shiffrin, who hung on to her lead from the first run to take home her third win in Levi. Her win ties the record held by Maria Hölf-Riesch for the most women’s slalom wins recorded at the venue.

Last year’s champion, Petra Vlhová of Slovakia improved on her second run to secure a second place podium, as did Bernadette Schild of Austria, who moved up 9 places to earn a third place spot on the podium.

Stay tuned for full race coverage.


Top 10

1. (1) SHIFFRIN Mikaela (USA)
Diff Rank
Run 1
45.06
-0.14
1
Inter 1
1:00.18
-0.34
1
Inter 2
1:20.04
-0.48
1
Run 2
47.55
+0.64
5
Finish
1:32.61
-0.58
1

2. (6) VLHOVA Petra (SVK)
Diff Rank
Run 1
45.65
+0.59
3
Inter 1
1:00.68
+0.50
3
Inter 2
1:20.70
+0.66
3
Run 2
47.54
+0.63
4
Finish
1:33.19
+0.58
2
3. (5) SCHILD Bernadette (AUT)
Diff Rank
Run 1
46.49
+1.43
12
Inter 1
1:01.79
+1.61
10
Inter 2
1:21.12
+1.08
6
Run 2
46.91
-0.33
1
Finish
1:33.40
+0.79
3

4. (3) HANSDOTTER Frida (SWE)
Diff Rank
Run 1
45.20
+0.14
2
Inter 1
1:00.52
+0.34
2
Inter 2
1:20.52
+0.48
2
Run 2
48.22
+1.31
12
Finish
1:33.42
+0.81
4
5. (2) HOLDENER Wendy (SUI)
Diff Rank
Run 1
45.76
+0.70
5
Inter 1
1:00.84
+0.66
4
Inter 2
1:20.71
+0.67
4
Run 2
47.70
+0.79
6
Finish
1:33.46
+0.85
5
6. (4) SWENN LARSSON Anna (SWE)
Diff Rank
Run 1
45.99
+0.93
6
Inter 1
1:00.95
+0.77
6
Inter 2
1:20.97
+0.93
5
Run 2
47.51
+0.60
3
Finish
1:33.50
+0.89
6
7. (7) GALLHUBER Katharina (AUT)
Diff Rank
Run 1
45.69
+0.63
4
Inter 1
1:00.88
+0.70
5
Inter 2
1:21.25
+1.21
8
Run 2
47.97
+1.06
8
Finish
1:33.66
+1.05
7

8. (14) LIENSBERGER Katharina (AUT)
Diff Rank
Run 1
46.61
+1.55
15
Inter 1
1:01.73
+1.55
8
Inter 2
1:21.22
+1.18
7
Run 2
47.24
+0.33
2
Finish
1:33.85
+1.24
8

9. (15) HAVER-LOESETH Nina (NOR)
Diff Rank
Run 1
46.35
+1.29
10
Inter 1
1:01.80
+1.62
11
Inter 2
1:21.74
+1.70
9
Run 2
47.73
+0.82
7
Finish
1:34.08
+1.47
9

10. (12) GISIN Michelle (SUI)
Diff Rank
Run 1
46.53
+1.47
13
Inter 1
1:01.80
+1.62
11
Inter 2
1:21.78
+1.74
10
Run 2
48.03
+1.12
9
Finish
1:34.56
+1.95
10

Killington World Cups Confirmed with Positive Snow Control

Vermont’s Killington Resort, the largest ski and snowboard resort in Eastern North America and part of POWDR, is pleased to have received a positive snow control announcement from FIS, the governing body of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup.

FIS released the statement announcing “that the Ladies’ Audi FIS Ski World Cup races in Killington are confirmed following the official snow control from today 15th November 2018. As scheduled, the races will take place on 24th – 25th November 2018.”

With this announcement, Killington Resort can assure international race teams and ski racing fans traveling to central Vermont for Thanksgiving Weekend that both the giant slalom and slalom races will take place as scheduled.

“The news of FIS approval on race course snow preparation has the entire resort excited to welcome international ski teams from more than 20 countries to Killington next week. This approval reinforces that Killington’s snowmaking system and mountain operations teams are the best in the business at doing their craft and getting the race hill ready,” commented Herwig Demschar, SVP international business development at POWDR and World Cup local organizing committee chairman. “Now in its third year at Killington Resort, you can expect this world-class event to be bigger and better with an expanded musical line-up and opportunities to meet and greet the athletes. The resort, POWDR, and town of Killington are thrilled to host the World Cup and once again bring elite ski racing to the East.”

Killington Resort opened to season pass and Express Card holders for skiing and snowboarding on October 19 followed by a public opening on October 20. With snowmaking now mostly concluded on the World Cup trail, Superstar, Killington snowmakers continue snowmaking on Skyelark to add a training run for World Cup racers. The snowmaking team also continues to expand terrain for the public in the areas of Snowdon and Canyon while resurfacing current top-to-bottom skiing and riding.

A full schedule of events at Killington Resort during World Cup Weekend including race start times, entertainment, free concerts by Paul Oakenfold, Michael Franti, KT Tunstall and Guster, plus information on many free parking and shuttle bus options is available here. Killington strongly suggests to not bring bags to the venue, as security screening priority will be given to those without bags. Stay connected to the Killington Cup on social media with #beastworldcup.

Release courtesy of Killington Resort

Killington World Cups Confirmed with Positive Snow Control

Vermont’s Killington Resort, the largest ski and snowboard resort in Eastern North America and part of POWDR, is pleased to have received a positive snow control announcement from FIS, the governing body of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup.

FIS released the statement announcing “that the Ladies’ Audi FIS Ski World Cup races in Killington are confirmed following the official snow control from today 15th November 2018. As scheduled, the races will take place on 24th – 25th November 2018.”

With this announcement, Killington Resort can assure international race teams and ski racing fans traveling to central Vermont for Thanksgiving Weekend that both the giant slalom and slalom races will take place as scheduled.

“The news of FIS approval on race course snow preparation has the entire resort excited to welcome international ski teams from more than 20 countries to Killington next week. This approval reinforces that Killington’s snowmaking system and mountain operations teams are the best in the business at doing their craft and getting the race hill ready,” commented Herwig Demschar, SVP international business development at POWDR and World Cup local organizing committee chairman. “Now in its third year at Killington Resort, you can expect this world-class event to be bigger and better with an expanded musical line-up and opportunities to meet and greet the athletes. The resort, POWDR, and town of Killington are thrilled to host the World Cup and once again bring elite ski racing to the East.”

Killington Resort opened to season pass and Express Card holders for skiing and snowboarding on October 19 followed by a public opening on October 20. With snowmaking now mostly concluded on the World Cup trail, Superstar, Killington snowmakers continue snowmaking on Skyelark to add a training run for World Cup racers. The snowmaking team also continues to expand terrain for the public in the areas of Snowdon and Canyon while resurfacing current top-to-bottom skiing and riding.

A full schedule of events at Killington Resort during World Cup Weekend including race start times, entertainment, free concerts by Paul Oakenfold, Michael Franti, KT Tunstall and Guster, plus information on many free parking and shuttle bus options is available here. Killington strongly suggests to not bring bags to the venue, as security screening priority will be given to those without bags. Stay connected to the Killington Cup on social media with #beastworldcup.

Release courtesy of Killington Resort

Johanna Schnarf to Miss 2018-19 Season

Veteran speed skier Johanna “Hanna” Schnarf of Italy, one of the friendliest faces on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup tour, sustained a season-ending injury during giant slalom training at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on November 13. She will miss the 2018-19 competition season after sustaining a displaced tibia and fibula fracture in her left leg.

Schnarf underwent surgery in Vail, Colorado, where she will remain for the next few days while recovering. She will return to Italy once she is medically cleared for travel.

The 34-year-old finished second in the super-G in Cortina, Italy, last season for the second podium finish in her lengthy career. The other came in the downhill in Crans Montana, Switzerland, in 2010, the same season she placed fourth in the Olympic Winter Games super-G at Whistler. The Italian has started in 189 World Cup races, the first in Lake Louise back in 2004.

Schnarf came on strong in the past two seasons by finishing off 2017 ranked sixth in the downhill standings and in 2018 ranked eighth in the super-G standings. She contemplated retirement at the end of the 2018 winter but committed to another season on the circuit where she was looking forward to participating in her sixth FIS World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden.

Release courtesy of FIS.

Remembering Eastern Coaching Legend Marty Heib

Editor’s note: A versrion of this story was submitted to Ski Racing Media by Bill Farrell, Director of Communications at Berkshire East Ski Resort, and has been reprinted with his permission. 

It was early in September of 1986 and University of Vermont freshman, Jim Schaefer, was tearful and rejected. At Deerfield Academy, he was a standout skier; however, he was now in the big leagues of competitive collegiate skiing and he didn’t have any “blue book” points necessary to even be considered for a position racing for a Division I NCAA championship team.

As Schaefer walked away from the administration building, Marty Heib, the Men’s Alpine Coach, walked up from behind and put his arm around him.

“Look, I can see that you’re bitterly disappointed about what we told you up in the office…but here’s what I’m going to offer you,” said Heib. “I can’t promise you anything, but I’m going to ask you to attend the dryland sessions and work your tail off. From there, we’ll see what happens, but don’t tell anyone that I invited you.”

Schaefer never did tell anyone about Heib’s secret invitation; he worked his tail off and eventually participated and captained the team to a pair of NCAA championship titles.

So, what made a decorated NCAA Ski Championship coach so sensitive to a young unheralded kid’s disappointment and give him an opportunity, an opportunity that another coach might not even consider worth his time or effort?

It’s answered with another question: what made Marty Heib?

Heib grew up in Elmira, New York, a small hamlet near Corning. His parents, John and Catherine, fostered a love of outdoor sports and especially alpine skiing with Heib and his two brothers, Mike and Dan. In 1962, a 12-year-old Heib won first place in his age group at the U.S. giant slalom championships held at nearby Greek Peak. A year later, and racing in the older age division, Heib won again. Heib developed into a successful high school ski racer and eventually represented nearby Greek Peak with a fifth place result in the Brodie Mountain Pro Race in 1972.

During his senior year at Cortland Community College in 1971, Heib completed his degree as an intern coach at the newly founded Burke Mountain Academy in East Burke, Vermont. Heib immediately embraced Burke’s philosophy of excellent academics, a technical understanding of ski equipment and rigorous daily training. Burke’s head coach, Warren Witherell, offered Heib a contract and from there, Heib developed a devoted following of believers.

Heib had a unique gift for inspiring and motivating marginal athletes into becoming champions and enjoying life. Heib not only encouraged his own charges to excel, but his enthusiasm spilled over to other ski racers.

“When I was at Stratton and Marty was at Burke, he didn’t care that I wasn’t a Burkie Bear,” says Bill Doble of Dodge Ski Boots. “Marty helped me as much as any coach I had at Stratton.”

Heib’s tenure at Burke led to his ascension into the top ranks of alpine ski coaching throughout Europe, Argentina and at most every major ski racing venue in North America. In 1977, at age 27, Heib was named to the men’s coaching staff of the U.S. Ski Team, where he coached the men’s Europa Cup Team in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and then on to Squaw Valley, California, for a downhill training camp.

On June 9, 1978, Heib was positioned near the last knoll of a downhill training course at Squaw Valley, when he heard a radio transmission informing everyone that the course was closed. However, and unfortunately in this situation, radio waves travel much faster than the final ski racer who was now on the course. When Heib moved beneath the knoll to perform some routine course maintenance, the last racer, Joel Personne, inadvertently struck Heib in excess of 60mph.

Personne explained that in the moment before the collision, he instinctively turned his skis sideways to avoid hitting Heib’s head with the ski tips. Both racer and coach were severely injured. Personne, a good friend of Heib’s, broke his femur and dislocated his hip and Heib sustained a horrific impact to the left side of his skull. Heib’s heart stopped beating and instinctively, one of the other coaches began performing CPR which saved Heib’s life.

Heib was transported to the Washoe Medical Center in nearby Reno, Nevada, and spent the next month in an unconscious state. When he exited the comma, he couldn’t speak or walk. The severe brain injury left him completely paralyzed on the right side of his body. He was then airlifted to the Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, which specializes in head and spinal rehabilitation. During the following 16 months, Heib demonstrated the same absolute intensity that he always expected of his skiers. At first, he had to relearn how to move each finger individually, and then, 105 days after being admitted, Heib walked out of the hospital.

Walking out of a hospital and resuming the life as an accomplished athlete and a high level coach are several planets apart. Heib was only 29 and now he had to face the challenges of continuous rehabilitation, securing a livelihood and pursuing the improbable dream of perhaps one day finding his way back to coaching.

In 1979, the University of Vermont’s Chip LaCasse hired Heib as the Men’s Alpine Ski Coach. What appeared to be an improbable leap of faith by LaCasse and UVM to hire Heib, eventually turned into a real-life fairytale.

When Heib arrived in Burlington, two accomplished UVM skiers, John Teague and Chris Mikell, were buoyed over the thought that they would once again work with their beloved coach who had nurtured them when they attended Burke Mountain Academy. However, they also recognized that he was not the same Coach they once knew.

Instinctively, Teague, Mikell and the rest of the team understood that this would only work if they all pulled together to help each other. Heib was finally back in the coaching game and while he had many physical limitations, he never lost his ability to organize, work with ski manufacturers and to inspire and motivate others.

Whenever the team trained and travelled, Teague remembers that there was always one team member assigned to stay vigilant up in the passenger seat whenever Marty drove the team van. Everyone pitched in, everyone helped Marty return to become the best coach that he could be.

At the 1980 NCAA championships in Lake Placid, New York, UVM Nordic skiers under Perry Bland took an unexpected early lead. At the time, UVM had never won any national skiing championships — or any national championships in any sport for that matter. When Heib and his Alpine skiers were handed over the responsibility of preserving a respectable finish for the Catamounts, they did the unthinkable.

“We crushed it; we absolutely crushed it,” remembers Teague. “Tor (Melander), Chris (Mikell), Scott (Light), Dave (Bean), and I blew away the rest of the NCAA field.”

After UVM won the 1980 NCAA Division I Skiing Championships, Kay Rockwell, an editor from King Prussia, Pennsylvania, wrote”

“Marty Heib’s remarkable progress toward full recovery has continued in his few months at the University of Vermont. That progress and the ideals from which it evolves, has become a sterling example behind college athletics. The UVM Ski Team dedicates its participation in the 1980 NCAA Skiing Championships to Marty Heib and to his philosophy of motivation and determination, the product we have observed for ourselves.”

Heib continued coaching at UVM and in 1986, he earned a Masters in Education from the University. He went on to become the Headmaster at the Waterville Valley Academy in New Hampshire in 1987 and for the rest of his life, Heib continued to inspire and motivate athletes and everyone he ever met.

The entire skiing community was deeply saddened by Marty’s unexpected death in early October of 2018. At the time of his death, he was the Director of Rental Operations at the Catamount Ski Area in South Egremont, Massachusetts. Marty leaves behind his wife Meg, Evan and Adelle Heib of Rye Brook, New York, and a brother, Dan Heib, in Victor, New York.

A “Celebration of Marty Heib’s Life” will begin at noon at the Warfield House Inn in Charlemont, Massachusetts, on Saturday, November 17, 2018.

Olympian Helping Kids Fall in Love with Skiing with New Children’s Book

U.S. Olympian and former U.S. Alpine Team member Libby Ludlow says that the greatest gift her parents gave her was her lifelong love for skiing, “I was able to endure the rigors of being a professional athlete simply because I adored my sport,” she said.

With her passion for skiing still strong ten years after retiring from the U.S. Ski Team, Ludlow is the first to point out that her love for skiing started way back on the bunny hill when she was two years old. On November 13th, Ludlow is launching A-B-Skis, a children’s alphabet book about the magical world of skiing.

“Skiing is such a special sport, the mountain is a like a gigantic playground,” Ludlow added. “I want the next generation of skiers to fall in love with skiing as much as I did. I couldn’t be more excited to make A-B-Skis available to the skiing community. Adults will treasure sharing it with the kids in their life, and kids won’t be able to wait for their next trip to the ski hill.”

Designed to instill a lifelong love for skiing, A-B-Skis is a glimpse into everything that’s at the heart of the sport—from hot chocolate breaks, to ripping runs with friends. The colorful illustrations by PSIA ski instructor Nathan Jarvis pique kid’s curiosity for the winter wonderland that awaits them on the slopes, while playful rhymes guide kids through everything they can expect on a typical ski day.

“I’ve always been an avid writer,” says Ludlow, “A-B-Skis is the perfect intersection of my passion for skiing, my love of writing, and my interest as a mom to share memorable experiences with my toddler.”

By using Kickstarter to launch A-B-Skis, Ludlow is collecting the orders needed to finalize her self-publishing push. She says that while her primary motivation for writing A-B-Skis is to help kids fall in love with the magic of skiing, the added benefit comes in the improved expectations and life-lessons that kids glean from the book.

“To me, an adult’s primary job when it comes to introducing kids to a new sport, is to make sure they love it for life. A-B-Skis makes it easier for adults to share the stoke of skiing with their little ones.”

Want to share A-B-Skis with a tiny human in your life? Order your copy no later than December 13th here.

Release courtesy of A-B-Skis.

Olympian Helping Kids Fall in Love with Skiing with New Children’s Book

U.S. Olympian and former U.S. Alpine Team member Libby Ludlow says that the greatest gift her parents gave her was her lifelong love for skiing, “I was able to endure the rigors of being a professional athlete simply because I adored my sport,” she said.

With her passion for skiing still strong ten years after retiring from the U.S. Ski Team, Ludlow is the first to point out that her love for skiing started way back on the bunny hill when she was two years old. On November 13th, Ludlow is launching A-B-Skis, a children’s alphabet book about the magical world of skiing.

“Skiing is such a special sport, the mountain is a like a gigantic playground,” Ludlow added. “I want the next generation of skiers to fall in love with skiing as much as I did. I couldn’t be more excited to make A-B-Skis available to the skiing community. Adults will treasure sharing it with the kids in their life, and kids won’t be able to wait for their next trip to the ski hill.”

Designed to instill a lifelong love for skiing, A-B-Skis is a glimpse into everything that’s at the heart of the sport—from hot chocolate breaks, to ripping runs with friends. The colorful illustrations by PSIA ski instructor Nathan Jarvis pique kid’s curiosity for the winter wonderland that awaits them on the slopes, while playful rhymes guide kids through everything they can expect on a typical ski day.

“I’ve always been an avid writer,” says Ludlow, “A-B-Skis is the perfect intersection of my passion for skiing, my love of writing, and my interest as a mom to share memorable experiences with my toddler.”

By using Kickstarter to launch A-B-Skis, Ludlow is collecting the orders needed to finalize her self-publishing push. She says that while her primary motivation for writing A-B-Skis is to help kids fall in love with the magic of skiing, the added benefit comes in the improved expectations and life-lessons that kids glean from the book.

“To me, an adult’s primary job when it comes to introducing kids to a new sport, is to make sure they love it for life. A-B-Skis makes it easier for adults to share the stoke of skiing with their little ones.”

Want to share A-B-Skis with a tiny human in your life? Order your copy no later than December 13th here.

Release courtesy of A-B-Skis.

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