Momentum: Chasing the Olympic Dream

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Momentum: Chasing the Olympic Dream

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Quick Overview

by Pete Vordenberg, US Team Head XC Coach

Big sale! $4.95. Reg. list price $18. Paperback, with photos. 191 pages.

What's So Special About This Ski Book?

Momentum is "the best XC ski read ever," says Bob Gregg, editor of Master Skier magazine. 'Nuff said!

In 2007 Kikkan Randall won the first-ever women's gold medal in XC for the USA! It was our first gold for US XC since 1983. I've seen some props going to a special new team spirit. Where did the new vibe come from? Read on...

Momentum got nine 5-star reviews in a row at Amazon!

Pete was a popular writer in the XC ski scene. He also honchoed a main US team website, he took amazing race photos. ...And he was the head coach!

In Momentum he pulls out all the stops and opens up skiing in a way we haven't seen before. The insights into life as a teenage junior skier are particularly rewarding, as it's a time not often covered in sports writing. Nonskiers love it, too. It shows a life of chasing a near-impossible dream...without excuses. Why bother trying to do something as crazy as win Olympic gold in XC? Read the book and see!

Product Description

Pete is a 2X-Olympian, Nat'l Champ, and was the US Team Head Coach of (not coincidentally) our best teams in decades. Momentum gives you the only look at what life is like inside the scrappy do-it-all US ski team. It's the only XC culture book out there, in fact, and it's a great read! If you're nuts about sport, you know it's a year-round thing. XC skiers maybe take April off then get roller-skiing, hill-bounding and enjoying everything else outdoors as much as they can. This story tracks that reality wonderfully. OK, here are a couple excerpts... From the chapter "Weeding Out the Weenies"... Our summer in Trout Lake ended three days before fall term was to start at Northern Michigan University. NMU is located on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the U.P., or "da you-pee" as it is commonly pronounced up there. NMU was a long two-day's drive from Trout Lake---if you only stopped for gas. It was our sophomore year and so we knew what awaited us. In the first week of school, Coach Sten Fjeldheim conducted what came to be called "Weeding Out the Weenies Week." Though it would become routine, training at 6:30 a.m. was a shock for all during Weeding Out the Weenies Week. On the mornings we didn't lift weights we ran, and afternoon practice began every day at 2 p.m. We did not ease into it. Summers were for preparing for the fall, and fall was for preparing for the season. You came to school ready. Weeding Out the Weenies Week was just one long, steep step in the whole process, a process that could make the ill-prepared feel like the end goal was not an Olympic medal but an early death. After the first week the team size was reduced considerably. Sten Fjeldheim was not interested in killing us. He had genuine, fire-hardened, cold-pressed, undefeatable passion. He was in his place, a self-carved niche, a home and an empire of skiing in the Upper Peninsula, where he could focus every volt of his vibrating, electric being on developing cross-country ski racers. Back in the weight room he made the rounds. "That's it, that's it. Come on Nelson! My grandma can lift more than that!" After a week of training it became obvious that Sten's grandma was an extraordinary woman. She could out-run, out-lift, and out-ski every one of us, but when praise was due, Sten was not withholding. "There you go," Sten continued, "Jesus, Sarah, how many of those things can you do? Nelson! Hey, Brad! Are you watching her? Yeah, Brad! Come on Amy! Good! Now we're talking, huh? What did I tell you? Now we're talking! Awwwooowwww!" Sten was no less red, the veins were no less distended, but now with the clang of weights and the sound of primal grunts, with the team training, Sten shone -- a man in his own perfect place. After weights we ran across campus to the dorms where we frantically changed, showered, ran to the cafeteria, wolfed breakfast, and then marched to class. It being the first week of school everyone had more to do and we skiers still had to get to afternoon practice on time. For most, Marquette Mountain is the local downhill ski area. For us it was the local uphill area. Two o'clock on a U.P. fall day often found us driving there to do uphill ski bounding or ski walking intervals. After about two hours of this Sten is satisfied and ready to go home. Coach Sten cared, and if you didn't, it was an unforgivable insult, a waste of more than just time and effort. Caring is what it took, what it takes -- a whole lot of caring. Sten said you had to want it, and he was right. [...Read the rest in the book!] *** From "Remember Kuusamo!" It was the spring of 1991. Cory Custer and I embarked on the last racing series of the season across northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway called the Polar Cup. Every race in the three-week trip took place above the Arctic Circle. This was the end of our first year out of high school, our first year as genuine ski racers. Cory had spent the fall and winter living in Norway, and I in Sweden. As a junior racing in Sweden I found some success. I won a few races and placed well in many. I fancied myself fast and on the rise. The trip to the Polar Cup wasn't that far, but it opened our eyes to the real world of elite ski racing. We had arranged a ride on the Polar Cup bus from race site to race site, starting in Helsinki, Finland. At the airport in Helsinki a Russian man held a cardboard sign with our names misspelled on it. We hopped on the bus and sped through the endless snow and pine forest of Finland. The bus, though full of skiers, was silent except for me and Cory rattling on about our latest adventure. Though juniors, we registered as senior racers for the Polar Cup so we could race the big boys -- the very best in the world. The first race was held in Kuusamo, Finland. It was an individual start, classic-style race. Cory Custer and I held early (rookie) seeded start positions. We warmed up on a portion of the course and could not believe the hills. There was no skiing them at an easy pace. Just to get up them we had to ski hard or walk. The starter took his hand off my shoulder and I took off on a fifty-minute epic. Every hill was brutal. I poled hard to maintain my momentum up the bottom of a hill, and then skied a few hard strides before the steep pitch forced me into a fast run and finally to a grueling herringbone out of the tracks. Eventually, the length of the hill forced me into a quick shuffle or scamper. As I scurried up the outside of the track, the world's best poured past me skiing up the tracks with big, powerful gliding strides. Though I was well out of his way, many-time Olympic medalist Vladimir Smirnov whacked me in the leg with his pole as he powered past. Cory reported receiving a similar blow when the huge Kazak passed him. We couldn't decide if it was meant as punishment -- the Alpha wolf scolding the pups -- or as encouragement. In any case it stung. Double-poling along the flats, I was passed by skiers whose poles whipped with a deep whoop as they swung forward and then kicked up a spray of snow with each push. But it was really the steep uphills where they buried me. They had springs in their legs. Taking springing strides, they caught and passed me and disappeared over the hill, leaving me gawking and scurrying along. I lived many little lives in that race and thought many thoughts -- too many thoughts. I marveled at the skiers flying past me. I knew I was too weak to ski as they did, but I raced as hard as I could. In the end I was beaten by almost eight minutes in just fifteen kilometers. On the train home from northern Norway, after the whole of the Polar Cup was over, I spent a long time staring out the window at the snow-covered landscape. Among the juniors I had some good races, but after Kuusamo I knew they meant little. Racing the seniors had a tremendous impact on me, but I was not disheartened. My young age enabled me to look at the distance I had to travel with excitement. As the snowbound villages clacked past the train's window I began to plot and steel myself for the voyage. In ten years, I thought, I can win. I determined that explosive strength was the area where I could make the biggest gains. Specifically, I had to be able to bound up those hills on legs like coiled steel. I needed to develop explosive power in my lower body and huge strength in my upper-body. Being beat that badly in Kuusamo became an inspiration. I flipped ahead months in my training log and wrote reminders to myself about the experience. "Remember Kuusamo." "Build explosive power!" "Strength!" "Eight minutes in Kuusamo!" And I set out a plan I devised myself on a train from northern Norway to middle Sweden. Like a mountain climber at base camp, I had seen the peak and now understood what lay before me. There was no mystery in what had to be done. As in mountain climbing, where the mountain looks huge and unconquerable until the task is broken down into the details of climbing it, my plan relied on the details of training. I thought there were many reasons that American skiers at the time weren't as good as their competitors from abroad. But the solution could be distilled down to one thing: training. [...Now, read the rest in the book!] Reviews... The marvel of Vordenberg's book is that it appeals to the non-skier as well as to ski racers past and present. Healthy doses of self-revelation, touches of On The Road, and remarkable insights make this a unique book. It's supposedly about skiing--but it's more about life and seizing it." --Bob Woodward, veteran ski journalist "Vordenberg's tale of seeking his Olympic dream, and in the process learning about life, is the most compelling athlete's book I've ever read. It may not have the drama of Lance's return from near death, but it's got as much guts and and more real life." --Ken Salzberg (5 stars Amazon) "Peter Vordenberg has capped an incredible career with what I believe will be one of the best sports books ever written." --Ernie Brumbaugh, pres. Michigan Cup racing series, at "...While I think McKibben is just a little bit more polished, I found Pete's book much more compelling. Pete is the real thing. Nothing came easy (except maybe the talent from his family), real work, real doubts, real development and growth, real skiing." --Ken Salzberg "A page-turner! For anyone who has had even a touch of Olympic Fever the story is contagious. Vordenberg puts you there. Right in his sweaty polypro's. This is spot-on, creative non-fiction. Go along for the dream. It's a Cera-Fast read." --"Tony" Hartmann (5 stars Amazon) "I give it the no-question-about-it Two Thumbs Up Award. The focus is on training, that makes it different, and very fun for ski racers to read. If it snows, go skiing. 'Til then, read Pete's book. I wish it never ended!" --Dell Todd "I thought it was fantastic! The book's emphasis on setting goals, discipline, perseverance and focus, can be applied to any endeavor." --Corlet Graff