It’s not often a professional racer retires and heads off to college, only to fall in love with the sport all over again.
But that is exactly what happened to Canadian Anna Goodman, who skied some of the fastest runs of her career last season, including a 15th-place World Cup result in Ofterschwang and a U.S. national slalom title in Squaw Valley. It was enough to persuade the 27-year-old to “unretire” and make a run at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
FIS Alpine recently had a chance to chat with her about the previous season and ambitions for 2013-14.
FIS Alpine: It has been an eventful year, you retired from ski racing, enrolled in college and embarked in a new type of life … until we saw you ripping that perfect run in Ofterschwang. Can you walk us through what exactly happened?
Goodman: I wanted to attend college in the U.S. and since I am too old to be eligible for NCAA, Westminster College in Salt Lake City was the perfect solution. The team at Westminster is not NCAA, but we compete in the NCAA circuit, in NorAms and at National Championships. It seemed like the best of both worlds: college and some ski racing. Although I did not train last summer, I coached a lot. By the time the first NorAm races rolled around, I was not exactly prepared. I showed up to the NorAms in Loveland.
With so little training and a point result bettering many of my races from the previous year, the ball started rolling and I knew I would try to win the NorAm title. I secured the title early in the season and decided to head to the last World Cup to see where I stood. I knew I was skiing well, but after a stiff and disappointing first run, I just decided to let it all go — win, or go out trying. Why not? I had flown all the way to Germany, rented a car, missed classes – there was nothing holding me back, and I wanted to show that I could still compete even if I had followed an untraditional path to get there.
FIS: Can you recall the moment when you decided it was time to retire and the one when you felt the motivation to race again and make Sochi your priority?
Goodman: I struggled a lot (in 2011-12) with how much time and displacement was devoted to the sport and how little happiness and how few results I got in return. I think my attitude reflected in my results. It’s really hard as a racer to commit so much time, money, energy, and abandon a “normal life” for a sport that can leave you completely defeated.
When I realized that I had lost my top 30 WCSL rank and would not technically make the Canadian Ski Team, I decided to retire rather than repeat it all over again. … I needed to change the way I felt about skiing and learn to love it all over again. Between coaching, backcountry skiing and racing Nor-Ams and FIS races, I fell in love with the sport all over again and realized that Sochi was within my reach and that I wanted to get there more than anything.
FIS: How hard is it to combine college and skiing at this point and are you planning to continue your studies now that you “unretired”?
Goodman: The hardest part is that you have to sacrifice your naps for homework. I will still do the fall semester at Westminster, but I will move to Europe for the winter right after exams and before Courchevel.
FIS: Apart from the cool new logo and plenty of motivation, what are your plans in the upcoming Olympic season?
Goodman: My biggest plan is to move to Europe, have my own car and apartment, and make the World Cup circuit my home. One of the hardest things as a North American is not having a home base, so I think that this is the biggest and most positive plan that I have for the Olympic Season.
FIS: Are you aiming at rejoining the team or you think you will prefer to stay on your own program while aiming to earn your spot in the Olympic team?
Goodman: I plan on rejoining the team for each World Cup race and trying to coordinate with them for some training. I am really close with the girls and we’ve always trained really well together. I am not going completely solo, but I will be based with (my boyfriend) Marco (Sullivan), instead of the ski team. I will drive myself to races and training, and I will tune my own skis
FIS: Skiing at the highest level requires coaches, travels, equipment and more. How hard is to finance a full season without the support of a team?
Goodman: It’s hard but I’ve realized that there are so many amazing people out there willing to lend a helping hand. I’ve seen awesome support through donations on my site, offers to train with different teams, opportunities to work as a coach, and just helping in whatever way people can.
Photo: GEPA file photo