In the U.S., it is a commonly held belief that starting your collegiate ski racing career spells the end for your professional one. The U.S. Ski Team has an aggressive development pipeline with a heavy focus at the high school level, but once you enter higher education it seems to all but disappear. While “Develop them while they’re young” isn’t the wrong approach, the fact that there is little-to-no support on the national level for older athletes has helped to create this culture of “now or never.”
After the age of 22, athletes need to be scoring World Cup points to have the support of the national body, which has led to many postponing their education until later in life. In recent years, however, there seems to be a shift happening in how to approach college education and racing. While the USST might not be known for taking on athletes at a later age, they are gracious in awarding World Cup starts to those that deserve them, usually through a time-trial event. On the foreign side of things, university is more likely to be used as a springboard to the world stage. Think Jonathan Nordbotten, Laurence St-Germain (UVM), Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen (DU), and Tanguy Nef (Dartmouth) — all currently consistently top 30 on the World Cup. There are many ways to continue racing at a high level while juggling an education, and it is through this video series that I hope to showcase each unique approach pursued by student-athletes who are accomplishing their dreams in an uncompromising manner while challenging stereotypes that have stood for far too long.
In this first episode I follow around Storm Klomhaus, a senior at Denver University who had her World Cup debut earlier this season in Solden, Austria. Klomhaus is a unique case study. Instead of the “now-or-never approach” after high school, she decided to dive straight into college with the anticipation of completing her undergrad at a young age with plenty of time to pursue her professional ambitions in the sport after her graduation. Klomhaus is pre-med and intends to continue her education after her undergrad, but not before she’s first had a chance to give everything she has to the sport she loves.