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From Competitor to Coach

An interview with Jordan Buetow



Earlier this month, Bend Endurance Academy announced a new coach, Jordan Buetow, who joins the staff at the Nordic Development Team Coach. Buetow grew up in Alaska, and more recently, raced for Bates College on the east coast. Two years ago, he spent the summer training with BEA, and now returns as one of its coaches.

Source Weekly: You grew up in Alaska. Who was your coach as a teenager, and what have you taken from him/her in your own coaching philosophy?

Jordan Buetow: My coach as a teenager in Fairbanks was Pete Leonard. I find myself using a lot of technique drills and workouts at practice that I learned from him over the years. Pete also had a philosophy of training with a purpose every day, which I try to emulate when planning practices. It's much more beneficial to work on something specific than to just wander around the trails.

SW: What first got you into skiing?

JB: I first started skiing with my family, really before I can even remember. We weren't a die-hard ski family or anything; my parents just enjoyed going occasionally and getting my brother and I outdoors as much as possible. So they enrolled me in the Fairbanks Junior Nordics program at an early age and then I skied off and on with my elementary and middle school teams until I really committed myself to the sport in high school.

SW: The transition from competitor to coach can be tricky. What is the hardest thing to give up? What do you most gain as a coach?

JB: For me the transition from competitor to coach came pretty easy. Throughout college I was always trying to help my teammates improve, so whether I was giving them technique pointers, race strategy advice, or helping to overcome mental obstacles, I learned how to recognize certain things and how to communicate with athletes in different situations. I also was always very in tune with my training so I learned a lot by talking to my coaches about what they were having us do and why. The coaching comes natural for me; it was just a matter of deciding when the right time was for me to stop racing. My greatest gains from being a coach are staying closely involved with the sport that has had such a huge impact on my life, and trying to make skiing as fun and educational for the kids as it was for me.

SW: You had an impressive career racing for Bates College (Maine), including a fourth place finish last January at the US Cross Country Championships. How was skiing in the New England college circuit different from west coast racing?

JB: The unique thing about skiing in New England (and particularly on the college circuit) is the number of skiers and teams and how close together the all are. It makes for a really fun racing circuit with large, competitive fields, and an incredibly social atmosphere. There seems to be a lot more interaction between teams than in other regions, and I built some great friendships with skiers at different schools during my years there.

SW: What looks like success for you as a coach? Top wins? Turning teenagers into lifelong skiers?

JB: Success for me as a coach is seeing kids become passionate about skiing and wanting to improve. It's great to have a skier accomplish their goals, but it's seeing them work through ups and downs in the process and learning from their mistakes that I find most rewarding.

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