Longtime Swix Athlete, Ida Sargent, has been a member of the U.S. Ski Team since 2011. The 2014 Olympian talks about the travel and insights into next year’s Olympic venue in PyeongChang, Korea, as well as her career-best finish, a third at the classic sprint test event.
Tell us about your first impressions of the Olympic venue. How's the course? What does it compare to on the World Cup or in the U.S.?
The venue in Pyeongchang is impressive and very fun to ski! We raced at night and the lights were so bright we skied in dark sunglasses. I really liked the course. I think it is one of the hardest and hilliest sprint courses on the World Cup circuit which is great for me. There are two long climbs and very little flat on the course. The downhills are fast and technical with big banked corners. The distance courses have really good flow.
You had your best ever World Cup result in the classic sprint. How did that race unfold and to what do you attribute your breakthrough?
I have been feeling really good for the past few weeks but sprint racing is tough and a little mistake can end a day. Everything seemed to finally come together for me in Pyeongchang and it was very exciting to reach the podium. I was able to refine my tactics with each heat and was ready to attack early in the final. I struggled a bit on the steep section of the last climb but skied the downhill and finishing stretch well to hang on for a podium finish.
The Olympics often bring increased pressure and scrutiny. How did this trip help and what will you take out of your time in PyeongChang?
If I’m selected for the Olympic team next year, I will feel much more familiar with the venue after having spent time there this year. I thought it was very helpful to ski the courses and I will be able to better plan and focus my training next year to match the steep and long climbs on the sprint courses. I will keep the image of the courses in my mind through the hard training sessions next year and feel confident and prepared having had some great racing on the Pyeongchang courses.
Your team is consistently good across its entire roster. What makes you collective good culturally and what can younger skiers learn from you?
We work hard to push and support each other as teammates and friends. Working together as a team, we are able to share our individual strengths which has pushed everyone to a higher level. I have been very inspired by many of the incredible results by teammates this year and knew that it was possible to compete with the best in the world. Seeing success from my teammates has given me the confidence to know that I can do it as well.
Korea is a long way from Europe. What strategies did you all take on to manage the interruption from the usual schedule? Any other insights from this trip or the season at large you'd like to offer?
We travel back and forth from Europe to the US a lot so I feel like we are prepared for that aspect. It was interesting to race at night so good practice to dial in the daily routine leading up to late starts for the Olympics.
Ida Sargent will continue racing throughout the World Cup season with races resuming next weekend in Otepää, Estonia.