Skiing: Douglas grad aiming for 2014 Olympics
October 4, 2012
Nearly 500 days remain until the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, Russia.
The distance between now and then, though, seems even greater to 2006 Douglas High graduate Nick Cohee.
Cohee’s aim is to be there as a competitor when they light the Olympic torch in two years. But he’ll be the first to tell you that aiming and actually doing are vastly different propositions.
“The Olympics are two years away,” said Cohee, who just wrapped up a highly-decorated skiing career at the University of Utah. “When you look at it that way, there’s a lot of pressure. It’s a big step right there.
“My focus has to be on the steps in between. I have to take every race as it comes, and prepare the same way I have always prepared. I’m a lot smarter skier now than I was when I was trying to make the national team before I went to college.
“I know now that where it happens is in those small steps. If you aren’t focusing on those, you just won’t get there.”
Cohee – whose father, Tim, owns China Peak Mountain Resort in California and previously ran Kirkwood Mountain Resort for many years – helped Utah to a second-place finish at the NCAA National Championships last winter. He placed third in the giant slalom for his first podium finish at a national
championships and earned first-team All-American honors for the second time of his career.
The finish was the sixth podium finish of his senior season and ninth of his college career. He left Utah having qualified for the national championships three times. He shared the school’s Dave Novelle Outstanding Skier Award, given annually to the male athlete most influential to the men’s team’s success during the season.
“I just put my head down and trained really hard last summer and the summer before,” Cohee said. “I put in a lot of effort and tried to help my team to a national championship. We came up just short.”
His success helped provide a solid transition into the next phase of his athletic career. He trained in Europe and in New Zealand all summer and will be moving to Vail, Colo., next week to continue his training.
“I couldn’t have had a better season out of college,” Cohee said. “It was exactly what I needed to do to keep skiing.
“It was a good stepping stone into the summer. I’m looking at a couple of Nor-Am races to start this year. The hope is that I can ski well enough, fast enough, to get a spot at some World Cup races.
“Then I’ll see if I can shoot for a more permanent spot on the World Cup circuit, and then the Olympics. There’s no skipping steps though. It’s a matter of how much time and effort I can put into it and how fast I can ski.”
At Vail, he’ll train with Ski Club Vail and have access to some of the top coaching and training facilities in the world. While there, Cohee will be working largely with coach Peter Lange, who is heading up a small private team, Team Leever, this season.
“Peter has been a private coach for 20-some years and he’s put a lot of athletes on the World Cup and on the U.S. Ski team,” Cohee said. “He is really helping me get in contact with some of the national team coaches.
“This summer I got to talk with them, meet with them and train with them. All I can do is put the work in and see what happens.”
Cohee said the work is comprehensive, with up to six hours spent on the mountain in a typical training day.
“There’s warm-up and setting the course,” Cohee said. “The actual time in the gates, you’re taking maybe six to 10 runs per session and the rest of the day you’re working on stuff outside the course, figuring things out.”
But, outside of that, now that he is no longer a student athlete, he’ll be having to market himself.
“That’s certainly a big part of trying to make it as a professional skier,” Cohee said. “During college, my overhead was covered by the University of Utah.
“That was great, but now it comes down to the tough part. My parents are supporting me a lot and I have a lot of great sponsors and private donors.
Kirkwood stepped up big time and Snowbomb.com has been great. Some of my dad’s friends and the ski community as a whole have helped me out a lot.”
Cohee recently released his own social media platform as well at nickcohee.com.
“It’s something I’ve learned from other skiers, really,” Cohee said. “Skiing is a struggling sport right now and a lot of guys are trying and not making money doing it. About a year and a half ago, skiers started really getting on promoting themselves. I’ve watched and learned a little bit.
“For me, I’m not just going to be dealing with my skiing. I’m going to document everything I’m doing, from the training to the traveling. There are a lot of things that happen off the hill that are worth sharing. If I’m skiing well, hopefully I can pick up some followers, especially in Europe. The key is just being prepared before anything like that happens.”
Cohee said his training and race calendar will be available on his Web site in the coming weeks. The Nor-Am season opener is in November at Loveland and Aspen, Colo. The World Cup opener is Dec. 2 at Beaver Creek, Colo.
“The lifestyle is pretty unique,” Cohee said. “Once you get to this level, everyone is in it together. It’s a collective goal and everyone is trying to reach their full potential. It’s a lot of fun and you’re around friends. I’m just glad I get to keep doing it for a while longer.”