WORLD JUNIOR ALPINE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Buck Starts Here
Maisie Ide, Michael Ankeny and Matthew Strand all made
the World Junior Team from Erich Seiler’s Buck Hill Ski club.
Some might think that startling. Buck Hill is a 309-foot-verti-
cal-drop ski area in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.,
mostly devoted to night skiing. Those not startled know about
Erich Seiler, the longtime coach who runs the Buck Hill Ski Team
But Seiler’s kids seem to develop all the skills they need, as
well as a love for the sport.
“For the most part,” says domestic director Walt Evans, “[Seiler’s]
kids stay in the sport, and more important, are good people.”
So there is more to this than just running gates under the lights
in the freezing Minnesota night. These kids enjoy it. Seiler is a
Pied Piper for all that is good about ski racing.
“There are 140 kids on the team and they ski at night from 7 to 9
p.m., 8 to 10 p.m. sometimes,” says Seiler. “When I look at them
it’s another thing. You want to keep them as natural as possible,
as little talk as possible.”
So, basically, Seiler lets them do their own thing within some
parameters. Lindsey Vonn, he says, was interesting in her early
years. “She never learned to ski around a gate,” says Seiler.
“Right from the beginning she just went through it. She developed her own way. You correct a little, but they have to have
their own style.”
And you let them teach each other. Matt Strand, one of those
who made this season’s World Junior Team (and led the squad
with an eighth in slalom in his first international outing) has been
one of Seiler’s demonstrators for years.
“I used him as a demonstrator at eight or nine years old,” says
Seiler of Strand. “He has such fast feet. He can lay them over
edge to edge without any slide.”
The World Junior Championships have just concluded, and
— admittedly — it wasn’t the best of performances by the U.S.
team. But, really, that doesn’t change anything. Seiler’s racers
represented the U.S. of A. and it is possible, if not likely, a future
member of the World Cup team will emerge from the group.
“I’m so proud,” said Seiler. “It’s good for skiing. I’m on a mission.”
In the end, Seiler and Nolting agree on one critical component:
cultivate a passion for the sport.