Head Women’s Nordic Coach, U.S. Ski Team
Several years ago, Matt Whitcomb went to Yankee Stadium — and
proudly cheered for the Red Sox as his team took advantage of a
newly signed and slumping Alex Rodriguez. Naturally, he endured
a torrent of verbal abuse from the Bronx zoo. No matter. “The most
melodic sound in the world to me is actually not a sound at all,”
Whitcomb says today. “It’s a Yankee fan in the bleachers in New
York being quiet. Af-
ter a big inning from
the Sox that day,
you could’ve read a
book out there.”
Now, other nations
are quietly watch-
ing his women hit-
ting their own home
runs in cross coun-
try skiing. Eight
years into his ten-
ure, Whitcomb has
slowly coalesced a
tightly knit team by
against odds that
didn’t favor Amer-
ican skiers. Whit-
comb (who began
as a development
coach for the U.S. Ski Team) has learned each athlete’s particular
inclinations and has helped foster a strong and supportive atmo-
With New England humility, Whitcomb refuses to take credit for
the inarguable success of the team. “I’ve been dealt some very
good cards,” he says. Still, playing those cards has been an exercise is intentionality, of not disturbing the quiet when necessary.
Whitcomb employs a professional poker face. He is there when he
needs to be, and recedes into the background when he doesn’t.
Not that he’s inscrutable or silent. (Witness him line dancing in
the U.S. Ski Team-produced Taylor Swift music video homage last
season.) Rather, Whitcomb has a unique gift for balancing high ex-
pectations with unflagging support, and his steadfastness is catch-
ing on among fellow U.S. coaches.
Walking into the Scandinavian-led ski scene is daunting — unless
you’ve faced down a stadium full of Yankee fans.
Assistant Coach, U.S. Ski Team
If there were an episode of the game show Jeopardy that was tailored for Jason Cork, the categories and sample answers would
Obscure Wax Brands: What is Bratlie?
Nordic Ski Course Features: What is Cologna Stutz in Davos?
Particularly Distinguishing Skier Style: What were aviators on Gjer-dalen?
Nordic Ski Related Exercise Physiology: What is a minimum elbow
Noted Doping Controversies: Who was Johan Muelleg?
World Cup Trivia 1970 to present: Who is Petra Madjic?
Cork is an encyclopedia
of nordic skiing details.
A lifelong student of the
sport, he can talk easily about how races that
took place before he was
10 years old changed
the nature of ski racing;
how recent events were
shaped by advancements in technique and
wax; and which tiny cultural details are shorthand for some larger
movement in the sport.
(The US women’s striped relay socks, for example.)
Through all of this, however, Cork remains grounded, and his talent is in taking these little particulars and storing them, observing
them, and redeploying them when they might be useful. His athletes describe him as ego-less, consistent and impressively devoted. U.S. Cork has been bright enough to witness the new power
accumulating in U.S. nordic skiing happening and to keep the momentum moving in the right direction.
Head Nordic Coach, University of Utah
As an athlete and then coach, Abi Holt has spent the majority of
her Thanksgiving holidays in West Yellowstone, Mont., during the
eponymous ski festival. We’re talking nearly 25 Turkey Days on
skinny skis, giving Holt some serious snow cred.
In her time as a coach, Holt has led athletes in her hometown of
TK, helped out across the border in Vancouver TK PROGRAM and
now resides in the Beehive State, where she coaches the University of Utah team alongside with program director, Kevin Swee-ney. Holt keeps athletes grounded and driven toward better performances despite, or perhaps in concert with, the rigors of collegiate
SARAH BRUNSON/U. S. SKI TEAM
Matt Whitcomb cheers
on Holly Brooks.
Jason Cork celebrates
with Jessie Diggins.