I don’t care how much apathy you have towards US soccer, if you aren’t even a little bit excited by what happened in last night’s game, you can’t call yourself a patriot. On the flip side, if you’ve watched every single MLS, Premier League and Serie A match since 2002 and are completely disgusted that your nation only pays attention to your sport every four years, get over it. They’re paying attention now. Stop posting your resentment on your Facebook status’.
For the second group of people, trust me, I feel for you. Coming from a padless, endurance-y, vaguely metro European sport myself, I know the frustration of not getting the attention we think we deserve. As it turns out, futbol, the world’s game, is doing pretty well at winning over American hearts (you know, now that America is #winning). Like most other sports, we could learn a thing or two about athletics from paying attention to Rio.
1. The first game of the tournament is the most important (Re: US v Ghana)
Back in the day, this is what my soccer coach always harped on as we entered multiple days of play. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, how many games you have or how likely your odds are to win the whole shebang. The first game sets the tone for the rest of your play. Likewise, in skiing, the first race of a series can determine the rest of your races down the line.
It doesn’t matter if your first race is a 20k and you’re a sprinter, if it’s skate and you’d rather classic or if you’ll have plenty of chances down in the week to make up for a bad race. Be professional. Respect your competition. Show up willing to fight, ready to win.
2. Agility and endurance is possible.
3. The most dangerous lead is 2-0
Another thing my old coach used to teach us was that the most comeback wins were 3-2. You’ve worked hard, scored, then scored again for cushion and you immediately let up on the gas and relax. The other team scores. You scramble. In your moment of panic, they score again. Zeroes. Suddenly you’re no longer defending, but have to do what you thought you had done and pull ahead and finish it. They score again.
Just because you’re leading does not mean that you have won. The race ends at the line. Don’t give the people behind you the opportunity to take advantage of your panic.
4. Right footed player is a $1 million player. Someone who can strike with both feet? $3 million.
For God’s sake. Learn to pole on both sides.
5. Know how much time you have, know how to use it.
Leading with two minutes left? Get the ball to the wing and walk to get your throw ins. Trailing with two minutes left? Sprint to the ball, keep your composure, get the ball to the center, and in the hole. While the race does end at the line, skiers can use and manipulate time just the same as soccer players. Knowing where you are in the race and when is the appropriate time to strike and pull back is an art. I’ll let you know when I’ve mastered it…
6. IT’S POSSIBLE TO SCORE ON SET PLAYS
Sports aren’t all improv. Having a plan isn’t a formality. Make one.
7. It’s ok to celebrate a little bit.
Maybe just keep your shirt on. Frostbite.
8. Shake hands, trade jerseys.
Once you’ve crossed the line and had a few minutes to come back from hypoxia. Stand up, brush the snow off your legs and congratulate those around you. Nobody likes a grumpy finisher, no matter how much fouling happened in the trees. When the race is over, it’s over.
9. It’s not all about the shoes…but it’s kind of all about the shoes.
Care about your equipment. Don’t tell me your skis aren’t summer waxed and stored in a cool, dry area.
10. Soccer is categorically a team sport, so is skiing.
It takes as many people to get you to the line as it does to get the ball in the goal. Recognize that, recognize them, ski for us.
Things not to do from soccer: fake an injury
In soccer, it’s an advantage to know where the ref is. No good player will ever be fouled without winning the call. But in skiing, the TD doesn’t really care that you got poled in the leg. If you got obstructed at the line, it’s probably going to be called, so you better keep diving for that line. If it happens in the trees, no one is watching, ski now, complain later.