It’s a Winter Olympics year, and that means we’re being inundated with snowsport athlete news. But we hear little about the coaches behind the athletes.
I just read an article in the Concord Monitor about a Waterville Valley ski coach who has helped train, nurture and rehab Olympians – past, present and future. Tom Barbeau, Director of Human Performance and Alpine Program Director at WVBBTS/Waterville Valley Academy, has most recently been working with alpine racer Julia Ford.
Julia is a local gal, raised in Holderness, NH. I first met Julia when she was a pre-teen. She played on my son’s club soccer team. She was one of two girls in a male dominated travel team circuit. My husband coached the team and described Julia as a dynamo. Her athleticism and determination were obvious way back then. She was one of those kids that parents whispered about, “She’s going somewhere.”
Both of my kids attended Holderness School with Julia. She was already a superstar in the making – alpine skier, soccer and lacrosse player, president of the student body. It was no surprise that she made the U.S. Alpine Team and competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
However, as Concord Monitor columnist Ray Duckler writes, by the 2014 Olympics “her body had worn down, which is what happens to skiers who first hit the slopes at age 3…A year after the Olympics, Ford couldn’t take it any longer….there was writing on the wall, and it told Ford to have surgery to fix a disc in her back and the inflamed cartilage in her knee. Or retire.”
Enter Waterville Valley coach, Tom Barbeau, “a magician when it comes to nurturing skiers back to health, even after their knees have turned into hamburger.
“He works at the Waterville Valley Academy, coaching kids and rehabbing high-octane athletes who refuse to give up their dreams. He utilizes the Burdenko Method, created by a Soviet doctor, which combines land- and water-based programs and features patience, not pushing.”
With Barbeau’s help and Ford’s determination, maybe we’ll be cheering on Julie at the next Winter Olympics.