I’ve been running against David Norris for 10 years. We clashed trying to crush each other. The end game was to earn valuable points on the national SuperTour circuit to qualify for the World Cups. We have traded podium spots at US Nationals and US SuperTours numerous times. As David’s one-time peer, I understand the need for funding and support to compete effectively at the elite level. I’m trying to raise awareness and cultivate support in the American cross-country ski community to persuade the American ski team that David deserves to be a member for 2021-2022. He needs the support and expertise of the national team to achieve the next step in his progression.
The team looks incredibly strong. With the clear trend of capturing young and accomplished skiers, the 2021-2022 U.S. team is bursting with potential. However, many athletes and coaches were surprised when the announcement of the US Ski Team was recently dropped. The roster of the team lacked a key athlete: David Norris. David has been one of the most consistent and successful cross-country skiers in the United States since 2010. There is data to prove this claim and you can see the results spreadsheet I curated at the end of this. This article.
I know this is a merciless pursuit. Just like David. Let’s put this point aside – David is thirty years old. As the objective criteria of the American team evolve, Norris has many tree rings. There is also this undeniable truth, in addition to his strong national consistency, David has improved the World Cup since his debut in 2017. He has achieved an incredible 12 top-30 individual results in the World Cup. In 75% of those races, he ranked as the top American male finisher. At his first FIS World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria, in 2019, David placed 20th in the 50km; again, crossing the line as America’s first athlete. At his second FIS World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany in 2021, David placed 17th in the 30km skiathlon and 16th in the 50km classic. With these two recent top-20s, he crossed the finish line as the second American athlete in the two races behind Scott Patterson.
This is a small sample, two world championships. But trends are trends. In Seefeld he finished 20th in the 50 km. Two years later, he improved four places to 16th place in the 50 km classic. That’s a 20% improvement in place. It also demonstrates David’s overall ability in dual techniques. It’s the same in skiathlon – a bump from 36th in Seefeld to 17th in Oberstdorf can only be turned one way: promise, potential and ability, on a special day, to reach a top-10 or better.
It would seem clear to any cross-country or outdoor enthusiast that an athlete who consistently achieves the top 20 results at the World Championships and is the first or second American athlete deserves a place on the American ski team. . This puzzles many athletes, coaches and fans. David missed the team’s objective criteria. But, what adds to the confusion is that seven of the 21 US ski team nominations this year were used with discretion, meaning they did not meet objective criteria. Why would discretion not be used in the case of David Norris?
I am aware that no criterion will ever be “perfect” and that there will always be arguments and disagreements for every selection criterion and qualification process. There is always at least one skier on the wrong side of the equation. I think the selection of the US ski team is strong for 2022. However, I have a serious concern, and I think we should ask ourselves, why is one of our criteria missing such a high standard. best athletes?
There is a clause in the 2022 U.S. Cross Country Team nomination criteria under the discretionary selection policy: ââ¦ staff may consider any factor includingâ¦ illness or injury during the selection period.
It is crucial to know and publicize that David Norris suffered from Covid-19 in the fall of 2020. This may surprise many readers as David is not the type to be dramatic or to complain about factors that negatively affect his performance or his race. . He quietly recovered and worked in his training as his body allowed. He still won two rankings among the top 20 world championships.
To be honest, he’s lucky to be alive. And the fact that he was able to achieve such remarkable results is sadly overlooked and underestimated. Elite cross-country ski racers need to be extremely careful with a cold or the flu, but tackling one of the most serious respiratory illnesses in a century should be covered by “sickness or injury during the winter.” selection period â.
Due to Covid, David missed his World Cup starts in the fall. He lost valuable points and arguably the most important part of the season for hard training and getting in shape for the race. He lost chances of making a top 30 potential and FIS points, thus wiping out any opportunity to objectively qualify for the US ski team. This is exactly what the discretionary clause was designed to do: give an opportunity to athletes who have been affected by factors beyond their control, but who still demonstrate talent, dynamism and results to be recognized by the American ski team.
So, we have the question again: why was he not selected for the US ski team?
Age comes into the equation as many have noticed. The American ski team is developing a young and incredibly talented team. While this will play a key role in improving our results as a nation in the years to come, we cannot lose sight of the talent and abilities of some of the older athletes today. David is not an athlete knocking on the doors of the top 30 World Cups. He is not the 4th or 5th American skier at the World Cups. Two other American cross-country skiers can do what he’s doing. Both skiers were nominated for the 2022 U.S. Ski Team (Gus and Scott).
Qualifying for the World Cups as a non-team member and racing as a member of the US ski team are radically different experiences. David has proven that he can compete with the best in the world and the best cross country skiers in the United States while being self-sufficient and coordinating his own waxing technicians. (As a non-member of the World Cup squad, the responsibility for funding a wax technology rests with David.)
As background players the wax technicians are chronically overlooked, but I think they are as important as the athlete to achieve strong World Cup results. Having a consistent wax technician who knows the athlete, the ski fleet, European racing conditions, grinds, flexes, cambers and wax is more important than the average spectator thinks. The connection and knowledge of a wax technician with the skis of his athletes can make or break races. I think as a country we are all curious and excited to see the day when David will be a fully supported US ski team athlete with a constant wax technician and without the burden of coordinating sponsors, funding. and its wax technology needs for the next World Cup races. . Last season, Norris employed four different wax technicians between late January and mid-March.
There is only one advantage to Norris’ potential. Imagine its potential if it were fully funded with access to the full arsenal of national team resources.
As a cross-country skier, I can attest to the challenge of going from winning the US SuperTour races to trying to make it into the top 30 in the World Cup. It is not an easy task. I feel like I came from a sort of âmiddle generationâ of American cross-country skiers between the legendary Noah Hoffman, Kris Freeman and Erik Bjornsen and new guns like GU.S. Schumacher, Luke Jager, Ben Odgen and Johnny Hagenbuch to name a few. I consider myself proud and lucky to have raced with such talented cross-country skiers as Kyle Bratrud, Adam Martin, Ian Torchia, Paddy Caldwell, Scott Patterson, David Norris, among many others, who were all on and off the World Cup circuit. I held the position of SuperTour leader for at least one period per year for four consecutive years from 2016 to 2020.
I have had many opportunities to prove myself worthy of the American ski team. I have raced 32 World Cups and two World Championship starts. I was one of many American cross-country skiers who dreamed of being in the top 30, earning World Cup points, and being part of the American ski team. It was incredibly difficult for all of us to take this break. I can’t stress enough how hard it is for American men to win an American National Championship or SuperTour to a top 30 individual World Cup result. Only two members of our generation have consistently made this top 30 breakthrough: Scott Patterson and David Norris. Scott was selected for the US ski team. David deserves it too. I know they are both from Europe and represent the United States because they are the best we have.
I don’t think the United States has the luxury of not naming David Norris in the American ski team. We are a small, tight-knit community in a country that neither appreciates nor approves of cross-country skiing as a national sport. Supporting our best skiers, especially in the men’s team, is imperative not only to achieve the best results at the 2022 Winter Olympics, but also to develop and build a strong team for the future.
Helping keep David in the game is benefiting a generation of young skiers. They learn that when you are one of the top three cross country skiers in the country, one of the top 20 skiers at the World Championships, the national team is there for you.
The current storyline is a bit of deja vu for Norris. Last season, he missed the team’s objective criteria by 0.88 points. He has not been discredited with the team for 2021.
If you would like to learn more about David Norris and his situation, please see this link to a petition: https://www.change.org/p/US-ski-and-snowboard-nominate-david-norris-to-US-ski-team-2021-2022
Appendix I: Best results from David Norris since 2010.
I limited these results to 1st place at US SuperTours, top 5 results at US Nationals, and top 30 at World Cup or World Championships.
(Results taken from https://www.fis-ski.com/)
* Results after recovery from Covid-19.