What happened to Chris Beckmann?
Not too long ago, the former Guilderland High School football player was one of the hottest young American downhill skiers on a roster of hot young downhill skiers competing for spots on the U.S. Ski Team. In 2006, at age 19, he won the World Junior Downhill Championship.
He attended the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid during winters so he could train in the New York Ski Education Foundation program at Whiteface, alongside other prospects like hometowner Andrew Weibrecht, who would go on to win a bronze medal in the Super G event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia.
By those games, however, Beckmann was no longer near the top of the US talent mix. He was a part of the development team through 2009. Then, a series of injuries had him more on the sidelines than on the hill and, after a short period of trying to compete independent of US Ski Team support, he retired as a racer.
Now he’s back with the U.S. Team, this time not as a racer but as a coach for the US team working with the speed event athletes on strength training. The announcement of his new position was made last week.
Chris is delighted. “As an athlete, I’ve been in the position of the guys I’ll be working with. I bring that experience with me.”
Based now in Park City, the home of the US Ski team, he is working with the athletes in the gym, and will be going with the team for on-snow training in Chile in August and September. Then it is back north to get ready for the World Cup season that starts at Lake Louise in Canada in early November, and, of course, preparation for the Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Gym work has always been an important part of downhill ski training. Think for a moment of the strength needed to hold up through tucks and turns for two minutes at top speed in a downhill course.
But he also knows there is more to preparation than just physical training. “Having competed at this level, I understand other demands on the athletes like the effect of travel and sleep habits, and diet. I know how difficult it can be to maintain the required energy level.
“What is also important as a coach, you are there with a bunch of guys on the road. You have to be able to connect.
After he retired from racing, Beckmann spent a couple of years working in the Bahamas and the Caribbean then was back in snow country last winter in Colorado. His new job came at least partially through a chance meeting with US Ski Team Head Coach Sasha Rearick at the Olympic Center of Excellence In Park City while visiting friends there in March.
Now the ex-Guildeland High linebacker is back in the ski team mix, this time not in the starting gate himself, but this time helping prepare for racing success.
And he hasn’t left all his speed on skis behind. Recently he finished a close second in the Arctic Man Ski Classic in Alaska that combines downhill skills with snowmobile uphills. This is not soon to be an Olympic sport but it does help confirm the Beckmann still has ski creds, an important element when working with some of the best racers in the world.