Justin Wadsworth: Olympic Skier Turned Head Coach
Justin Wadsworth represented the USA in three Winter Olympic Games. Despite retiring from competing and moving to Canmore, Wadsworth continues to be involved in the sport of cross-country skiing — now as Head Coach of the Canadian team. Wadsworth shares his favourite Olympic moment and how he is preparing his athletes to compete in Russia.
Wadsworth's Olympic Resumé
Wadsworth grew up in Seattle, and experienced three Olympic Games as a member of the U.S. Cross-Country team: Lillehammer in 1994, Nagano in 1998 and Salt Lake City in 2002, where he achieved his best result: a fifth-place finish in the 4x10-kilometre relay event. He attended the 2006 Games in Turin, and the 2010 Games in Whistler-Vancouver as a coach with the U.S. Cross-Country team. Following the 2010 Games, Wadsworth relocated to Canmore and took on his current coaching position. The Sochi Games will be his third as a coach and his sixth Olympics, overall.
How Justin Wadsworth is Preparing for Sochi
“I work closely with our sports psychologist on ways to negotiate the things I’ll be faced with at the Games — pressure and media and dealing with potential situations that could really affect the team. I’m trying to make sure I have strategies to balance my life so I don’t get overwhelmed. You need to make sure you’re staying relaxed and focused on the job. My main job in Sochi is to take care of the athletes and make sure they get to the starting line with everything they need and a clear head to race as well as they can.
“A lot of people say the Olympics are just a race and you’ve got to treat it like any other race. But you can’t do that. It’s not like any other race, and, if you coach like that and try to tell your athletes it’s like any other race, I think you miss something and you do your athletes a disservice. I really try to get into my head back when I was at the Olympics as an athlete. I try to make sure the athletes are enjoying the Olympics because, really, I think every person competes a lot better when they’re happy and having fun.
“It’s very rare to get handed the kind of athletes we have right now — that kind of talent. I feel really fortunate to be part of this team and have the privilege to lead this group going into Sochi, where, if we don’t get at least a couple of medals, we’re going to be really disappointed. It’s a fun team and I’m very excited and looking forward to it.”
Olympic Love Connection
Wadsworth is married to three-time Olympian and gold medal-winner Beckie Scott. A member of the International Olympic Committee, Scott will also be in Sochi as part of the CBC broadcast team for cross-country skiing events.
Justin Wadsworth's All-time Favourite Olympic Moment
“Everyone said going into it that, if you’re a cross-country skier, the [Lillehammer] Olympics is the one that will go down in history. It didn’t disappoint. It was my first Olympics as an athlete, so just going is pretty big, but this was mind-blowing. There were 100,000 people at some of the cross-country races in Lillehammer. Even when we were just out training on days when there were no competitions, there was still an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people out there camping. They would yell and throw things like hot dogs and stuff. It was just crazy. The whole Lillehammer Olympics was really well done. The town was small, everything was well-organized and everywhere we went it was all about cross-country. It was the event.”